Jobs, Part 13: Store Support Coordinator, Cheryl & Co.

Store Support Coordinator at Cheryl & Co.: After getting quickly dismissed from Qwest, it was through an ex-coworker at Kohl’s I was able to land an interview at Cheryl & Co.

One of the department managers had a family member (Mom, I think) who worked at Cheryl’s and recommended me for a position in the Westerville home office. Turned out the LuAnn, the Stores Coordinator, was looking for some help. I interviewed and got the job as the Store Support Coordinator. My job would be fairly straight forward – help LuAnn with everything at the home office while she visited the stores. I did payroll, putting together sales data, resolving customer service issues and a variety of other jobs over my (approximately) two years.

There were several perks to my job, and the most obvious one was that I worked next door to a cookie factory. Now, I wasn’t the type of person to walk onto the production floor and just start grabbing stuff I wanted to eat, because I’m sure that would have been a health violation. However, it was not uncommon for the breakroom to be the dumping spot for broken, overcooked or otherwise discarded cookies, and I was not opposed to taking advantage of that. In fact, I ate so many cookies, it was during my time at Cheryl’s I had to go on my first diet, and when I drank diet pop for the first time.

The other perk was that my boss was rarely in the home office since she was out at the stores. I’m not ashamed to admit I took advantage of her absence, although I’ll say I always got my work done first. During the lean months (i.e. not November and December), when the day-to-day was fairly rountine, I would use my downtime to book shows for my band, and in fact the first few months of 2002 were busy booking the first outside the Midwest tour my band along with our friends band.

I cannot go without mentioned that I was at Cheryl’s when 9/11 happened. I have very strong memories of that day. As I listened to Howard Stern on my ride into work each day, it was through his broadcast that I learned of the first plane. Business almost came to a halt that day as everyone first jumped on the internet to get updates, but sites like CNN.com went down from the traffic. Luckily, one of the higher-ups had a t.v. in their office, and we crowded around, soon seeing the first then second towers fall.

For quite a while after that, it felt like everything had changed, but in reality nothing changed, other than the government eroded privacy rights and drove up defense spending. And it drove the racist lunatic fringe to the forefront of the right, but that’s for another post.

At Cheryl’s, everyone worked under the cloud of Cheryl herself. She seemed to fire and hire people on a whim, regardless if whatever problem they were supposedly responsible for. This included my two direct supervisors, Mike and LuAnn. Mike was let go after one-year, just after the Christmas season of 2001. In early 2002, LuAnn was also let go. It was around this time I got called into Cheryl’s office where she proceded to tell me how I was a good worker, team member and valuable part of the stores department.

She fired me two weeks later.

It wasn’t without cause, I suppose. A new stores manager was brought in, a woman who had never worked in retail and primarily been a real estate agent. Her first directive was to have all the store managers and myself read the book “Who Moved My Cheese?,” which is a management book for employees to read about how they need to suck it up and accept whatever shit management gives them, and ususually provided by managers so ineffective and out of their depth the first thing they think of is for their staff is a reading assignment like it’s third grade.

The meeting at which we were to all discuss the book did not go well, or it went great, as I openly mocked and criticized the book, which gave the store managers a chuckle but did not impress my new boss. And two weeks after being praised by the owner of the company, my “position was no longer available,” which is the polite way of saying you’re fired.

Coincidentally, right around this time the band van was stolen, and I was able to live off the insurance money for several months while I looked for a new job.

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