Thursday, January 31, 2013

What’s A Little Hypothermia If I Can Save Eight Dollars?

Today, a mini-story that shows the mindset I have about retail employment and how I want to save you the same erroneous train-of-thought.
I’ve been employed at my current job for over five years now and each winter, it is almost assured that the store will only be about ten degrees warmer than what it is outside.  Since I live in an area where winters can get pretty damn cold, that is not a good thing.
There are a number of reasons why this might occur, but the simplest one is because of the giant sliding doors that never seem to remain shut.  With each customer that comes stumbling through our front doors – braving howling winds, torrential downpours, or blinding snowfalls for a TV on sale for 10% – allows all the accumulated heat to be zapped from the air.
Another common reason why the temperatures indoors are so wacky is the fact that the thermostat isn’t accurately adjusted from day-to-day.  If there’s an unusually cold spring day, the A/C might still be on, and there’s not much the store workers can do about it.  By the time anything is fixed and you notice the difference, most of the day is already done with.  The reverse is true in the winter.  A working A/C and heating unit is almost useless in a large retail building that is as open as most electronics stores.
This, finally, gets to my mini-story.  Each year, most employees, knowing how cold the store can be during winter, start to wear long-sleeved undershirts below their work uniforms.  Smart, huh?  Yeah, I thought so, too.
However, the first year I worked at my job, I had only short-sleeved shirts.  Outside of work I never really needed long-sleeved undershirts.  I mean, if I was cold outside of work, I always had hoodies or jackets or I just wrapped myself up in blankets.  The first time I experienced how cold it could get in my store during the winter, I suppose I should’ve gone right out and purchased a pack of undershirts.  Ah, but that’s when my superior intellect kicked in.
I started thinking to myself, “Hey, you don’t plan on working here for more than a year.  Why waste your money on shirts you’ll never wear again?  Just tough it out!  It’s not that bad, after all.”
That’s how I spent my first winter there.
Then there was a second.
Then a third.
Then a fourth.
And so on and so on.
You would think that by the second year, I would have just decided to say, “fuck it!” and by myself a pack of long-sleeved shirts.  Well, let me tell you, my friend, you are completely mistaken.
Each year I kept thinking, “Well, this is my last year here.  I’m definitely not working here for another year.  I made it this far, after all, I might as well just stick it out until warm weather returns.”
So, yes, super genius that I am, I have been freezing myself out on an annual basis on the misguided and self-delusional belief that I’ll finally be out of my job.  I guess the moral of this story is, if keeping yourself warm or dry or safe is ever a matter of a few dollars – even if you think you’re not going to be there for very long – just spend the damn money.  Or risk being as foolish as a man who decides to freeze himself to death for a one-year-only job that turns into a 5-year-plus job.  Just a little piece of free advice.
More soon from the frontlines...