Monday, March 19, 2007

Lights Out!

Ever been in a store when the lights went out?

Even better, ever been working in a store when the lights went out? Happens not quite irregularly, just often enough that anyone who's done the retail thing for a while will generally have experienced it. Basically, I went to lunch at around 12:45 today, and when I got back thirty minutes later there was no power. Apparently it was the entire shopping center that had lost power, but since I spend all my lunch breaks in my car anyway, I simply didn't notice.

In general, there are two basic philosophies that companies take towards what to do when the power goes out: 1.) Having customers in the with low visibility is a liability, and if anyone gets hurt it's tons of lost money for the company or 2.) Telling customers to get out means losing all revenue during the power outage, and losing revenue is a Bad Thing.

The office supply store where I used to work took the former attitude towards power outages: get the customers out, nicely, politely, apologetically, but get them out. And don't let any new ones in. I once sat in an office chair for nearly two hours during a power outage, because we're still required to hang out there for our shifts, even if you can't get any work done due to a lack of lighting.

The bookstore where I work now took tack number two. Although partly it may be because there was a DM in the store (gotta do a DM visit post soon!), it's likely that this company are just greedy bastards.

Now, when the power goes out the register doesn't work. So someone has to stand at the register with a paper pad for making hand receipts and writing down all transactions, making change the old-fashioned way. Fortunately, this wasn't me -- in fact, the manager on duty ended up having to do the register for that period.

The highlight of the brief blackout period? A customer wanted to browse the home and garden magazines all the way in the back of the store, far, far away from the sunlight streaming through the front doors, and out of the way of the emergency lights. So I got to stand there with a crappy plastic flashlight while the customer glanced through a gardening magazine. Y'know, since I didn't have anything important to do to prepare for the DM's audit of the store coming up the next day...

People, just leave the damned store when the power goes out. It's not like you'll never have the chance to browse those magazines again.

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