Over the summer, I did some investigating and found a magical place. It is a lot like how you’d imagine Narnia, if the lion, the witch and the wardrobe ganged up on you to make fun of your hair.
A certain video rental company, which I’ll call Blockbuster, did me the disservice of employing me over the summer.
The main problem that I had with my management can probably be labeled as a “communication issue,” in that we had different definitions for certain basic words.
I thought “thirty-five to forty hours a week” meant something entirely different than they did. They defined it to mean “around seven.”
Some quick mental math will reveal that, in fact, that there is around a thirty-three hour difference in our definitions. I wouldn’t have minded, but they decided to use their definition to determine my wages.
Now, since they were only giving me seven hours a week, I assumed that they wouldn’t be able to interfere with my personal life. I no longer assume anything about that hideously evil corporation.
They managed to choose the seven hours each week in which everything else was going on. My summer went something like this:
“Want to go to a movie?”
“Can’t, I’m working”
“Want to go go-cart racing?”
“Can’t, I’m working”
“The messiah came, and he’s giving out free tickets to heaven but only for seven hours, want to go?”
Well, you get the idea.
And, why, even though every one of my co-workers called in to cancel shifts, did I not feel that it was an option? I was working foolishly towards the goal of Employee of the Month. Then I was given the power to plan my own schedule for two weeks.
Have you ever put the video you were looking at back out of place? I was the one that had to go back and clean up after you.
Have you ever asked the video store employee if he knows “a movie that came out a while ago with what’s her name and the famous guy”? Do you then, after he says forty or fifty different possible titles, remember, miraculously, that it was the first title he mentioned?
So, after I played nanny to a bunch of people who thought they were too good to talk to me, did I get handed Employee of the Month? If, by Employee of the Month, I mean a mop to clean the floor, then yes.
All of these indignities, though, paled in comparison to the lawsuit. Not a personal lawsuit, no this was a class-action lawsuit against the Blockbuster Corporation because of late fees.
Since we live in America, we get to sue corporations for hurting our feelings and expecting us to actually understand English and/or common sense. The lawsuit had nothing to do with the fees themselves, it was because we used the word ‘late.’
So, I was required to bastardize the English language, and, rather than say “your video was six days late,” I was required to say “you have extended viewing fees because the video was six days past due.”
Not that it mattered what I said, because, apparently, every single person to rent from Blockbuster knew that they had always turned in their videos on time.
Here’s a hint for all you irate video renters out there ? At Blockbuster, the employee is viewed as a necessary evil, and assumed to have the intelligence of a week old rutabaga. My computer gave me explicit instructions, and, being a mere employee, rather than a manager, I didn’t have the authority to change anything about it.
Yelling at me, as much fun as it is, will not get your late ? I mean, extended viewing ? fees to go away.
On the bright side, though, after being yelled at by customers, ordered around by any of six different managers and required to mangle the English language, I was granted the wonderful privilege of being yelled at for not working on a day when I wasn’t scheduled.
So, if you want lower self-esteem, boring work and irate customers, you should definitely try and get my old job at Blockbuster.
Powell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.