Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Here's What Managers Shouldn't Do

DISCLAIMER: This post is not a reflection of my current employer. Please don't fire me.

My normal routine, every day before work, is to visit a TD bank to deposit the pathetic amount of cash earnings I made from the previous evening. Like clockwork, I get off the Q train and walk to the same location before I get my coffee. I enter the bank, grab the deposit slip, count the sad, wispy stack of singles and fives that I had to beg and plead and break my ass for, and make my way to the line to turn my hard-earned cash into slightly-larger numbers on my TD Bank iPhone app. The larger numbers help me buy cool things, like electricity and less credit card debt.

Every day, I greet Emily, my favorite teller. She's not the one I blew it with, no. Emily is happily married with three children. Two boys, one girl. The oldest boy just started high school this week. I know this because we speak nearly every day. She asks about the hotel,  how my blog is doing, how filming went, breaks my balls about turning thirty, yet never reveals her age to me. Not that I ever wanted to know. She makes it part of the conversation, trying to get me to guess how old she is, knowing that I'm too much of a gentleman to ask.

It's all in good fun. I've been going to Emily for years. We have a rapport, a joking manner. She's a calming, welcoming presence in an otherwise mundane part of my every-day routine. And when it's not Emily? It's George - the pudgy, androgynous man who got laid off from Time Warner two years ago. Or Eric - the guy who always seems to catch me on days where I make a huge deposit due to my not getting to the bank in some time, who sees the quick cash I make and not-so-subtly asks if we're hiring.

Point is, I go to that bank nearly five days a week, and the service is stellar. I like everyone there, which is why I keep coming back. I could throw a rock and pick another one of the five or six in the area to go to, but why tamper with what works?

Cut to this Tuesday morning, where I got tied up doing, well, whatever the fuck it is I do from the time I wake up till the time I leave for work. Trains and bullshit left me off at my stop later than usual, and I rushed into the bank to do my transaction and get the hell out of here.

Maybe it was the time of day where this happens, something I'm not privy to because I generally get there a few minutes earlier. But there was a manager in the lobby, greeting people. Now, I'm all for someone saying "hello" when you walk into any place. Hell, that's 90% of my job description (Though I'm lucky if I fulfill 5% of that, per day).

This manager, I'll call him "Bill", appeared to be taking his daily round of entering the lobby, puffing out his chest and pivoting in the center, making his presence known to his employees and customers, unzipping his trousers, and taking his dick out.

No, he didn't expose himself in the lobby. That last part was figurative. I'm a goofball.

Whatever Bill's intention was - whether he wanted to be helpful and present with the everyday customers, or simply to come in and keep his already-stellar employees in check, or maybe he just got chewed out by his boss, or wife, and wanted to come and do a little micro-managing - he completely ruined this small, enjoyable window in my day:

I walk in, and the first thing I hear is his bellowing, phony, how-may-I-help-you voice:

Bill - "WELCOME TO TD BANK!!! HOW MAY WE ASSIST YOU TODAY?!?"

Startled, I can barely muster the head nod I gave him. I'm a creature of habit, and my habit, every day, for the past 3 years, has been to walk straight to the deposit slips. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see him swaying back and forth, doing an over-eager pee pee dance in anticipation of how he can assist me today. He's tall, red-faced and likely wearing a toupee. His beady eyes dart around behind his tarantula-colored glasses. It was like Barney the Dinosaur had witnessed a murder and took this job as part of a protection program.

I pull the earbuds out of my head and do my normal walk to the deposit slips. He walks over to me. My body tightens up and I grind my teeth.

Bill - "WHAT DID YOU NEED HELP WITH TODAY, SIR?!?!"

I grab the checking deposit slip and start writing, as if I were trying to get my house keys out of my pocket and a swarm of zombies were coming at me.

Doorman - "Just making a deposit."

Bill - "CHECKING OR SAVINGS?!?!"

I had a fucking checking deposit slip in my hand. They're color-coded. He sees this.

Doorman - "Just... checking."

I open my wallet and take out my sad, crumbled-up stack of fives and singles.

Bill - "WILL YOU BE DEPOSITING CASH OR A CHECK?!?!"

I show him my weathered assembly of pity currency from tourists.

Doorman - "Cash."

Bill - "EXCELLENT!!!"

He extends his arm and pans it to the right, like some ugly game show model, to present me a line of two people.

Bill - "JUST WAIT RIGHT THERE, SIR!!! SOMEONE WILL BE RIGHT WITH YOU!!!"

Thank you, Bill. Had you not been there, I would have walked over to the Penny Arcade machine and tried to stuff all of my money in there. If that didn't work, I would have asked Penny why she didn't want to take my money. Then she would have asked me for coins, and I would have been like, "I don't have coins! All I have are these sad fives and ones. THERE ARE NO COINS!!!" Then I would have punched the Penny Arcade, likely smashing the screen. Then the on-site cop would have run over and arrested me, putting me in jail for the night, which would likely lead to me being beaten up by some of the Times Square CD Hustlers that I clash with while I'm in uniform. But I'm not in uniform in the joint, AM I?!? THANK YOU, BILL!!! YOU SAVED ME FROM GETTING BEAT UP BY TIMES SQUARE CD HUSTLERS IN THE JOINT!!

I take my spot on line, like I've done every time there's been a line in the thirty years of life that have led me to this moment.

Thirty seconds later:

The line hasn't moved. I haven't noticed because I'm hate-reading Facebook statuses. I stay friends with a lot of people whom I barely know or haven't spoken to in years, solely for the purpose of reading their idiotic Facebook posts. It's not a healthy task, but fuck you if you can't admit that you do the same thing.

Bill - "SOMEONE WILL BE RIGHT WITH YOU, SIR."

Yes, Bill. I understand how the line works. You wait till there's an available teller. Some people have more transactions than others, which will sometimes slow down the line.

Thirty seconds later:

Bill - "THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE. IT WILL BE JUST A FEW MORE MOMENTS!!!"

A teller finishes with her customer. Immediately after, another teller finishes with hers. I'm next.

Bill - "JUST A FEW MORE MOMENTS AND SOMEONE WILL BE RIGHT WITH YOU, SIR!!!"

Right, Bill. I figured that out when there were no more people huffing and puffing in front of me.

Thirty seconds later:

Emily, my favorite teller, finishes with her customer and waves me over.

Bill - "THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE, SIR!!! EMILY HERE WILL ASSIST YOU!!!"

Emily and I share an immediate glance. I widen my eyes and make a gesture towards Bill. She shuts her eyes and nods, "yah, I know".

She's shorter with me than usual. More robotic. I can tell she's putting on a show for her manager. Instead of relaxing and talking casually, as we've done nearly every day for three years, she has to be stiff and "professional". She has to read from the script. At the end of the transaction, she asks if I want a balance on the checking account. I say, "yes, please." Then, from behind me:

Bill - "CAN YOU CONFIRM YOUR DATE OF BIRTH, SIR?!?"

Confused, I turn my head to him. He's creeped about ten feet over to me since the last time I saw him, like a ninja. I look back to Emily, who's flushed and annoyed. She talks through her teeth.

Emily - "I'm sorry, can you please verify your date of birth, sir?"

She's been calling me by my name for as long as I've known her.

I know the drill. If I want the balance on my checking account, I need to confirm that it's me making the transaction. But I've been going to Emily for years. She wishes me happy birthday the week leading up, and the week following my big day, every year. This year, in particular, she referred to me as "dirty thirty" for the entire month of July. The woman knows my fucking birthday. 

Doorman - "Sure - July 27th, 1984."

BILL - "THANK YOU, SIR!!! EMILY, ALWAYS BE SURE TO VERIFY THE DATE OF BIRTH!!!"

What a cock sucker.

I say goodbye to Emily and begin stuffing my earbuds back into my head.

BILL - "HAVE A GREAT DAY, SIR AND THANK YOU FOR USING TD BANK!!!"

I don't acknowledge him.

Now here's a classic example of a manger having zero clue about how his establishment works. I've been working in hotels for a long time. I've seen a many of lobbies run by idiots like this, who sit in their offices all day, who feel the need to come downstairs once every eight hours, to show the employees "how it's done", and come off as a complete douche bag. They're always the onse who didn't work the way up the ranks - do years on the floor, working with the guests and understanding how the machine is run, then apply it to their supervisor position when they've earned their spot. No, these are the people who got the office job right out of school, earned some bullshit hospitality degree and landed a managerial position.

(Again, I'm not slamming anyone at my current establishment. I'm referring to the many, many hotels I've worked in before this one. Something in Bill sparked something in me from the many, many hotels I've worked in before this one. I respect you all, very much. Please don't fire me.)

Another perfect example - I was working at a smoke-free property. One where you couldn't smoke more than thirty feet from the door. I had made friends with this guy from Boston. He'd given me a twenty on the way in, and we became fast friends. Turned out he was a valet attendant while he worked his way through his undergrad, and now he's a lawyer.

On his last day here, after exchanging countless war stories about the job and the shit we've seen, he came outside with a cigarette, unlit, hanging out of his mouth. Before he could light it, we got to talking again.

No more than thirty seconds into our conversation, my manger comes out, interrupting me mid-sentence:

Manager - "You know this is a non-smoking area, right?"

He turns to my guest.

Manager - "Sir, there are designated smoking areas located on the other side of the building."

The guest obliges, shaking his head and lighting his cigarette as he walks away. The Manager when on to show me, in front of a bunch of people, how to open the door properly. Because apparently I hadn't been opening the door properly.

Here I was, establishing a friendly rapport with a guest, who had some money to throw around, who the hotel would want to see come back, and it was just ruined by some dude who wanted to swing his dick around the lobby on his way out.

Am I saying managers shouldn't be involved in the day-to-day functions? No, of course not. What I'm saying is managers should let their good, sociable employees do whatever it is they do to keep the customers coming back. Showing up an employee in front of a guest is never the answer. Ever.

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