I managed a grocery store for a few years. It wasn't your typical neighborhood mom and pop store, but an 80,000 sq. ft. big box type, like the size of a Super Wal-Mart, except we marketed to the more affluent. Between the part-time and full-time, I had around 200 employees to keep track of at any given moment. The following are some of the stupidest things I witnessed while managing. Fair warning, this one is a bit long.
* Ice Cream. One day we received an unusually large frozen order. So big, in fact, that it all wouldn't fit in the freezer in the back room. My frozen foods department head asked the meat manager if he could temporarily store a pallet of ice cream in his walk in cooler until he had a chance to work it... that way it would not melt before he had time to work the product to the shelf. It was a great idea, except he totally forgot about the pallet. The afternoon part time help in the meat department noticed the pallet later that afternoon, but were too stupid to think anything of it. Over the course of the night, it all melted, and at 7am the next morning my meat manager calls me to the back. His entire cooler floor is covered with melted ice cream.
* The $100 Bill. Sometimes security cameras are great for going back and seeing what actually happened after the fact. This kid comes up to me one afternoon and says, "Mr. *****, I think I lost a $100 bill." The kid looks like he's about to cry.
Turns out, the kid had a customer come through his lane and make his purchase with a $100 bill, and he had to use most of the bills in his register as change to give back to the shopper. The kid, needing change for future customers, removed the $100 bill from his drawer and started to walk to the customer service desk to get more 10's 5's and 1's. But before he could get to the desk, another customer entered his check lane and demanded to be checked out, because he was in a hurry. The kid, picks up a shopping basket, and places the bill under the basket on the closed checklane beside his. His "reasoning" was that he didn't want to lose the bill, but he wanted to hide it so no one would see it, and he didn't want to put it in his pocket because he was afraid someone would think he was trying to steal it. While he's checking out the customer, another employee comes by, collecting baskets. The other employee comes by, picks up the basket, and fails to notice the bill. Then some extremely lucky and dishonest customer walks by, notices the bill just laying there on an abandoned checklane, and looks around in shock. The customer snatches the bill, shoves it in his pocket, and hits the front door. Two minutes later, the employee finishes the order, turns around to get his $100 bill, and then scratches his head.
* RF Handhelds. If you've ever been in any type of retail store in your life, you've probably seen people using hand held scanners. These electronic devices are used for ordering product, controlling inventory, making price changes, etc. They also are not cheap. Ours cost between $1,500 and $2,000 apiece. One employee was brilliant enough to put his in an empty cardboard box while he was working his order. The employee took his boxes to the baler (a giant metal compactor that crushes cardboard into a giant brick to be sent back to the warehouse) and... you guessed it. He said that right before the machine smashed the scanner, he realized what he had done, but by that point it was too late to do anything. I guess he didn't notice the big red button on the side of the machine that says "STOP."
In a separate incident, I also had an employee send an RF handheld back to the warehouse in a Peyton tote. These are the plastic totes that most general merchandise comes in, which are sent back to the warehouse to be reused. Our Peyton warehouse was 300 miles away That one we were able to recover, though, because the warehouse called me and told me what they had found. Because of the type of product, I knew exactly which employee it was. I immediately paged that employee to come to my office ASAP.
* Bad/Stolen Checks. I have hundreds of stories about bad checks, but this one is the one I'll never forget.
I had just left the store for the night around 10 o'clock. My store had a gas station at the end of the shopping center, and most days during the summer I rode my motorcycle to work. I needed gas, so I stopped at the station to fill up. While I'm filling up, I do not look like the manager. I have ripped my tie off at this point, and I'm wearing a leather jacket with an unlit cigarette hanging in my mouth.
A SUV pulls up, with two black guys in it and the music thumpin', and the guy driving asks, "Hey man, you smoke?" Of course, I say, "Yeah, you need one?" And the guy says, "Nah, you want to buy a carton of Marlboros for $20?"
I didn't have any cash on me, and it seemed a little fishy to me, so I told him no. Then the guy drove away.
I walk up to my employee at the kiosk, and tell him what just happened. That's when he says, "Oh yeah, they just bought a bunch of cigarettes from me!"
I instantly knew what had happened.
"How many cartons?" I asked.
I asked, already knowing the answer, "How did they pay for it?"
I just stare at this idiot through the glass, then bow my head and put my thumb and forefinger in the corners of my tightly shut eyes and I calmly say, "Open the door."
When I get in the kiosk, I open the register and find a check the guy used to buy the cigarettes... it's for a little over $300 The name on the check? Molly Perkins. I asked the employee if he thought it was odd that a 300 pound black man would have the name "Molly Perkins." He said, "Yeah, that's kinda weird, isn't it?" I asked if he checked for ID, of course, he said no, which was a direct violation of common procedure. If it were not for the union I would have fired his ass in a heartbeat, and I yelled at him for at least 10 minute We suspended him for a day, instead. When I called the bank the next day, the checks had been reported stolen that morning.
* Bailing Cardboard Like I said above, the baler is a huge metal compactor that compresses used cardboard into a 6' X 4' X 4' cube.
When the bailer is full of cardboard, an employee must open the gate, tie wire around the giant brick, which weighs nearly 1,000 pounds, and then hook the bale to chains, which then forces the cube out onto a pallet. Once on a pallet, the cube is then loaded onto the truck and sent back to the warehouse for recycling.
Being a nice manager, I took time out of my busy schedule to teach a kid named George how to tie and process a bale. Step by step, I showed George how to empty the baler.
I was off the next day. The day after that I come in at 7am. When I get to the backroom, I discover a newly tied bale. Nothing to out of the ordinary, except that it's not sitting on a pallet.... it's on the fucking floor. The dumbass tied the bale, hooked it up to the chains, and flipped a half ton brick of cardboard onto the goddamn floor. I immediately went to the camera and watched to see what had happened. I watched dipshit George do everything I taught him, except use a pallet. As the bale flipped out onto the concrete, he just stood there looking at it trying to remember what the next step was (???? ... Profit). Just like the South Park underpants gnomes, he missed a step. Then you could see it slowly sink in that he had fucked up. He was too embarrassed to tell anyone, so he just left it there for me to find the next day.
These are just a few off the top of my head, but I dealt with extreme idiocy on a daily basis. Looking back, they were annoying at the time, but now I smile when I think of them.