Thursday, September 16, 2010

Clashing Cultures

Forty minutes past midnight and I just clocked out. Opened the doors today for the first staff member at 9:21. Went to bed last night at about 3am. I was up with one of the owners, talking business, trying on masks. The first hour this morning was not pleasant. I was hung-over, as well as sleep deprived. A mountain of boxes full of merch behind the desk. I had to get out of the building for breakfast, coffee and personal hygiene supplies. When I returned the UPS man had already brought ten of twelve boxes through the door. A Grand Opening to plan, latex to order for the zombie pub crawl, time sheets to be fulfilled; masks scattered all over the back desk, an artist about to deliver a bronze sculpture for the shrine to the Goddess; 202.86 hours logged in the last two week time-period. I made a list to settle my restless mind, relaxed, set about the list, and executed all without much trouble. But for the system.

The system is the program we use to track merchandise, and who is selling it. I am no programmer. If I were, and I set about creating a Point of Sale (POS) system to be as inefficient as possible, I could not match the system we use. It is designed by the Canadians we contract with for the right to be part of the Monster Halloween franchise.

I was at Northern Brewers this past weekend buying supplies for wine making. I had three items. The teller scanned them, took my cash, and gave me the change in about 18 seconds. I felt a surge of jealousy. Depending on circumstances, the process at our store can take up to three minutes or more.

This must be acceptable to Canadians, as we have been informed that no one on staff in all of Canada, where all the other Monster Halloween stores are located, has ever complained. This, of course, is why Canada is no Empire. That Canadian staff are not driven mad by this POS system, as we are, is either a sign that Canadians are exceptionally passive generally, or they simply don't mind taking ten steps when only one is required. Scan the item; set the scanner down; grasp the mouse; move the cursor to the search button; click; select from options; move the cursor to the empty box next to the proper item; click; type 1; grasp the mouse; move the cursor to the Add-to-Cart box; click; move the cursor to the cart and reduce the quantity from two to one because the system already entered it into the cart, which it doesn't always do, and adding to the Cart made two items when there is only one. Pick up another item, but not before you click on the item box, so the cursor is in the proper place - but not yet, if there is a percentage reduction in the cost of the first Cart item, which involves another six or eight or twelve steps to resolve, depending on whether or not I screw up the process somehow because I'm so pissed off.

Absolute madness. Every single step increases the potential for user error exponentially, because the customers awareness that this process is taking an unusually long time is contributing to the self consciousness of the staff member at the till. I am imagining the day when the line at every register is ten people deep. I think I'll mix lavender oil in with the fog machine juice, to keep the hostility from boiling up and overflowing.

As manager of this establishment, I'll have to explain to the CEO that if he intends on expanding in America, this POS system alone will prevent it. He is not inclined to hear such critique, I am told. But I have a responsibility to my staff to tell him the truth. That call will take place tomorrow. In fact, I'm going to call him until he answers. This system is going to cost us money, as well as contribute to staff dissatisfaction. We could buy a better POS system off the shelf.

Brant Kingman delivered a sculpture of a winged goddess. He will install it tomorrow. I tried to book Dessa for our Grand Opening, but her booking agents won't respond to my business emails. I'm looking for someone less, um, famous, preferably a band with a drum kit and horns. Fire dancers and drummers, an inflatable bouncy thing for the kids, a percentage of proceeds to a cause, maybe an autism foundation. I found some impressive latex horns today. Maybe I'll get one of the staff to apply them, paint myself green and dance with my deer horns. I'd love to find a giant steel cauldron to build a fire in without melting the asphalt.

As for personal hygiene, my clothes need washing. So do I. Bought some patchouli soap today. Some very expensive under arm deodorant. Only one of the owners has complained, but then, I am manager, and I wouldn't expect any of the minions to point out, to me, that I stink. More so, now that I'm consuming less than healthily. That may not make it any more difficult to find a date for this weekend, but it may make it less enjoyable for her if I do.

1 comment:

Chad said...

can tune up the threads this weekend if you like; i think you have the POS acronym incorrect from the sounds of it. Just took a course on human computer interaction ... these folks need to read a book on ethnography or come watch you work with 10 people in line. NO one is that patient. Not even the Canadians.