Thursday, May 14, 2015

2015: A Soul-Searching Odyssey, Part 3 -- The Convenience Store, or There's No Way Out Of Here

While I was having roommate issues, I was also trying to settle in to the new store I was managing. It was definitely a busier store. It was a hard-working staff, but at the same time morale was low and I figured out why pretty quickly.

When I was managing the Marlboro store, I had 135 hours of payroll to work with per week. In Manchester, I had 205. This sounds like a lot more. But when I started to crunch the numbers, it wasn't, and here's why:

* Manchester was a 24-hour store, which meant there were 5 1/2 hours per day it was open that my old store wasn't.

* In Marlboro, because it was not as busy a store, I was expected to work 20 hours a week in the store by myself, working the register as well as doing all the manager stuff -- processing invoices, daily sales paperwork, scanning deliveries, stocking the cooler, etc. -- that store managers do. (Most of the time I worked alone about 10 hours a week. But when associates took vacation or sick time, I would always get stuck floating their shifts for them and in those weeks I'd work about 50 hours a week by myself, so if you averaged it out over the course of a year it'd come to about 20.) Store managers are salaried, so my hours don't count as part of the 135. In Manchester, while I might hop on the register when an associate was taking a cigarette break, I didn't have any designated register shifts.

* The Marlboro store had a Dunkin' Donuts embedded in it, and while Dunkin's was a separate company that simply leased space from us, having a food service chain in the store still served a purpose in lessening my workload. The Dunkin's in Marlboro was open 16 hours a day (15 on weekends), and had double-coverage during the morning rush, so it generally ran 20 payroll hours a day. The Manchester store had no embedded food service chain, which meant in addition to providing the routine convenience store, we also had to put out donuts, make coffee, inventory food service, service machines when they need repair, etc. We were the Dunkin's.

One thing I've become good at is knowing my limitations. I'm talented at many things. Food service is not one of them. Anyone who knows me at least reasonably well knows I don't like coffee. I barely know how to make a pot. Trust me, nobody wants to drink a pot of coffee brewed by me. If I wanted to work in food service, I'd go work for Dunkin' Donuts.

So, going back to payroll hours, I did some quick math.

135 + 38.5 extra store hours + 20 extra non-manager hours = 193.5. And that's not including about 140 extra hours of food service that Dunkin's provided. I felt like I actually had fewer payroll hours to work with in Manchester. For a store that did twice the sales as Marlboro. No wonder this store had a graveyard of store managers before my arrival.

I don't want this to turn into a rant. Generally speaking Company A is a good company to work for, and I admired how hard-working the associates were. But it's never good when morale is an issue. People start to turn on each other. I became really good at giving pep talks, because there were several occasions when I felt like at least one associate was on the verge of quitting. The store had a classic rock soundtrack on the overhead speakers, and the overnight guy and I started joking that one of the soundtrack's regular songs -- "There's No Way Out of Here" -- was the store's anthem.

Also, I went to a gym regularly when I was still in the Worcester area, and I still had 25 unused personal training sessions that I'd already paid for. They weren't cheap. I used that as a excuse to get away from my roommate issues and headed down to Massachusetts continue to work out. But that's an extra two hours driving time I'm adding to my life, and the extra gas was nullifying any advantage I gained by not paying state income tax.

I start thinking about how nobody seems to be happy here. I start thinking about how I'm not as happy here. How I miss being in Massachusetts, where most of my family and friends are. The direct deposits with my big-ass raise are hitting my bank account, so I feel a little guilty. But quality of life is important, and you can't always put a price on that.

So one Sunday I'm on my laptop and I get an urge to surf job websites. On a whim, I apply for managerial openings with Company B and Company C.

Monday afternoon, I get a call from a phone number I don't recognize. I bounce it to voice mail. Whoever it is leaves a message. When I get out of work, I listen to it.

It's Company B.

Stay Tuned for Part 4, Blizzards and Negotiations  

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