Friday, January 13, 2012

The Future is Now

When our manager announced last summer that we were being converted to a "Store of the Future", I wondered what we'd been up to this point -- Store of Last Year? Y2K Store? Store of the Cold War? I -- of course -- also immediately envisioned us with shiny-new jet packs and unisex jumpsuits. We got:

1. A streamlined merchandise return process (old way: read down a receipt and manually find/enter/cross off individual items; new way: scan barcode on receipt, scan items, and done). Thumbs up.

2. A reconfigured checkout area with one queue leading to the next available cashier. (No more playing Guess The Quickest Line and watching people jump lines when another cash register opens up.) BIG thumbs up.

3. Elimination of my job function. Thumbs down. But... my post-demotion job is actually more fun than the old one.

4. Two-way radios with an earpiece and microphone. At first, they were universally despised. We felt like a pathetic band of Secret Service agent wannabes. Then we discovered that radioing each other for business purposes ("This customer thinks her paintbrush is on sale. Is there a sign back there?") saved mileage on our feet. Most importantly, we could kvetch and vent to each other over the airwaves ("The paintbrush is not on sale. If she saw a sign, she's hallucinating. And who's in here what that screaming kid?")

Radio Free Us crackles with life now.

"Did you tell some woman that she could have a 99 percent discount on this spray paint because the label has a smudge?"
"No. I told her to grab one of the five other un-smudged cans."
"I just found an abandoned basketful of beads. I hate putting away beads."
"Do think anyone would notice if we closed early tonight?"
"Did someone tell a customer that *everything* in the store is 40 percent off?"
"Yeah. Isn't that what we tell everyone?"
"Is it that guy with the red shirt? Is he *still* here? He needs to go home."
"Where are the sketch pads? What the hell happened to all the stuff in Aisle 33? Where is it?"

Sadly, there were no jet packs. They probably would've lit the place on fire anyway. And no jumpsuits. Thank our lucky stars for that one -- not pretty.

I still have my fingers crossed for a teleporter, though.

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