Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Boundin' and Ramblin'

Pretty much everything Pixar touches turns to box-office gold. Their shorts are, almost without exception...exceptional. This is my favourite of those I have seen.

Warning: I have no idea where I'm going with this post. Hopefully it comes out sort of coherent.

I'm feeling a bit down lately, and I'm not sure why. It isn't the weather. Although the constant rain has me considering building an ark, the truth is I'll gladly take gloomy overcast days over the kind where I'm dodging eyeball-spearing rays of light.

(Gression: There's a path that cuts into some dense woodland not far from my house. A couple of weeks back, I got out of work a little early and found myself possessed of a childlike urge to explore. Turns out that path, while not exactly a shortcut, only adds about five minutes to my commute time and--important, this--gets me the hell out of the sun for a while. And the wind. The path is not groomed in any way, just worn flat by who knows how many people. It's remarkably wide, as these things go, and easily navigable on a bicycle, and now it's the part of my homeward journey I look forward to most. I could ride in woods like that all day.)

It's not work, either. After eight and a half years, nothing Price Chopper can throw at me really fazes me overmuch. I think I've finally found the balance between caring about my job and living my job. Years ago, I would worry incessantly about stuff I couldn't control and even stuff I could control, and maybe controlled wrong, often to the point of losing sleep. I could repeat in my head all I wanted--

--"there are two kinds of things in life, those you can control and those you can't. Those you can control, you can control them, so why worry about them? And those you can't control, you can't control them, so why worry about them?"--

--all I wanted, and I would, sandwiched between all the worry-layers. If somebody told me not to stress out so much, I'd heatedly respond "what, am I not supposed to care any more?"

(I'm Ken, avoider of happy mediums. Pleased to make your acquaintance.)

Now, I can do most of my job on autopilot, and rare is the problem I haven't seen and dealt with a dozen times before.

(Digression, a long, boring one: well, this week I almost had one of those. After a month of pitiful flyers that have done absolutely nothing to spur the business, the current ad was more than welcome. Most of the traditional Thanksgiving items make their customary appearance--Pillsbury Crescents, Green Giant bagged vegetables, and Philadelphia 3-pack cream cheese in my department, for example--although some of the prices aren't quite as attractive as they have been in years past.
But the 'Big Chop' this week is Armstrong 500g cheese bars at $3.77.
We booked this two weeks ago, considerably later than usual. Hot items like this tend to be booked five or six weeks ahead. We've never carried this brand of cheese fact, I'd barely heard of it. But based on price alone (regular retail at Wal*Mart: $8.29), I knew I would sell thousands and thousands of bars this week. I booked 1250 cases, between five flavours: 15000 bars. "Select two delivery dates", they said. I blanched a little. Just two? Where in the hell am I going to put this stuff? Still, where the hell am I going to put all this stuff is not just a common question in our store, but practically the only question we ever ask. The answer's always the same: wherever you can. So, fine, wherever, whatever.
Then we find out, a scant week before the ad breaks, that the supplier can't meet our needs. The 15000 bars I booked magically turned into 9000.
Still not a complete write-off of a situation: now I'll run out, but at least I'll get through the all-important weekend of ad break, when we tend to do up to seventy percent of our business.
Then we're told the ad runs for two weeks, right through Thanksgiving. We haven't had a two-week ad in at least three years. There's no way in bloody hell nine thousand bars is going to last me that long. Especially since they've only sent me 1200 bars of marble, which is usually the best-seller.
I put a few sternly-worded emails and phone calls together and actually got an apology out of somebody at Head Office, which is unprecedented in my experience...fat lot of good it did me. I was also assured that 'because of market conditions'--i.e., everybody and his pet poodle has had cheese on sale lately--the situation wasn't quite as dire as I was making it out to be.
Ha, I thought to myself. Typical head office thinking. Unlike nearly every other store in our chain, we have no direct competition within several miles of our door. The ad activity in other discount banners doesn't usually affect us at all. So while other stores might have a problem selling this cheese, I wasn't going to, not unless all the seals were blown or something.

The cheese arrived early, in complete ignorance of the "two delivery dates" I was asked to supply. That's normal, too. What, did you think Head Office would go to the trouble of asking questions so they could listen to the answers?

...Practically all the seals were blown. Not totally blown, but not as tight as you'd like them to be. At that point I just threw up my hands and told the Universe I give up.
The marble was gone on Sunday; everything else is holding up well, and oddly enough we've had very few complaints about the packaging. Maybe because our customers have never seen this brand before and they think it's supposed to be that way, I don't know. Wonder of wonders, Head Office managed to source out more cheese and so I'm getting another 150 cases tomorrow...which should, contrary to my every expectation, be just enough to see me through.

I would like to curse the name of whoever it was that decided we needed to have a grocery inventory in the Thanksgiving lead-up week. After nearly twenty of these things, you'd think I could count my cooler and freezer in two or three hours instead of eight. But no, it doesn't seem to matter how much or how little stock I have on hand, for some reason it takes roughly eight hours to count and mark each box. And so Monday was a monster of a day, twelve and a half hours without anything longer than a piss-break.

Tuesday made up for it. I found out almost as soon as I got to work that our store had placed third in the chain in a milk sales contest: we had grown our premium milk sales by 390% over the contest period. Our prize is a pair of tickets to see the Leafs vs. the Capitals from an executive box at the Air Canada Center. Dinner included. With (gulp) the president of Price Chopper. So that's something to look forward to. Hopefully by then the Leafs will be playing something that more closely resembles hockey.)

So no, it's not work, either. Ever been just kind of blah and not know why...and the not knowing actually pisses you off more? At times like this I just say to myself pink? pink? what's wrong with pink? seems you've got a pink kink in your think! and somehow that manages to cheer me up a little every time.

(Trigression: pink. Have you noticed lately just how many items are hawking breast cancer? I've got a LOAF OF BREAD in my freezer with pink wrapping. Now, don't get me wrong, we donate every year to that particular cause, and the general idea is a sound one: buy stuff you were going to buy anyway, and the company will donate money. it me, or is it everywhere? Usual retail overkill: find something that works and then DO IT ALL THE TIME.)

I'm off to check the news. Maybe there's something I can, you know, blog about. 8-)


Anonymous said...

Ever been just kind of blah and not know why...and the not knowing actually pisses you off more?

Been there done that, got the "Have the Blahs" membership sticker.

Am there right now as a matter of fact.

I think its the lack of sunshine since, oh about June.

Rocketstar said...

The news may not be the place to go, not much to cheer is up lately.

Anonymous said...

Have fun at the ACC with Pelerine. Better you than us.