Monday, November 28, 2011

More Black Friday Tales.

There have been a lot of news stories about what happened on Black Friday. Probably the worst was a lady who used pepper spray on people at a Walmart in California to try and get an Xbox. There were scattered reports throughout the country about people being attacked in parking lots and a few other reports of violence that took place in stores during the sale. Obviously, people ignored the petitions that were trying to shame stores because they dared to open earlier. They are saying that sales this year were higher than they have ever been. That's really punishing those retailers and making the point about them ruining Thanksgiving. Look for next years sales to start even earlier.

I did have to deal with a couple people that didn't quite get the concept behind the Black Friday sales. The big sale items are limited quantities. One man asked me when we were going to get more of the laptop computers in and for that price and another made the comment that when we got more Xbox's in that he could get one for that Black Friday price. Neither one wanted to accept the answer that I gave them when I told them the items would no longer be available at that price. Last night we had a gentleman who came in who had bought one of the 40 inch television sets and the set was not working. The set had been purchased at another store in another state, and he wanted a replacement for that price. The only 40 inch TV that we carry sells for over $300 more than he paid for that particular set. He couldn't understand why we would not sell him the one we had in stock for that price since he had waited in line for four hours to purchase his set. We did offer him a 32 inch set we sold for $20 more than what he had paid but he wanted a larger size than that, so he had to settle for a refund. That does happen and unfortunately, this time of year there's nothing more that we can do.

Early Sunday morning, I had the pleasure of talking with a lady who knew more about where to find items in the store than I did. Just because I'm in there five days a week I obviously know nothing. She was looking for a home security system that we had advertised. When I told her that we didn't carry that in electronics, she argued with me. After spending about 3 minutes trying to convince her I finally told her that I would put her on hold and get someone from the hardware department to help, which is where this security systems are located. She had to have the last word and told me, " You can transfer me to hardware, but I know they are in electronics."

I have a lot of fun with the pallets of merchandise that are brought out that have items on it that don't belong in electronics. I make jokes about it and I'm not upset with the guys in the back, as I have unloaded trucks and when you're dealing with as many pieces of freight as they do every night there are bound to be mistakes. Whenever I see something I'll make a joke of how it could fit into electronics. Saturday night on my pallet I had two of these:

For those of you who have never seen one of those before it is a 10 inch buffer which is used to polish a car. So how to use it in electronics? Easy. This is the new way of cleaning your TV screen. It will definitely help us increase sales when people bust the screens up and have to buy new ones.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Surviving Another Year.

Another Black Friday is over and nothing out of the ordinary happened last night. The best description that I can come up with is it is like watching piranhas feed. I spent the first part of the night guiding people to a line where we were selling laptop computers for $198, and I was also near several pallets of small appliances. At 10 o'clock I attempted to cut plastic that the pallets were wrapped with, and I wasn't very successful at it. People were pulling stuff off before I could do anything, not to mention I had to be careful not to cut anybody. The sale actually started a couple of minutes early because one customer shouted it was time and started ripping the plastic. Of course, that started the feeding frenzy. I wasn't nearby, but I was told that they had some excitement around the towels that were on sale. One enterprising young lady basically jumped onto the display and began tossing towels over her shoulder to a friend. Naturally, there were several people who could not understand why the items that went on sale at midnight were not available at 4 AM.

When I returned from lunch, I was drafted into running a register in the electronics department. I don't mind as much doing it there because you're not trapped in one spot. After getting the lines caught up I spent the rest of the morning assisting customers and ringing up a few more sales. The first part of the night, drug a little bit, but then the second part flew by. I left around 5:30. There had been reports that people are not going to be turning out like they had in the past. I'm not sure how things were in the rest of the country, but the crowds here were as big as ever.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving.

I hope that everyone who reads this has a really nice Thanksgiving. I have already had my Thanksgiving meal, beef tips and gravy and mashed potatoes, which I ate at eight o'clock this morning. I don't eat turkey because I don't believe in cannibalism. ( Sadly, I have actually had to explain that joke to some people.) A couple of my friends had invited me to their homes for today, but since I have to go to work at eight o'clock tonight, I declined. Tomorrow I'll comment on the madness of this year's Black Friday sale.

The first Thanksgiving that my wife and I had together was memorable. She had injured her knee and was not able to cook. We were living in Hanover Park, Illinois, and were about 200 miles away from family. She enjoyed turkey and I offered to fix it. Following her directions on how to do it everything appeared to be going well. When carving up the turkey, I found out that they had placed two bags inside the turkey. I had removed the one from the main cavity, but they had also put one inside the neck, which I hadn't bothered to check. Of course, throughout the years, I had several reminders of doing that. However, anytime she brought that subject up, I reminded her of the first meatloaf that she made for me. I don't really know what she did wrong, but that thing was inedible.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Find A Different Profession.

A man who work for Target in Omaha, Nebraska, is protesting the fact that he has to come in to work at 11 PM on Thanksgiving night. He has started an online petition wanting people to sign to tell Target that they should not make anyone come in that night. Considering the fact that he has worked for Target for three years, and should have a basic understanding of the nature of retail, he should realize that the season we are entering into is the busiest time of the year. I can sympathize a little about schedule changes, considering I am going in two hours earlier than normal, but again, it goes with the season. The customers are there to buy and if you don't take care them, they will go elsewhere.

Not all retail establishments are open on Thanksgiving, but a lot of them are. My employer is open 24 hours a day, I worked for Kmart, which was always open on Thanksgiving, plus working in hospitals and nursing homes were somebody has to work on the holidays.  The advantage to working holidays is added pay. It was a little harder when my wife was alive, but the extra money was always too good to pass up. Now that I am single, it really doesn't matter to me whether I work them or not. In retail working weekends and holidays goes with the territory. If you're not willing to do that, you really need to find a different job. I agree that Black Friday is starting to get a little ridiculous, but that is the nature of the beast. Each year, somebody seems to want to up the ante. This year my employer announced that there will be a sale starting at 10 PM Thanksgiving night and another at midnight. Toys "R" Us took that one step further and announced their sale will start at 9 PM. Most other stores will be opening at midnight, Sears is scheduled to open at 4 AM and Kmart at 5 AM. If people are truly upset with the stores doing this then they won't come and shop. Does anybody really see that happening? That is the only way that opening at these times will stop.

Part of working retail is customer service. If you don't like helping people you need to be doing something else. I have always tried to do anything I can to help people. Last night I made a lady extremely happy. She was looking for a PSP, the portable PlayStation, which happened to be out of stock. It was a Christmas gift for her husband and she had just put in a 13 hour day at a restaurant to pay for it. I told her that we could order it through my employer's website and have it delivered to the store for free, which would take about a week. She really brightened up and we went to the computer and placed the order. She kept telling me how happy she was, and she knows one of the managers at the store and she is going to tell him about the service I provided. I don't see where I did anything spectacular, I just was doing my job. The look on her face was my reward. That is where I get most of my work satisfaction, knowing that I was able to help somebody. It doesn't work out that way all the time, but it really is nice when I am able to. Too many times when people ask for help, all they will get is we don't have that. When somebody is there with cash in hand, ready to buy something, you need to do all you can to close that sale. If not, they will go somewhere else to find what they need. There are those customers who no matter what you do for them will never be happy, but I've always found them to be in the minority. I still do everything I can for them and if they're not happy with it, they are the ones that have to deal with it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Second Chances.

Next year looks to be a pretty interesting year for the Chicago Cubs. There is a new general manager, Theo Epstein, a new manager about to be announced, probably Dale Sveum, and a major headache will be given another chance.

Last August I wrote about Carlos Zambrano's meltdown and his subsequent suspension. Zambrano has met with Epstein and will be given an opportunity to make the team next spring. I have mixed feelings about that. While I agree that everyone deserves a second chance, Zambrano has had more than one to mend his ways. As good a pitcher as he can be when he has his head on right, he can be one of the worst when he lets his emotions get the better of him. The decision to keep them probably rests on the fact that he will be paid $18 million next year whether he pitches or not. It would be hard to find a team willing to pick up that salary, not to mention taking the risk on the attitude. So, for better or for worse, Carlos is still around. Hopefully the suspension opened his eyes and he will come to spring training a reformed man.

Unless something drastic happens Aramis Ramirez has played his last game for the Cubs. I like Ramirez and he puts up very good numbers, but the numbers don't translate very good into wins. Considering the amount of money that he wants, he is not really worth the price that he wants. I am sure he will get it, but I don't see the Cubs paying that much.

I really don't have in the predictions for next year, but I am looking forward to see what Epstein has up his sleeve. He did a very good job in Boston, ending the curse of the Bambino, and now we get a see what he can do with the curse of the goat.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A WWE Style Wedding.

This is an usual way to celebrate your marriage.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Now On DVD And An Underhanded Marketing Decision.

There were only two "new" releases this week, and only one of them appeared in theaters. The Tom Hanks movie, Larry Crowne, brought in $35,608,245 and was rated 6.0 on the IMDB. I really have nothing to say about the movie because I have not seen it and don't plan on changing that.

The second release was two short cartoons based on the movie How To Train Your Dragon. The titles of them are Gift Of the Night Fury and Book Of Dragons. Again, I don't have much to say about these because I have not seen the movie that they are based on.

Two other DVDs did come out last night, but considering that they were released a few weeks ago in a different form, I don't consider them new releases. Both movies were from Disney, The Lion King and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. When first released. You can only buy them in a Blu-ray/DVD combo set. I had several people asking me for just the DVD by itself, and I disappointed those people by telling them it was not available. Now they are available, but I wonder how many people paid the extra and now have Blu-ray copies that they can't use. To me it was kind of underhanded of Disney to release them this way. I understand the marketing behind it, but I totally disagree with it. It strikes me as being insensitive to the wants of the consumer. Blu-ray is the wave of the future and in my opinion it will be about two more years before the option is taken away from us and DVD goes the way of VHS. Still, I think it was kind of dirty of Disney to do it this way.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Video Game Madness.

Last week I mentioned about the madness that went on with the release of the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. This is by far the best selling video game that I have been associated with, including the time when I was electronics manager at Kmart. I do not play these type of games myself because I am no good at them, but this game seems to be bringing out the warrior in some people. The weekend before it was released, a gang in France hijacked a truck and stole 6000 copies of the game. In Modern Warfare style, they used tear gas to stop the truck. The estimated worth of the shipment was $500,000.

In Aurora, Colorado, a man went into the local Best Buy and claimed that he had pre-ordered the game. When they informed him that they had sold out, he got angry and threatened to shoot the employees when they went to their cars. If that wasn't enough, he also threatened to blow up the store for good measure. The man was not arrested but was issued a summons to appear. In an interview. He said he did not know that his words could get him in trouble. Obviously he's not been paying attention to the news lately.

On that same night in Kansas City, Missouri, a young man got tired of waiting in line at a Game Stop and decided to simply follow somebody home and rob them of their copy. That part of the plan went well, but unfortunately for the robber his intended victim decided to fight back, even though the robber did have a gun. It obviously was not the smartest thing that the intended victim had ever done, but he did prevail in this instance. Police went to the Game Stop to investigate, and the robber was there waiting to purchase his game. It probably will be a while before he gets to play the game.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Downfall Of A Legend.

The sad story out of Penn State University got a little sadder yesterday when the university was forced to fire head football coach Joe Paterno. Earlier in the day, Paterno had seen the handwriting on the wall and had announced that he was retiring at the end of this season. My friend John Simcoe had posted that article on his Facebook page and I had commented that Paterno should have resigned immediately. I don't believe the Paterno is guilty of any crime, but I also believe he did not do enough when he was told about the accusations against Jerry Sandusky. It is a bad way to bring to a close such a brilliant coaching career.

Of course, there are people commenting that the authorities are overreacting by firing Paterno, since he has not been accused of anything.  I wonder if any of those were among the ones who wanted Paterno fired in 2004, after Penn State had losing seasons in four of the previous five years. Penn State students have taken to the streets to protest the firing. I wonder if they would be there if the team was 1-8 instead of 8-1. There once was a time when athletes could get away with almost anything , but fortunately, that day has passed and players are being held accountable for their actions.

The officials of Penn State are doing the right thing by cleaning house of those who knew what was going on. Criminal charges will probably be brought against several other people for protecting Sandusky. I have no sympathy for them. Covering those crimes up is inexcusable.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Personal Shopper.

Personal shoppers a been around for a while. Usually they are employed by either stores as a service to their customers or by those rich enough to afford the service. Now several people are trying to take it to the next level by offering their perform the job is for one day only. The day they are offering their services is the day after Thanksgiving, or as those of us who work retail lovingly call it, Black Friday. Most of those who are offering this are unemployed and trying to earn some money for their Christmas. I really do wish them well and they will definitely be earning their money.

I have worked enough Black Friday's that the only way you will find me in a store on that night is if I am working there and they are paying me to be there. There is no bargain worth going through all the hassle that you have to put up with on that night. I would much rather pay full price then to go through that. Of course, I will be working it again this year, but I like to have a major change from what I have done in the past. Since I am now cash register trained I more than likely will be doing that. The idea of that really doesn't thrill me, but it actually would be better than standing by a pallet waiting for the proper time to begin selling the merchandise. Just standing makes for an awful long night and if you're running a register you stay pretty busy. I'll let you know how that works out that day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Releases And Midnight Madness.

Last night was a  very light night for new releases. I lead with the box office champion, but this one wasn't very hard for the movie The Change–up. Of course, had the movie that's coming out Friday night been released last night, this would not be the case. The Change–up was a box office disappointment. It had a $52 million budget and only brought in $37,081,475 and it is rated a 6.5 on the IMDB. I have not seen this movie and do not plan on doing so. This basic story has been done too many times and I really haven't cared for any version of it.

The Reunion is the latest movie from WWE productions. I think Vince McMahon wants to become the next Cecil B. DeMille. This movie was supposedly released on a limited scale. If it was Box Office Mojo did not track it. The IMDB rates it a 4.1.

The real big release last night was the game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Last night was the first time that I had seen a big crowd waiting to purchase a game. Of course the fact that we held a tournament before the release time helped that out tremendously. I did not hear exactly how many copies we sold, but with two registers running it took half an hour to take care of everybody that was waiting. It was like a mini Black Friday, with the major difference being we had a very civil crowd. There wasn't anybody trying to cut in line, and nobody complained about having to wait. I have been told that the busiest that the store has been on a midnight release was when Twilight: New Moon came out. That gives me something to look forward to when the next Twilight comes out next spring. As far as the game goes, it is one that I do not play. I am no good at those type of games. I can hit the button fast enough and end up getting killed real quick. Of course, If I was playing somebody else, they would enjoy it because they would be winning all the time.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Songs.

This was the number one song on the Billboard charts on this day in 1956. Why am I posting it? That was the day I was born. My original plan was for that to be the only song that I posted today. However, the time change created a lot of confusion at work last night. A lot of people had trouble grasping how it worked. I decided that the night needed a theme song and this was it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Specialty Salad.

It's always nice getting something extra when you buy something. A woman in South Pasadena, California got that when she bought a prepackaged salad at Costco. The salad came complete with a live tree frog in it. I had recalled reading a story a few years ago about the same thing, but that story was unconfirmed. This time there is some credibility to the tale. Just watch this video:

It is believed that the frog made it through the processing system because the lettuce was not chopped. The salad was organic, so no pesticides  were used and it would've been possible for the frog to have passed through the packaging process. Normally when you read about a story like this you see the person obtaining a lawyer and preparing to file a lawsuit against the store. Happily, this story doesn't have that in it. All the lady who found the frog wanted was a refund on the salad, and to keep the frog. It is refreshing to read about somebody with that kind of an attitude. Not everything that happens should lead to somebody trying to get rich quick.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

They Transplanted What?

The things that modern medicine can do today is astounding. I can remember hearing about the first heart transplant, which was done in 1967 when I was 11 years old. The hospital that I worked for in Illinois did a lot of kidney transplants. Doctors have been successful with many other types, including double lung transplants and in the last few years, they've added faces to the list. I just recently read about the most recent types that doctors have been doing and it really is a little disgusting. They are now doing fecal transplant's. To phrase it like Mike Rowe would, they really are taking poo from one person and putting it in somebody else.

So why would a doctor do this? There is an infection called C. diff, which causes chronic diarrhea, and can be fatal. By placing the fecal matter into the colon of a person that antibiotics cannot help, it allows the natural bacteria to overcome the C. diff infection. The infection mainly effects older people, but it is becoming more widespread. I am not sure who came up with the idea to do this, but it is proving to be very effective.

We are seeing more and more diseases that are antibiotic resistant. I wonder if we not be coming to germ conscious and are bringing a lot of it upon ourselves. There are a lot of antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers that are becoming more widespread and their usage. It is possible that this is causing some of these infectious strains to become resistant. Not all bacteria is bad, and we run the potential of doing more harm than good. We may be killing ourselves with good intentions.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Now On DVD.

The big movie this week was Pixar's Cars 2, which of course was a sequel to the 2006 movie Cars. I may be alone in this, but I am not a huge fan of Pixar movies. They are not bad movies, but there is just something about them that I do not enjoy. The only one that I really like was The Incredible's. I have seen the first Cars movie, but I have no desire to see this one. It was somewhat of a box office disappointment as it only brought in $191,130,189. The disappointment being the fact that they spent $200 million to make the movie. Of course, overseas sales did help tremendously and it ended up totaling over $551 million. The IMDB rates the movie a 6.5.

 The second new release was the romantic comedy Crazy Stupid Love. I like Steve Carell, but I'll pass on this one. It did fairly well in the box office, bringing in $83,904,895 and is rated a 7.6 by the IMDB.

The other new movie released was a love story Water For Elephants. This one stars Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. This movie has somewhat of a local connection as part of it was filmed in Chattanooga. That still is not enough for me to want to see this movie. It brought in $58,709,717 and is rated 7.0 on the IMDB.