Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Here We Go Again

"I yam what I yam and its time to scram" - Popeye The Sailor Man

One rule of life I tried to imprint in my youngsters mind was to take advantage of each and every opportunity that comes along. When no opportunity presents itself then make your own. Time for me to follow my own advice again.

Having a hobby job turning into a second career has kept me occupied, insured along with being educational and fun all at the same time. Working at the World's Foremost Outfitter has been one heck of a resume enhancement. It led me to a sweet full time hourly job (30 hours per week) with good healthcare benefits managing a small outdoor department at a small regional sporting goods chain just 19 miles from home instead of the 34 saving me fuel costs, wear and tear on the vehicle and more free time.

A few months ago I became aware that a major sporting goods retail chain that shall remain nameless was opening a free standing unit much closer to the old country bunker. 16.5 miles closer. After checking out one of their existing locations I noticed they also had an outdoor department but with a higher quality of merchandise in a contemporary, upbeat environment compared to my current employer. It was no brainer time.
As with all companies these days I completed the online application. What surprised me was after the form was finished the final button prompted me to another menu to select a time for an appointment, not the usual "Thanks, we'll contact you" bull. The site application must have had keywords built in for it to offer me a range of interview times. The time selected was the first opening available. Why not?

A conference room at a local motel was the interview location. The job I was applying for was outdoor department manager. Showing up in clean business casual attire I met first with the new store hard lines manager. She asked the usual questions but first wanted to know all about my Worlds Foremost Outfitter experience. Then it was on to "Tell me about a time you encountered a difficult customer and what you did to change their attitude" HR style Q&A crap. After a somewhat lengthy Q&A she asked me to sit in the lobby and wait until called back.

During my time in the lobby other applicants for the other open positions entered and exited. Only one other was asked to stay for the following step in the process. When invited back in they led me to a laptop where I was asked to answer more questions. This was one of those obligatory psychographic tests. Only a socially depraved, low information type, chronic hemp user or personal device addict could fail this simple test. I was asked to wait in the lobby again where I was the only one waiting. My conclusion was the only ones being asked to stay had passed the last interview stage and were kept for the next step. My final stage was coming. They had informed me in the online appointment menu that they would only need an hour of my time and at this point I had been there for two.

I next met with the new store manager. She looked to be about thirty five years old and very friendly. Her main interest was my past duties which involved ATF compliance such as logging in and out all firearms, performing hundreds of background checks, keeping the sequence log, mounting and laser bore sighting scopes, inventory audits and replenishment along with advising customers on product needs. It was at this point I felt the job was mine but being one to never count chickens I tempered my enthusiasm because I already had good work with benefits.

After twelve days the call came. They offered the job at an hourly rate more than I had asked for. One other full timer and six part timers will be working with me. But knowing what's good for me I would not accept anything until we had a chance to look over the benefit package. It amounted to better coverage, a copay, and at 40% less of my salary contribution than my current plan. Now here's what really tipped it in.

At 2.5 miles away the commute savings will be substantial. I did the math. While it may not sound like much I will be saving:

- 9,888 miles wear and tear on my vehicle per year
- 260 hours of commuting time per year
- @ an average of $3 per gallon of fuel the savings will be $2,200 per year - money in my pocket not my tank

Another opportunity.

After handing in the courtesy two week notice my current store manager asked me why I was dropping this bomb on him. Honestly, it is a matter of geography. He understood. It felt bad to leave him in a bind because he's a good guy and we have a mutual respect. He gave me a similar opportunity nearly two years ago. But as in most small retail environments it's not easy finding honest, dedicated employees who give a crap and currently he has faced five other resignations within the past month alone, one being an assistant store manager. Them's the breaks.

My new employer has a much better grip on contemporary merchandising and ambience than my old employer did. Where I was could be compared cosmetically to a discount outlet. Not that it matters much to me. And they were so operationally cheap. How cheap were they? The only computer terminal was in the managers office. It was very old and it ran ancient software. Hand scanners were non existent. The tools handed to me for mounting scopes made it difficult to execute the task properly. I probably had to walk five times more than necessary to get the job done and my 62 year old feet told me about it every night. Not only was that company cheap they had a severe lack of trust in their employees, probably due to past experiences with low wage workers accustomed to labor union habits and theft. I often heard the old union blues such as "they don't pay me enough to…" and "that's not my job".

Objects that not only help enhance the customer experience they also makes floor associates more efficient allowing more time to serve customers. The new store will have television monitors showing sporting events and how-to demos are strategically placed along with non fluorescent lighting, contemporary floor treatments and fixtures.

I will now have access to a fully outfitted tech center where I can tie on D-Loops, peep sights, mount fixed sights, change poundage and draw lengths on modern compound bows.There will be an archery range for customers to test the products too. There will be everything to make minor repairs and mount scopes to rifles. Necessary outdoor department tools lost on the cheapskates at the old company but not at the World's Foremost Outfitter.

All in all my last job was satisfying and kept us in good healthcare. It was easy and not too demanding. This one has better benefits for less, should be even more satisfying and best of all much more convenient.


Carl from Chicago said...

Ha ha getting old is a bad category for this post. Definitely 25 stories about work...

People should not underestimate the benefits of avoiding a long commute. It will save you dollars, time and frustration.

Hope you are happy there!

Jonathan said...

Congrats and good fortune.

Dan from Madison said...

Awesome. That 260 hours saved is huge.