good job, you!
This week, the managers at the store created a clever little bulletin board encouraging employees to pluck a paper crown from a nearby stack and share on it a way one of our fellow booksellers have "gone above and beyond the call of duty."
Every once in awhile, management does this kind of thing to pump us up. In the nearly four years I've worked at the store, I believe this has happened three times. I guess they figure we all appear to be such happy clams the majority of the time, we're going around patting the backs of our fellow comrades constantly. But when we slip and tiny dark cumulus clouds seem to hover over our heads, we need bulletin boards so everyone who wanders to the break room to eat their discounted cafe items and bitch about an especially taxing day (What? You don't think that can happen at such a happy place as a bookstore?) can see how much we love and appreciate each other.
In theory, I dig this sort of thing because I like to see my name in lights. And bulletin boards that won't be changed for months. Especially when the bulletin board is decorated with images and positive sayings from The Backyardigans. Really, managers? Perhaps tomorrow we'll learn our ABC's after a tasty, peanut-free snack, for this feels like preschool.
However, I'm not adverse to a refresher course on the alphabet, because there's a few of my fellow booksellers who seem to have a hard time with the whole system. I wouldn't say that outloud, though. And I certainly wouldn't put it on a paper crown I would then pin to the Backyardigan bulletin board, for shelving eight copies of a book by someone with the last name of Mitchell between those written by the likes of Burnes and Carpenter isn't really going above and beyond the call of duty so much as it is being annoying.
Apparently volunteering to take a shift in cafe is, though. A coworker and I were in the break room last night when we saw the board, deemed the few crowns that were already posted a bit lacking in the exceptional vein, and decided that going above and beyond the call of duty meant really busting our asses (as I do every shift, I'll have you know! For you. I do it for you!) in the area of customer service.
"The other day, armed with just a plastic spoon from the cafe and a book on human anatomy plucked from the science section, I performed a complicated surgical procedure on a customer who had collapsed in the bargain section. I think that qualifies as above and beyond," I told my fellow bookseller.
"That's good, but this is better. Last week, I established a small triage area by newstand when a group of giggling teenagers, flipping through the sex books, became entangled and started hyperventilating while trying to bend themselves into the various poses of the Kama Sutra," he replied.
"Nice one. Let me get you a crown!" I said.
Wanting to make sure I was properly recognized as many times as possible, I informed my coworker of the many times I held my tongue (which is gross, so don't do it in public, but if you do, don't touch me afterward because blech!) when a customer approached me at customer service and asked for one of the following: A book; a red book; a red book they saw while visiting the Kansas City store: and/or Oprah's newest book.
(If you think we don't react to questions like that when customers walk away - after we've helped them, of course! - then you must have never worked retail, to which I say "LUCKY BASTARD!!")
A few crowns completed, my fellow bookseller (I'm contractually obligated to refer to my coworkers as such) paused in mid-sentence on a crown about how great my hair always seems to look when I come work a shift, and how he appreciates the effort I must put into smelling good (um...effort?!), when he put his red Sharpie down, looked at me, and said he believed what he was about to tell me should earn him the biggest crown on our Backyardigan bulletin board. Intrigued, I leaned in closer so he could tell me.
"Last week, I cleaned evidence of the most explosive bowel movement ever in human history from the toilet, floor, and walls of the men's restroom," he declared, shuddering a bit as he relayed how he had to mop the walls and endure the pity filled eyes of those who wandered in to the massacre.
Rendered nearly speechless, for nothing strikes more fear in a bookseller than seeing they've been assigned the nightly bathroom checks, I could only squeak out a feeble "Dude...you win," and started to draw actual jewels upon his paper crown for emphasis.
Anything, even bringing someone back from the dead WHILE ordering an especially hard to find book, is trumped by cleaning up bodily fluids, especially of the explosive kind, when it comes to going above and beyond the call of duty.
Make that going above and beyond the call of DOODY!
Yep. This is why I'm working a retail gig...