30th Dec2004

Williambrucewest.com Season 2

by Will

So, this morning I renewed my URL. Yes, folks: www.williambrucewest.com will be back for Season 2, starting in February.

Don’t worry. Until then, you’ll still get your daily dose of Big Willie Style goodness, but February’s gonna bring some surprises.

We’re working on a new format. I’m finally gonna do something with that “Database” section. There’ll be new cast members. New plot twists. And dare we say, new job?!!!

Tune in Feb ’05, ’cause www.williambrucewest.com is gonna be the place to be!

In the meantime, today was monumental in the Westverse. Ju-wan got fired and Bruce quit. My people are leaving! I swear, if Brandy quits, it’s all over. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: H&M store #71 is going to be an entirely different place come February. Will I stay around to witness the changes? Stay tuned…

P.S. Thanks to all of you who used some form of modern communication to wish me a Happy Birthday! I appreciate the kind words from those of you who contacted me!

13th Dec2004

A Whole Bunch Of H&M Shit You Don’t Care About & The Return of Natalie

by Will

“Hiya kids. Here is an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don’t buy drugs. Become a pop star, and they give you them for free.”

Seeing as how it’s the holiday season, from now until Christmas, I’m going to start each day’s post with a quote from one of my favorite Christmas movies. Try to guess this movie; I dare ya!

For you newcomers, my friend & archnemesis, Tarek Sultani AKA “The Singing Bush”, has decided to wage a cybernetic war against me. At first, I laughed at his feeble attempts. But, I’ve got to admit: the bastard’s funny! Plus, I read on his site that my own girlfriend has joined his ranks in pursuit of my downfall!! Pretty soon, this blog is going to turn into my daily account of how they “almost got me”!

By the way, Jenn’s not dead. OR James has found a way to post to Jenn’s site AS Jenn. Either way, I’m still suspicious…

Now, down to the nitty-gritty.

I hate my job. Yes, i’ve said this before, and I know some of you are thinking, “Wow, it’s been awhile since a good ‘I hate my job’ post was on this site!” Well, here it is. Yeah, training was a hoot, and I LOVED the Doubletree, but as many of you know, I HATE CHANGE. When I came back to my store, it was like someone had recast my entire show! People were missing, people were leaving. Didn’t really like the new people. It was one big fashion-retail clusterfuck!

The old faithful sales assts are hitting the road, while all of these new colorful characters are coming out of the woodwork. PLUS, we’ve got new managers. Now, sales assts are one thing, but managers are in charge. These are people I HAVE to listen to.

As for the new department managers, the great, underrated Elvis hit, “In the Ghetto” comes to mind. I mean, when the Hell did H&M become Job Corps? Every time I come to work, I expect metal detectors and a surprise visit from my parole officer! By the day, I’m losing more and more respect for H&M’s current hiring practices.

OK, I’m being a snob….but it’s deserved! My main problem is that these chicks are coming here, not even trying to learn how we do things. Instead, they wanna shake shit up, without having a strong foundation. “Frankie says ‘relax’.” They really need to be “watchers” before they become “doers”

Now, remember how i got a promotion? Well, apparently, so did some other guy. New to the company. Seems like they double-booked the position. So, we both have it, which seriously affected my raise because it limited our budget. Either way, I have a partner, and this ain’t “Lethal Weapon”! There’s no buddy-cop vibe here. In fact, they schedule us at different times so there’ll be no real confrontation. Which sucks because we do the same tasks in completely different ways. We’re gonna spend most of our shifts cleaning up after each other . I knew about this guy when he finished training. I was told, “Oh, he’s just gonna fill in until you finish your training.,” I knew it was too good to be true. Smelled fishier than a Taiwanese whore (wow…). So, I get back to my store, and they’re like , “Yeah…Kevin’s coming back next week.” This puzzled me until I just kinda forgot about it. Then, this morning happened.

Yolanda came in and said, “We have 2 ‘new’ people coming back today.”

“Who are they?”

“Oh, Kevin…the other admin. And Natalie.”

Yup, you read that correctly. That star of MANY a summer’s blog returned to work today. Does that bother me? No. I’m am doing OK, and I couldn’t explain that whole saga if you asked me to. You’ve gotta admit: it WAS good readin’. Other than that, that’s all I got. So, no, it’s no big deal. But it WAS the most awkward day that I’ve had in some time. Having to deal with Natalie and Kevin on the same day…I was having a SERIOUS “case of the Mondays”.

So, I also learned that on top of the new admin responsibilities, I’m STILL the Sr. Sales Asst in the Men’s Dept! How the fuck am I supposed to do all of this? I’ll BET Kevin’s making the same thing I am, and he’s not got all this shit to worry about. I LOVE the Mens Dept. i do. Honestly, I miss the days of simply running racks and dealing with JAP-bitch customers. Plus, did I mention that one of the hoodrats is my new Men’s manager? I haven’t had a Dept. Manager in 6 months!!!! That dept was MINE. No interference. it was a fucking Free Zone. Now, I have to answer to someone I don’t even respect?!! I’m sorry, as long as this chick says “Aks” instead of “Ask”, I can’t look at her with a straight face. “Let me aks you sump’n.” HAhaha…see what i mean? She even makes me e-laugh! This is gonna be a LONG winter. I don’t know how much longer I can take this. I’m worth more than this. Not even in a “spiritual” sense. Economically, I’m WORTH more than this!!! I’m not money hungry, but eventually you have to call a spade a spade. Very confused and lost… I leave you with the great Sam Cooke:

“It’s been a long
long time comin’
But I know
A change’s gone come
Oh, yes it will.”

24th Nov2004

H&M Shout-Outs

by Will

I’m a few days late with this, but Happy Birthday, Brandy! I know you’ll see this eventually. We’ve gotta have a Champions and/or D&B night soon 🙂

P.S. PLEASE don’t quit before I get back! The same goes for you, too, Bruce! And Juwan…and the rest of the whole damn store. PLEASE don’t quit, guys!!!

22nd Nov2004

Marion Barry and the Gay Bar

by Will

“Watch out, ’cause here I come. It’s been awhile, but I’m back in style!”

Today’s Episode: “Oh No He Didn’t (Oh, YES He Did)!”

A little backstory: I’ve got a couple of friends at H&M who’ve never received “the blog treatment” before. Anyway, Juwan and Bruce are fellow retailers-in-arms, and we tend to have a good time whenever we’re at work together.

So, last night was Bruce’s birthday & he was throwing himself a party at the Banana Cafe. Well, I didn’t really know what to expect, but NOTHING could’ve have prepared me for what the night would bring. NOTHING.

I swear, folks…you’ve read some wacky shit on this site before, but NONE of it holds a candle to this crazy night in SE Washington…

So, a friend and I decided to go together ’cause we didn’t really know where the place was. Let’s see…2 sheltered kids in S.E. DC. I guess we figured they couldn’t kill us both, right? Strength in numbers, and all that jazz…

The party started at 6, but we didn’t roll in until around 10. Bruce was way drunk, bless his heart! He was glad to see us, as he led us inside. Apparently, it was Karaoke Night @ the Banana. So, he leads us up the stairs, and what do we find? A room full of young, Black gay guys. They weren’t all gay, but you couldn’t swing a dead cat in the room without hitting one. Now, when I say this, I don’t mean it in a derogatory sense at all. I say it ’cause I have never seen a room so CHOCK FULL OF BLACK GAY GUYS!!!

I think what struck me, too, was that it wasn’t all stereotype. It wasn’t like the “Men on Film” guys from “In Living Color” (Wow, I’m seriously dating myself here). Instead, it was an array of NBA jerseys and denim jackets. They looked like they were in a G-Unit video or something.

Anyway, my friend and I kinda look at each other; the White Chick & The Straight Guy. We were basically a bad UPN sitcom waiting to happen. But, what the Hell? We’re there to have fun, right? So, we get to the bar and Juwan’s drunk, too. I mean, DRUNK. But it was cute. He was kinda stumbling around. Every so often, he’d yell “Aw, this is my JAM!” and start dancing.

So, we’re drinking our SoCo & Cokes, getting settled, taking it all in. As I look around the room, I kinda start to feel like the last rib at a Black cook-out. There were all these eyes on me, ranging from “What’s he doing here?” to “Where’ve you been all my life, playa?” Now, for you frequent readers, you know that I tend to find myself in these situations ever so often. But this was only the TIP of the iceberg. Let the craziness begin:

A few minutes after we get our drinks, Bruce comes over and whispers, “Y’all will NEVER guess who that is over there!”

I ask who he’s talking about, and he points to a table near the window. Brace yourselves, folks

 

“That’s Marion Fuckin’ Barry!!!”

I look over and, “Holy shit, that IS Marion Barry!”

Yes, the crack-smoking DC mayor-for-life was sitting right there, about 10 feet from me. For all you uninformed, he’s that guy that Chris Rock loves to make fun of. I swear, he’s been milking that routine for 10 yrs….

Anyway, at the table sat Marion Barry and the cheapest, Sandra Clark imitation hoochie I have ever seen in real-life. This is one of those chicks who was clearly an escort. Not a hooker, but an escort. What’s the difference, you ask? Well, a hooker is someone you just pay for sex, while an escort is someone you pay to be seen with you. She might have sex with ya later, but that’s gonna cost extra.

Also, allow me to say that the good mayor looks like SHIT. I mean, during his recent campaign, there was talk of how bad his health was, but I had no idea it was THIS bad. The poor thing looked WRECKED…

“I’m gonna go say ‘hi’,” I said, as I rushed over to the table. Not really knowing what to say to a world-renowned figure, I offer my hand and say, “Congratulations, sir.” Hell, I didn’t really know WHAT, specifically, I was congratulating him on. Was it his recent election win? Was it his ability to find a woman to come out with him tonight? Was it the mere fact that he’s still alive? Damned if I know. I just figured such a phrase would make him feel good about himself or some shit.

He gave me a limp handshake and kind of mumbled something. I figured it was a pearl of wisdom from a man who’d clearly enjoyed a colorful life and career. “I beg your pardon?” I responded. Once again, he mumbled something. I leaned closer and asked, “What?” The third time, I heard him: “Do I have to go up to the bar, or will they come to the table?” Yup, that’s what the old fool asked me. I kinda stammered: “Uh…they’ll come to the table…..Did you need anything?” Yup, I was gonna buy old Marion a drink, but he just kinda waved me away. Yes, the good mayor and I were about to become enemies…

So, I decided to sing something, while Bruce & Juwan chilled on one of the couches. The first song was “A Song For You”, sung by the Temptations, but better known as a Ray Charles song. Surprisingly, the crowd seemed to like it, or they were just blowing sunshine up my ass.

When I was done, all of us kinda hung out together, the whole time trying to figure out how the Hell we ended up in a gay bar with Marion Barry?!!! But wait kids, there’s more!

It turns out Marion’s skank wanted to sing, too. How to describe her… Well, she was wearing an all black catsuit, with a chain around her waist. She thought she was cute, and Marion seemed proud to have her on his arm. That chick had the audacity to try to sing a Mary J. Blige song, and I don’t think she hit a single note in the song. But she was just smiling and singing like she thought she could sing. Marion decided to get a closer seat, but as I’ve said, he’s a bit out of sorts these days. As he started to sit down, his chair was tipping over and almost spilled him onto the floor. If someone hadn’t caught it from behind, he’d have fallen and I KNOW he wouldn’t have been able to get up! So, he sat there, drinking his drink, watching his girl. A couple of the divas decided to help her out ’cause she just wasn’t doing that song justice. When she finished, Marion smiled and clapped.

The entire time, we’re drunk, off in the corner, asking, “Is that REALLY Marion Barry?!!!’ Juwan would scream out, “Why is he HEEERREE?!!!” Bruce came back over, and I asked if Barry was a regular there. His response: “I ain’t never seen his crack-smokin’ ass around here before!” Barry’s like 4 feet away, mind you. I cringe and say, “He’s right there! He can here you!!!!” Bruce replied, “I don’t care! He knows what he is!”

So, the night continues on, and the drinks keep flowing. I decide to sing another song, but what to sing? Well, I went for the “ringer approach” and chose a song I already knew: This I Promise You (Which, btw, can be downloaded from my music section *wink*). So, I chose my song and signed up on the list.

Turns out, “Catwoman” had signed up for ANOTHER Mary J. song before me. I swear! So, I sat back and watched her butcher yet ANOTHER song, but I also noticed Barry talking to the DJ off to the side. Something nefarious was going on. I think he was trying to arrange for her to sing another song. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna watch THAT happen! You see, I was next on the list, and I wanted to sing my damn song.

I kinda got belligerent at that point. Ask anyone on that couch. “What the fuck is he doing?” I asked. ” I will fight Marion Barry! I ain’t scared of no old Marion Barry!” Sure, I wasn’t screaming at the top of my lungs, but I was vocal. That’s what alcohol does. It’s pure science.

I wanted to sing my song and, I’m sorry, there’s a line! Luckily, he didn’t get in front of me. Bruce swears I wasn’t going to do anything, but I don’t know…considering how surreal the night seemed, I kinda thought it was all a dream by that point anyway!

So, I got up and sang This I Promise You. It probably wasn’t the best venue for such a song; did I mention Black, gay, and S.E. DC?

During the instrumental part of the song, I got a little creative. I said, “This goes out to Bruce, on his birthday. And I also wanna give a shout-out to Marion Barry.” People kinda laughed and/or looked shocked. “What? He’s right here. We all see him!” I said. Did I mention that Marion was like 2 ft away from me? No? Well, he was. Yeah, it was dick of me. But in a drunk, funny way…

I think I got a little too into the song, actually. In fact, I think I might’ve been as off-key as Barry’s girl. Why, you ask? Well, this dude came up from behind me and said, “You’re lucky you’re cute.” OUCH. Back-handed compliments. Thanks, boys…So, I finished that song, and I think only one person clapped.

But the night was about to jump the shark. Just when you thought it was safe, what happens next? Well, I’ll tell ya!

When I get back on the couch, who do i see heading up to the mic? I thought he was lobbying for his girl again, but it was something bigger than that. Something more unexpected. Something monumental. Yes, Marion Barry was gonna SING KARAOKE!!!

I’m about to lose my mind here!!! Am I really seeing this? Is he really who he claims to be?!!! It’s all a blur. And what song did he choose for himself? “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”, by Otis Redding. Yes, I was about about to watch the tides roll away as Barry butchered a soul classic. We’re falling out of our seats in disbelief! We’re scrounging for camera phones and anything else to immortalize this moment. I yell,”Do you know how much Wonkette would pay for these pictures?!!!”.

He was beyond bad. It’s not that he was tone-deaf..it’s just that he wasn’t listening to the background track. Then, his lady decided to join him for the WORST duet….I can’t even….I’m fuckin’ blown! And to cap it off, you know how the song ends with a whistling solo? He sang it! No, he didn’t whistle it; he SANG IT!!! Words can’t explain…

When he finished, the crowd erupted. I guess we were all in awe of what had just transpired and, as they say in the ‘hood, “Marion was getting his propers”…Some of the guys helped him off of his chair, and after a few more political handshakes, Marion and ‘ho left the building. It was like a mass UFO sighting, though. For the next hr, we were all asking each other, “Did you see that?!!” or “Did that really just happen?” or, my fave, “Fucking Marion Barry?!!” It was like, for that night, we were all brought closer due to our shared ordeal. God bless alcohol and fallen celebrities…

The party wound down, we closed out tabs, and laughed about that shit all the way back to MD. I hope this made some kind of sense in print, but you really had to be there. And I’m sure it’ll never happen again, so you missed out. But from this day forward, children around the world will sing songs of the time Crack-smoking Marion Barry Sang Karaoke in the Gay Bar. And if you ever hear them sing these songs, you just tell ’em my name and that I was there on that fateful day.

Marion Fuckin Barry…

28th Oct2004

H&M Training Not In Philly After All

by Will

“Westman: Disassembled” Update

Previously on Westman: Our hero had learned that, while he was on track to become the new store administrator, Will’s training destination would no longer be The City of Brotherly Love. Which is probably good, ’cause he didn’t need any more rumors and theories concerning him…and love…and brothers. So, where would Will be spending his days & nights in November? Would he still make his per diem, enabling him to get out of debt? Would Lindsay Lohan make a good live-action “Kim Possible”? Find out the answers to most of these questions now!

Cue theme song & opening credits (you know, I actually DID compose a theme song a few years back…crap, that was probably something I should’ve kept to myself. Crap, I think they can still hear us, Will. Must stop type-thinking…)

So, it turns out that I’ll be going back to Tysons Corner after all. But don’t fret. The proletariat has won, for I will be receiving my per diem and hotel stay. So, it’s like being on vacation at home. I mean, YES, it will be hard work. And I’m excited about learning new and important things. But it’s also some time away from my house, where I can sort of get back to how I lived in college.

Plus, as excited as I was about Philly, I just kinda wanted to see where the Real World kids hung out!

So, I’m gonna kick back and accept that “everything happens for a reason”. Ain’t it funny that we only subscribe to adages like these when things are going well? Anyway, I trust that this is for the best…

23rd Oct2004

H&M Promotion?

by Will

“Westman: Disassembled” – The Saga Continues

Previously on Westman: Our hero had endured the worst week ever, with no manager support and every asshole under the sun deciding they had a bone to pick with a certain H&M employee. Just as he was about to tell the Swedes where they could put their “high fashion and quality at low prices”, Will was made an offer he actually thought about refusing….

So, what did Caroline and Susan offer me? They said that they’d really appreciated the work I’d been doing, and they wondered if I’d be interested in becoming the store administrator.

For the uninitiated, the H&M store administrator is the person who is responsible for managing payroll and budget. He’s more of a manager in terms of his relationship to other sales associates, but not necessarily a manager in terms of customer service and BIG decisions. It’s kind of a weird netherrealm. An H&M Purgatory, if you will.

But, this position would have more responsibility, and of course, more money. So, they seemed really excited about it, and I felt kind of bad that I visibly didn’t share their joy. It’s just that it’d been SUCH a long week, and despite how great it sounded, some motherfucker had, not 10 mins prior, called me an asshole. NO ONE CALLS ME THAT. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t deserve it, but I still wanted to beat his ass.

You see, around this time, I’d come to realize that I was “that guy”. You know the one. Every store you like going to, there’s that ONE sales associate you hate. And you hate him because he thinks he’s big shit ’cause he knows he’s got something you want and gives you a hard time just because he knows he can. Sometimes, this person is referred to as the B.N.I.C. In any case, retail really shouldn’t be this hard. It shouldn’t harden a person nor blacken his soul. Back in the day, when people described me, they’d always say, “Oh, Will’s so nice…” People don’t really say that anymore. And I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. But I certainly notice that the pleasantries have dried up. All I get now is gay guys calling me “sexy”. So, I guess I AM a bitch now. What I world we live in these days, I tell ya!

So, I had come to realize that retail probably wasn’t the place for me. In fact, it ain’t healthy for me. While this whole sojourn into commerce had taught me a lot about myself, I was seriously reaching the end of my rope. In fact, I had really started stocking up on clothes for my “new job”. What job was it? Not a damn clue. Didn’t have one, but I was sure as Hell looking.

So, the ball started rolling on this whole store admin thing VERY quickly. And the quicker it rolled, the more unsure I felt. I mean, I had to stop and remember my initial goal: I never really wanted to work in fashion retail, but I DID want to climb H&M’s corporate ladder. Here it was, my opportunity staring me in the face, and I’m considering bolting. I’ve NEVER been a quitter (though, there are many instances in which that would’ve been a smarter move then staying), and I decided I was gonna stick this out. After, this was a dream deferred that was now coming true. See, Mom? Dreams DO come true! Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus!

As the days rolled on, they kept sweetening the pot. “Hey, Will! You’re gonna be training at Chestnut Street in PHILADELPHIA!!!” and “Hey, Will! You’re gonna be in a pretty sweet hotel for 4 weeks!” or “Hey, Will! Your per diem is gonna be more than your entire freakin’ check!” And, like a sad, gullible bastard, I ate it all up, every fuckin’ morsel. I mean, end of my rope here. I was ready to believe anything.

Let’s take a trip back: Last week marked the one-year anniversary of my return home. It was exactly one yr ago that i packed up and left Ithaca for good. And just let me say that this has been the HARDEST period of my life. I mean, the last 365 days have been pure shit. They say the yr after college is the hardest and that motherfucker wasn’t lying. Horrible. I’ve had more nervous breakdown scares than one person should. I’m too young for this shit. Anyway, I needed a change. I feared I was headed for some kind of relapse or something, and I needed a change of scenery. But this new position, it was my chance. I could stay with the company, work toward my goal of advancement, but also get a new scene on the company dime. I mean, this was everything I could ever want, topped with sprinkles and holograms ( for the record, i LOVE holograms! someone’s got a birthday coming up…). So, this offer of tempting fruit was the beginning of things looking up. I was finally moving up to the East side to get my piece of pie. But as we all know, “fish don’t fry in the kitchen and beans don’t burn on the grill” (not really sure where I was going with that, but bear with me; it’s part of the metaphor…)

When I get excited about something, REALLY excited, something beyond my control thwarts me. Well, let the thwarting begin.

They tell me this evening that, “Hey, there are too many people up at Chestnut Street, so you probably won’t be going up there. Instead, you might be going to Delaware or even maybe Tysons Corner.” You should’ve seen me. My face dropped like Castro off that flight of stairs (Damn, that was funny! Jennine, I wish I could’ve seen your face!). Lahdy-fuckin’ dah! Well, Golly! I’s gonna get to see bootiful picteresque Dely-where? And I REFUSE to go back to Tysons if I have to commute. I hardly read my archives, so I’m not sure if I ever blogged about it, but that was my training store, and for about 2 months, I commuted 2 hrs, EACH WAY every day. I am NOT going through that again. So, I don’t know where that leaves us.

So, here I am, blogging, filled with rage (I always find it funny when a person has to TELL you they’re filled with rage; usually, you can just tell. But since you can’t see me….I’m kinda ranting in parentheses….I think this is one of the signs of insanity….I’d better stop and get out of these parentheses now) Whew, that’s better. So, anyway, I’m here, filled with rage. I’m I’m not even sure where I’m gonna be in 3 weeks.

The worst part is how this is affecting the rest of my life. I mean, I’ve been trying to be a good little worker, and I feel that i’ve been happier and more productive since this whole carrot-dangling began. But now, I’m unpredictable again.

Also, Tarek’s gonna hate me. I’ve been pseudo-avoiding him because i promised I’d come visit him in Boston before the Election (we have a wager on it), and I know I’ve put it off til the very last minute, but I don’t see how I’m gonna make it with all this work stuff up in the air. I seriously don’t know when nor where I’m going, and that prevents me from making any excursions up to MA. I know he’s a big boy, and he’ll understand that it’s work-related, but I was raised to “never make a promise that you can’t keep!” And I truly intended to keep this promise. And I want to visit him, but….So, T, don’t hate me…

Also, I’ve gotta say that it’s not my store nor my managers fucking me over. It’s the damn Area Team. This faceless European triad (well, they’re not faceless, I’ve seen them. And only one of them’s actually European. And there’s actual 5 of them, but “triad” sounds cooler and I’ve only actually met three of them…But I digress.). They go around, with their tight sweaters and pants, looking like JC Penney catalog models, crushing dreams. Well, they’re not gonna crush my dreams! I ain’t no punk. I ain’t going out like that!

So, now you see why it took me so long to finish that story, and as you can see, it ain’t over til it’s over…Stay Tuned

26th Sep2004

More H&M Bullshit

by Will

This Episode: “Westman: Disassembled – The Final Cut”

Previously: Two managers went on vacation at the same time, leaving one manager, Susan, to have to stretch for a stint of about 10 days. With this clusterfuck of a scheduling job, the blameless are nowhere to be found, and I find myself somewhat deputized as a pseudo-Asst. Manager. As a result, I also begin to stretch, my days going from standard 8 hrs to 14 hrs. It wasn’t about the money. Eventually, you come to a point in life where you no longer have a price. You can’t be bought. I was there because it was the right thing to do, and I didn’t want to abandon Susan. She didn’t ask to be in that situation, and the least I could do was be there, if only for moral support. As the days roll by, the stress increases. Everything that could go bad, has, such as power outages, shoplift attempts, flaky employees, register shortages, and abandonment by the head honchos at corporate. We come to realize that help isn’t coming, so we brace ourselves for the rest of the wild ride. This is what happened on the final day of our stretch…

The store opened at 10, just like it did the day before, and like it will the day after. I was “running racks” along with my colleague, Jeff. Our job was to put the previous night’s clothes back in their respective depts. Why is it, around 10:15, a trio of young Black guys comes into the store, in sort of a V-formation? Yeah, I’m profiling, but it’s done for a reason. I saw them go back into the Men’s dept, but I was really too groggy to care. I don’t really wake up until about 1 PM, so anything before that is kinda like a dream.

So, I continue running my clothes, when one of the guys kinda eyes me, and says “‘Sup?” I kinda nod at him, but really don’t pay him any mind ’cause I hate customers. So, he pretends to look at a few womens clothes, which i note as peculiar, but really don’t care yet because, Hey, maybe he’s one of those Down Low gay guys I’ve been reading so much about these days. Next thing I know, the phone rings…

I go over to answer, but no one’s on the other end. I say, “Hello? Hello?” but there’s no response. So, once I hang up, I notice Jeff coming over to me, with an empty pant hanger in hand. “We got lifted,” he says. I look over, and The Three A-Negroes are definitely gone. Not sure if the whole phone call thing had anything to do with them, or if it was just a diversion, but we had definitely been lifted.

Let’s be real. H&M’s easy’s to steal from. I’m not condoning it, nor am I telling anyone anything they didn’t already know. The shit’s cheap. If you wanna risk prosecution for that shit, I pity you, but hey, “To each, his own…”

This was just the beginning of the days drama, though…

While we try to figure out what had gone wrong, Demetrius, the cleaning guy, comes over and tells us that some old guy had fallen near the mall’s escalator. Apparently, he had witnessed it, and now there was a crowd forming around the guy. “I had to share it with somebody!” he told us. Well, these things are like car accidents, and you HAVE to see what’s going on. I couldn’t leave the store, so Jeff went out to see what was going on. Sure enough, some old guy had fallen and they wouldn’t let him get up. We knew this sucked for the old guy, but c’mon, you had to laugh a little. Well, those were chuckles I’d be paying for soon enough…

About an hr later, after we’d told Susan about the morning’s events, Jeff and I noticed another guy in the Men’s dept. with a whole bunch of shopping bags. He was kinda watching him, but I was busy and also pretty convinced that there was no way we’d be ganked twice in the same morning. Next thing I knew, here comes Jeff with another jeans hanger. “I refuse to believe that guy stole anything!” I said. Yes, there was a hanger, and yes, he’d been in the department, and yes, he had the bags, but I couldn’t believe life worked like that. I COULD NOT believe that.

It was like we were being studied and targeted. Everything up to this day had been trying, and we were slowly dragging across the finish line of our stretch days. We couldn’t take anymore. It was the WORST possible day for us, staffing-wise. It was just me and Jeff on the floor. No one to watch the blindspots. No one to watch customers. Just the two of us, and we couldn’t make it if we tried…

So, it’s about noon now, and we’ve had an old man fall, and two shopliftings…It was gonna be “one of those days”…

Well, I’ve told people that, as bad as the customers are, I’ve yet to have my own irate, disagrreable customer. In fact, I’d welcomed it, ’cause as smary as I can be, I couldn’t wait to tell off some old bitch. Well, Hate, as I suppose Love, comes when you’re not looking for it. And I wasn’t ready for it today.

I had jumped on the register to help Jeff out, and this guy came up who wanted to return a fleece for his girlfriend. He had her credit card and all, but I’m not allowed to swipe a card without ID. I told him this, and he blows up, “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all day! If I’d known that, I’d have gotten her ID as I left this morning!”

I proceed to tell him that, honestly, I couldn’t have done it WITH the ID. She really needed to be there with her card. I can’t do anything with a CC without ID and the cardholder needs to be present.

“That’s not what you just told me! You told me something different before! Get me the manager, ’cause you’re obviously not him!”

He’s all huffing and puffing, and pissing me off to boot.

“The manager’s not available, so you’ll have to wait.”

“I don’t care where she is, get her out here!”

“Look,” I said, “you don’t have the ID, and your gf’s not here. It’s a moot point. It’s done!”

“I want the manager!”

“She’s in a meeting!”

“I don’t care. I’ll wait”

“You’re gonna have to wait!”

“I’ll WAIT!”

“Then, WAIT!”

“Hey, there’s no need to give me attitude!”

“Actually, SIR, you’re the one giving ME attitude!”

He starts to grumble, but I hear him call me an asshole. I wanted to jump over the counter and kick his ass. i mean beat his ass. Not just for me, but for every other stupid injustice in the world over the ages. I wanted to beat him for shit I didn’t even care about. I wanted to beat him for shit he hadn’t even anything to do with. I wanted to beat him for slavery. i wanted to beat him for the atrocities that befell the Native Americans. I wanted to beat him for the cancellation of Knight Rider. But most of all, i just wanted to beat him. There were tears welling up, and I just wanted his blood. Somehow, I kept my composure, as he stood there, waiting for a manager.

He tired of waiting, and began to ask Jeff for the number for Corporate. Well, two things, dipshit! NONE of us know the number to corporate. Hell, maybe that’s something he could help ME with! Secondly, Corporate gives two shits about customers. They’re the ones who tell us to be like this! You think you’re gonna find a European that promotes politeness?!! Good luck, bitch! So, of course, Jeff has to ask me, and I give him the standard, “Go to the website, hm.com” He just kinda ignored me.

Suddenly, Caroline walks in. Another manager. The stretch is over. But I didn’t feel like celebrating. I just needed someone to take care of this asshole so I didn’t have to see his ugly ass anymore. Girlfriend, my ass! Ohh..so many things went through my head. “Apparently, she’s not with you for your personality,” I thought. But the time for smarmy was over. The way i’d be happy was feeling my fist go into his eye.

Caroline talks to him, and he changes his tune with her. No mention of calling me an asshole or anything. She proceeds to tell him how it’s our policy, and I figure he’s gonna kirk out on her, too. I was preparing my smug smile, followed by a “Who’s the asshole now?”, but the next thing I knew, she was doing the return like we’re NOT supposed to do. It’s a fucking liability issue. She fucking sold out.

This, folks, is why I hate this place. I deal with sons-of-bitches like this everyday, but it never escalates to this point. And the customer is NOT always right. At H&M, the customer wants something for nothing. I’d understand if my clientelle matched my merchandise. Meaning, I’d much rather deal with ghetto-ass people buying $4.90 spandex tops than deal with rich, fat, W.A.S.P.’s trying to haggle on a $4.90 spandex top. And we’re taught all this stuff about what we are and aren’t to do, only to be punked by a manager who “breaks the rules just this once” to make some asshole happy. If this is what retail’s all about, count me out. I was about to walk out.

Susan knows me, and knew that i was MAJORLY upset about it. She and Caroline took me into the office, and tried to calm me down. Starting telling me how much of an asset I was to them, etc. Then, they mentioned something that surprised me. Something I wasn’t really ready for. It was meant to cheer me up. Did it? Yes. I mean, it had been a LONG 10 days, but the war was finally over. Susan and I could resume our lives. I was glad Caroline was back to alleviate the burden, but this new nugget, this was more than a carrot being dangled. This was, to quote a cliche, “An offer I couldn’t refuse.”

What was it? Well, I can’t say right now… Why? because it’s too soon, and nothing’s set in stone. Also, because someone who may be reading this site might be in for a rude awakening. And, because I LOVE a good dangling plotline. So, stay tuned, ’cause I’m gonna reveal “the offer” very soon…

26th Sep2004

H&M: Not As Exciting As I Try To Make It Sound

by Will

OK, confession time. Despite the teaser and the anticipation, there will be no follow-up to “Westman: Disassembled”. In my “Dan Rather moment”, I must say that as exciting as the whole thing sounded, I couldn’t, for the life of me, find a way to make a whole entry as entertaining as the teaser made it out to be. Yeah, the Unrealibles didn’t show, and I had to work their hours. Big whoop! It happens every other day. Yeah, there was a power outage, which lasted for about 3 minutes. The shoplifter got away, and while there was a tornado, it came nowhere near H&M. But I sure had ya going, didn’t I? Anyway, it WAS an exciting time, but over the past week, the anxiety has worn off, and I can’t really remember what was so thrilling about it. So, we’re gonna scrap that “episode” and come up with something better. This experience will just teach me to stop predicting life, and only post it when it happens. So, with that in mind, stay tuned for the NEW “Westman: Disassembled”. Same theme, different vibe…(yeah, I don’t really learn from my mistakes, but the coming tale’s a doozy!)

19th Sep2004

Westman: Disassembled Teaser

by Will

Wow…this is post #250. It’s seems that celebration is in order. Unfortunately, I’m too tired. i’ve been working 14-hr days, and I haven’t the energy to blog. So, I leave you with a teaser for the next episode: “Westman: Disassembled!”

“What happens when H&M’s Unreliables skip work? Who will bear the burden? Will it be our hero, Will? And what’s this talk of him on the verge of a nervous breakdown? Add in a shoplifter, missing managers, and a power outage, and you’ve got the setting for “Westman: Disassembled!” Oh yeah, did we also mention that a tornado’s headed straight for H&M? Stay tuned, because just when you think things can’t get any worse…they do!”

18th Sep2004

Well, I Know How To Pronounce “Ryu”

by Will

I can be such an inappropriate dork, but sometimes I just can’t help it..

Today, a girl came to the register, and as I swiped her card, I noticed her name was “Xiaxou”.

“How do you pronounce that?” I asked.

“ZI-zoo,” she responded.

“Now, I know!” I exclaimed.

She looked at me funny.

“Well, ya see,” I explained, “there’s this video game character whose name is spelled the same way, and I’ve been trying pronounce it for years…”

She looked at me, uncomfortably…

“…Tekken,” I stammered. “The game is ‘Tekken’…in case you were wondering. Well, have a good day…”

“…thanks…” And she quickly walked away. Actually, she performed a 16-hit combo on me. THEN, she walked away…

Oh well, at least I learned something 😛

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