There’s a relatively new cashier who transferred to our store from another Generimart location, where she worked for an undisclosed number of years. It’s too soon in the game to really make an opinion, although I will be the first to admit that I’m not easiest person to get along with. However, when there is a new employee it is never my intention to make someone feel uncomfortable and so I will try to be patient if not always pleasant.
A couple of nights ago, the front end supervisor called in sick and there was no one to replace her on such short notice. So because of her experience, they asked this new cashier to watch the front end for the evening. Her name is going to be Patty, after a character in one of my favorite Anne Rice novels, Blackwood Farm.
It was late in the evening and it had been busy nonstop. As the acting front end supervisor, it’s Patty’s responsibility to coordinate the cashiers breaks as well as keeping everything in order. Of course if something comes up she has the option to call someone from the sales floor to either jump on register, or help out in some other capacity. Towards the end of the evening, I got this call over the walky, while I was in the parking lot.
Patty: Cart Jockey please, cart jockey.
Me: *Replying* Go for Cart Jockey.
Patty: There’s a huge mess over by the cafeteria that we need to clean up, can you come in to take care of that please?
This was a half hour before the closing and there were still customers coming into the store. Two years have taught me that the varying levels of management in our store can have a warped sense of priorities. But because Patty was relatively new and this was her first time running the front end, I simply replied,
Me: I still have a full parking lot to take care of. We do have an overnight crew that cleans up the store, so is the mess really important at the moment?
Patty: No, it really isn’t, that’s okay. Someone just spilled kitty litter.
I said no problem and went back to loading carts onto the pusher, then paused. Kitty litter?
With the pusher half full of carts, I turned it around and went back into the store. Then I found Patty, who was talking with the manager for the overnight shift and asked,
“Okay, when you said ‘kitty litter’, did you mean there’s a little bit of litter on the carpet, or someone spilled a whole bag?”
Patty answered, “Someone spilled a whole bag.”
“Okay,” I said, understanding finally. “See, when you said mess, I thought maybe the carpet looked a little nasty and you just wanted me to sweep or vacuum. If you had said there was a spill, I would have treated that with a lot more urgency cause it’s a whole other matter.”
“So if you need me to clean that up, that’s fine, but it’s going to take time away from my getting the parking lot in order.”
We went to check it out, but the night manager told me I could go back into the parking lot and that he would pull someone from the floor to take care of it if it was that big of a deal. This was just a simple lesson in context and hopefully Patty recognized that I wasn’t trying to be some jerk who only wanted to get out of doing what he was told. There is a sense of prioritizing when it comes to my job and I don’t just hang out and text between bringing in rows of carts. It’s hard enough to get that fact across to people who have been in the business for years, so I hope Patty learns from this experience.