Sunday, March 1, 2009

Le domicile du Pressing: the diary

Such excitement. All are waiting with bated breath to hear what it was like to feel "the wrath of Sarah." I made a few major mistakes in one day, and they have warned me that my time will come. They have warned me to brace myself for that phone call.

The call came, and Sarah was quite pleasant. "That mistake is so easy to make, just be more careful," etc. Certainly. And as for the instructions on how to deal with high-fashion, expensive garments, well, simply hit the double-charge, High Fashion button on the computer screen, "and walk away. If they can afford $1500 St. John knits, they can afford the dry cleaning upcharge."

Certainly. Only as soon as I got off the phone with Sarah -- who signs the paychecks, let us not forget -- and answered Jorie's eager questions about the conversation, Jorie opened her large round pretty brown eyes and said, "Oh my God, don't ever do that. Sarah doesn't know what we do here. We never double charge customers for that. Just have them sign a release and treat the stuff like everything else. They don't want to pay that kind of money."

Really. "Oh yes. And if you do what she says, the next day you'll get a phone call screaming at you for that. That happened to me once."

Well. What a minefield. Shall I call Sarah again and tell her 'your employees here say you don't know what you're doing'? And then yesterday, another angry customer on the phone. "You never do a good job with our things. I come in and I joke about it with Marge and Joann. We get along great, but it's a joke. We all say, well, what special requests have been ignored now, and what designer clothes have they ruined now?" I called Sarah to tell her of the dissatisfied customer, but left out the details about how the employees joke with the customers about what a lousy operation the entire business is.

These women, I begin to think, have created their own little world here, and it's quite pleasant for them and especially for the favored customers who like to come in and visit and talk with Marge and Joann about their health problems. My position is peculiar as newcomer, as incognita potential manager, and as recent trainee fresh from the plant, where everything is done by the book and video cameras carry pictures and sound from the front desk area back to Sarah's office. No kidding. She makes it her business, literally, to hear and see everything.

She is the center of these women's world, even in a separate physical building miles away, without video cameras. Everybody was agog, half the week, to know what Sarah said to Nancy about those two Major Mistakes. It so happened that only Jorie was present when I received the phone call, and I never brought up the subject with any of the others. But they all knew it was coming. Marge forewarned me, in fact explaining all one afternoon as soon as I arrived and saying, purring, "Oh my God, get ready, this is like the worst thing you can do. I'm surprised she hasn't called already. Maybe she isn't there."

And they'll hear the details tomorrow, from another source. Pam asked me frankly about it yesterday. "Oh, it was fine," I answered, truthfully. "She just said it was an easy mistake to make, and to be more careful next time." Pam looked at me. "Oh, that's interesting," she said. "I'm sure it's because it was your first time." Yes, it probably was. And Joann was present to hear this brief little explanation. So tomorrow, Marge will hear about it. And the salivating and backbiting and eyerolling will continue, and the instructions "never" to do what Sarah says, because she thinks she knows what goes on, but she really doesn't.

Yes. Beware.

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