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I am Liz


When I first started working at Books-A-Million over two years ago, much of my initial training was given to me by a girl named Liz. Most people couldn't pronounce her last name so we just called her Liz N. (since there was another Liz also). One of the biggest problems with our bookstore is that no one receives adequate training. It is common that someone will be given a crash course on the register and then left alone up there after only an hour of training, or expected to be able to field customer service questions alone after a couple hours. Sorry, but when you first start working at the store, you know nothing more than a customer, and customers generally come to the employees when they can't figure things out by common sense. It's tough to help a customer if you don't know anything more than they do.

My first day at work involved learning the customer service desk; the guy teaching me, Chris, was one of the most laid-back people in the world. He told me that he was going to take my training slowly because when HE'D first started, they'd tried that crash-course thing on him, resulting in NONE of the information sticking. So, my first night, I learned where solitaire was on the computer, and I learned that I was allowed to walk away from the desk any time I wanted. I was also taught how to use the telephone and how the time card puncher worked. I listened to my manager deal with her major problem that day: She was quite annoyed that Britney Spears looked like a giant ho on the front of some magazine. I began to have doubts about whether I wanted to work there.

Flash forward to a montage of my training. Working days, I was mostly trained by Liz. I was to be the customer service desk person, but Liz had been doing it for over a year and was very experienced and fast at doing her work. She often seemed impatient with me or disappointed in my work, mostly because I hadn't known something was part of my job (see above bitching about lack of training) or because I asked her lots of questions trying to make heads or tails of what exactly I was here to do. Since some of the customer service duties needed to be handled by someone who was already competent, or because certain duties were under strict deadlines, she sometimes just took over to do things and just let me "help" her without explaining what the hell she was doing. I managed to get the general idea and ask some questions, but mostly it was from watching her that I received my initial training.

One day, a manager came up to Liz and asked what she was doing, and it turned out she was drafting a letter to fax to all the media specialists in the area schools, asking that they make us aware of their needs for the semester so that we could have in stock the books every kid would need. She was apparently doing this on her own without any prompt from upper management, and when the manager discovered she was looking ahead like that and doing something helpful for the company, he praised her, saying, "Man, I wish we had a few more Lizzes."

That stuck with me for some reason. I wanted to be good at my stupid little job, so that the managers would wish there were more of me. I determined that if I stayed with this job, I would eventually be the kind of person everyone looked to for answers and opinions, the kind of worker who always got things done on time and was able to think ahead, the kind of valuable employee who would not only pull her weight but help train others and make newbies feel more secure, to always be someone to handle tough situations.

Flash forward again, two years.

I've been promoted twice (though I refuse to go any higher since that would put me in management). I keep my department, the children's section, in very good order and very organized, and I always have the books out in a couple days. I can run the register, man the customer service desk, put books away, organize a section. I've corrected and reminded managers of important things, everything from how newspapers should be put out to offering opinions of what goals I think are the most important. I make a point of telling every new person I work with that they can always ask me anything and I will try to help them, and I try to make sure the first few days they're around they always know where to find me or how to page me so that they will never feel as abandoned as I felt during my sick excuse for training.

Our district manager freaks out over silly things sometimes, so I knew that she would freak out if the Halloween books didn't come off of displays immediately after Halloween was over. Unfortunately, I was not scheduled to work the day after Halloween, so I figured no one would know what to do with the children's displays. The Halloween display changes from Halloween to Nickelodeon and Nickelodeon seasonal books, so I went through and made special boxes of all the products the lists called for, labeled them, and wrote a note to that day's opening manager explaining what to do with them. It occurred to me that such behavior is reminiscent of how Liz worked.

Liz got a better job. She got hired and gave her notice, but then didn't come to work the last four days on her schedule. Then she wanted to work at our store again, part-time. I was worried about her coming back, because even though I liked her and her sense of humor (she once trained me on the cash register, and signed her fake credit card slip "BitchWhore," to my amusement), she had also treated me with disrespect at times and acted like my questions were silly, and I imagined that she would automatically treat me the same way she had before, forgetting that in her absence I'd acquired over a year of experience.

Long story short, Liz could not get re-hired because she'd been marked "non-rehireable" by our manager, and our district manager refused to change it on the records. He claimed it was a mistake, but by our bookstore's rules you can't get re-hired if you don't stay for all of the days your notice covers. I must say that in all the ways I've tried to be like her, I will never do that. Not even if I win the lottery.

I have yet to hear anyone say they wished there were more of me. But that's all right. Now I'm the store's Liz, and I've outlasted most of the people who remember her.


You may not hear them say it, but I'd bet that they do! Good for you! [Bunny_1122]

hey whats up? if your ever having a bad day, or are just in need of a good laugh, then come and check out my diary. it is full of the best humor to cheer you up! talk to you later. nmb! bye!!! [GIA208]

I'm sure they all appreciate you! [BellaSoliel]

I know exactly how you feel and it sucks. Where I work, they don't know how to train anyone properly. It's pretty much just pick it up after a week, learn the rest on your own, and don't screw anything up. I don't think managers understand how much a "you're doing a great job" would really be appreciated. But, just hang in there and you'll get the recognition you deserve one day. [-jess-]

yes- wait until you are through with ALL of your days before you tell them to kiss your ass :) [wunderkont]

LizLiz just IzIz. [Freder]

^____^ You're a very competent worker; plus you're organized. I wish I could be a Liz...oh well, that's not the life for me. ::picks up shovel and digs holes:: [katqueen]

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