Below are pieces of text written by me for various outlets. One is from an unpublished memoir, and the other are articles written for LinkedIn.
Chapter 1 Sample
Chapter 1 Sample
“One hundred. Two hundred. Two-fifty. Thank you for your patience, Mrs. Kyle. I apologize for the delay in getting your washer and dryer delivered. If you have any other questions, give me a call personally. My number is on the receipt.”
It was an extremely colorful day. The sky was bright blue, the grass was green, and the words coming out of these customers’ mouths were as dirty as the local golden arches. The day was almost over, about 9:52 pm and only half the store has even attempted to start closing up their department. Looking at my cell phone, a message appears; “How are the numbers?”
A typical day isn’t very typical at all. Working in retail isn’t anything of a normal job. From demanding customers to overly demanding higher management. From not so flexible hours to taking the heat from a customer for the company ‘screwing them over’; nothing from my abnormal working weeks were typical. However, what was typical, the sigh I would relieve while looking at my phone and seeing the time inch closer to closing.
It was apparent my day wasn’t over just yet. It was the 5-minute countdown until doors would officially close. Storming through the TV department, I listen to a young lady, maybe 23 or 24, smooth voice, sounding calm but noticeably frustrated, saying something through our walkie-talkie. The Company had adopted an ingenious idea of giving all our stores walkie-talkies with earpieces to communicate. This was instituted so there weren’t any disrupting customer interactions throughout the stores via its older telecom system, which could be heard by everyone through the in-wall speakers around the stores. You know, the ones you hear shouting “Clean up in isle 4”, in a condescending old lady voice. A lot of retail companies used this practice of walkie-talkies and our Company was just another stat for the walkie-talkie manufacturing plant.
“Jason, this customer wants to talk to you.” Looking at my cell phone again, it’s 1 minute until closing and I have to deal with a customer who probably needs to vent their anger about the Company. Asking what the matter was over the walkie, I can sense that this wasn’t going to be an easygoing night. “She wants to return a laptop and doesn’t want to pay the restocking fee.” Disgusted at the visual sight I imagined, I hear once more over the walkie, “I told her she has to, and she’s getting pissed and asked for the manager.” Great. I love those lines. It’s the lines every manager wants to hear. If you haven’t heard those lines, you didn’t work in retail. “… Wants a refund …” and “… asked for the manager …”.
I’m about 100 feet diagonal from customer service, standing in the television department. The customer is irate. I look back at my phone, 10:01 pm, ugh, I need this day to end, and the only way to do that is to see this customer. At every step I make, I feel like I’m warping into slow motion. Each step taking a minute to complete the stride, hundreds of thoughts rushing through my head – none of which pertained to this situation at hand. I can’t forget to put that cheap laptop aside for a customer for tomorrow morning. Did I lock the trash compactor in the warehouse? Who was the one who called out for tomorrow afternoon’s shift? None had anything to do with the apparent customer I am about to hear from. It would be a simple, routine visit to the customer. I say hi, offer my apologies, explain the policies we have to enforce and listen to the customer bitch for a few minutes. All the while, explaining the policies again and handing them a card that has the corporate number on it to call in the morning. Sometimes it’s easy; customers can be deceived very easily if worded correctly. Sometimes it’s extremely frustrating, unfortunately, however, never when it’s convenient for me. Walking up with a smile, the angered customer doesn’t give a smile back, instead, shoves me a receipt demanding I give her back the money she paid for the laptop. The laptop is a pretty decent model, good specifications, and great price; overall it was a good buy for anyone starting out or needed a second computer. Before looking at it extensively, I ask why she was returning the laptop. Maybe there was a defection? Could it be there was a problem with the laptop out of the box? I thought out a few good possibilities as to why she was returning the gorgeous looking computer with a very sturdy case and sleek special edition style that came with a three-year warranty. No, it wasn’t defective. “I was told it had the Internet on it and it isn’t on there!” She proclaimed. This woman was around 6’5, 270-280 pounds. She was one tough momma. If I was anywhere but confined in a spaced filled with active cameras, I probably would be on the ground – either dead or begging for mercy. I knew that if I gave her the answer she didn’t want to hear, I wouldn’t be closing the store anytime soon.
20 years of IT experience, and 5+ years of retail experience; add in a degree in web design, and multiple specialty areas in CE and IT, I wake up confident every morning with a pretty good understanding of what is on computers nowadays. I’m sure there was a misunderstanding. Either that or the customer is just plain stupid and is extremely dumb when it comes to computers. I like to think compassionately and provide the best belief in my customers, so it could have been a misunderstanding for sure. To answer her idiotic statement on not having the Internet on the computer could easily be assisted in under a minute to any normal human being. Explaining, “where the internet is” to this lady could take more than I want to give, however. “Every computer comes with a wireless card so you can get the Internet anywhere there is an access point or hot spot. You just need to find a place that has access currently.” It was a simple answer. Nothing more and nothing less of an answer I knew was the correct one. She fired back, “I was told I can get the Internet anywhere. And that is what I expect. So either you give me the Internet anywhere, or I want my money back!” It’s hard to explain to someone, especially ones who doesn’t want to listen to you, how wireless Internet works, but I knew it wasn’t any use trying.
I immediately tried to assess for any damage. She looks at me, with her face molding into a picture like a parent finding out their child is smoking crack for the first time. “What are you doing? I want my money back!” I tried to explain that I needed to look over the laptop before I make any returns. But as soon as the words were coming out of my mouth, she insisted I get my manager. Ah, the comical I want to see your manager line. I am the only one here I exclaimed, and I am the manager. As if I was lying to keep my “bully-type attitude” here and to no one else, she insists I get my manager. I ignored her requests. I deemed the computer in returnable condition, not a button or inch of the screen was smeared with fingerprint grease. I looked at the time again, 10:12 pm.
I realized this wasn’t the time to make an issue, so I chose to surrender and allow the return. However not looking at the receipt beforehand, provided with a much bigger issue currently. The first problem was the laptop being purchased at another store. It was purchased in a store a little over 15 miles away. This would mean, we didn’t provide the customer with the wrong information, nor misinformed her. She was told she would be able to get the Internet, presumably to research sumo wrestling or something similar, and she would be happy from day one. Unfortunately, I had no control over what another associate from another store had mentioned to her. Maybe they were also terrified by her attitude. Maybe she had this vision of the wonder laptop that did whatever she commanded. The latter wouldn’t surprise me. Either way, I couldn’t just say it wasn’t our fault, but the words that came out of my mouth did it for me. “You mean to tell me you won’t make the return because I purchased it at another store? Don’t you all work the same way?” I couldn’t defend that point. We have over six hundred stores nationwide and some now being opened internationally. We all use the same systems and have the same control over sales and returns. She made sense, obvious sense, and I knew she was going to go that route. I tried to defend my point, “The fact is, my store didn’t make any wrong statement to you regarding your purchase. In fact, none of my associates other than customer service has ever said a word to you. I don’t blame you for your worries, but if there was a problem, I would think you would want to talk to the actual people you spoke to.” I let out a small breath of air, knowing I was right, and while she may have been right as well, it wasn’t right for her to accuse us of making her experience horrible, to begin with.
She had a friend. The friend didn’t like my apparent attitude so she reached in her bag for something. I was hoping it would be a 9-caliber pistol since that could have been easier to deal with than the current situation. No, it was a cookie cutter shaped Company logo business card almost every associate had specially made for them. It had a fellow’s name on it. “Give him a call,” the friend mentions in a light, soothing voice. Her friend, about 5’8, 200 lbs, was built by God with pure muscle. I can tell both of these ladies weren’t the ones you wanted to deal with on a Friday night while winning at billiards.
“I can’t give them a call”, I said while looking directly at the friend’s huge tattoo of a purple butterfly on her left shoulder. “The store has already closed, and so have we.” Frustrated and determined, there was no sign of her letting up. I noticed her name on the receipt, which is printed when a loyalty card member uses to make a purchase. The big momma, named “Tamina”, says all she wants is just a refund. “Alright, ” I say, trying to calm down. “However I can’t and won’t refund 15% for the restocking fee”. Her eyes opened wide, and her friends’ even wider. It was like the Chicago Cubs actually won the World Series. She wasn’t confused, just shocked I had told her flat out no that I wouldn’t be giving her the entire $950 + tax back. After 5 minutes of going back and forth, she knew she wasn’t winning any longer and had already made the decision to complain to someone other than me. I thought maybe she wouldn’t actually be good at billiards or poker after all. She finally agreed to the refund minus the 15% restocking fee. But then I had looked at the receipt for a final time.
Stories usually end up working out similarly. An issue arises, the manager is called, we try to calm the situation, a situation is compromised, then a bigger issue punches you in the face when you think you have all in order. This one was sure to please. “You will be receiving a check in your mail in the next 4-6 weeks.” I began to think I was in a cartoon because I’ve never actually seen smoke come out of anyone’s ears before. The young customer service rep and also a computer technician heard my statement and both bolted at least 30 feet from where the customer and I were. They knew Tamina was going to explode. “Why in the hell would you not put the money back where I originally paid!” To answer this question, I only directed her to the return policy board, which was about 6 feet by 6 feet large behind the customer service counter. It was a routine issue with almost 10 customers a day. Retail loves to screw a customer, but legally. In this case, it was a legit policy, and we weren’t screwing the customer.
The Company has a policy that paying for anything via debit card will be refunded back to the debit card or a gift card. However, that only applies to purchases under $250. Unfortunately, Tamina didn’t read the back of the receipt, interestingly, a recurring theme with customers and the controversial tricky schemes of retailers. “No one told me that! What am I supposed to do now?” I defended my employer and stuck to the policies that were on the board. I never really understood some of the policies on the board, and a few were down right outrageous, but it’s my job to stick by them, no matter what it took.
She stuttered for a few minutes, knowing there was no use yelling to just a messenger, even if I was the manager. After many precious minutes, and many angry words later, some darker than shooting a video with the cap still on, she decided to finally give up. “Just give me back my laptop and I will call your owner tomorrow.” I wanted to laugh, but I just stared. You will be making a lot of phone calls, I thought to myself. We were a public company, with many, many owners. In fact, with every shareholder in the company, you would probably end up in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most minutes used on a cell phone. “You’ll be hearing from my lawyer and the media on this one. “ She then fired another bullet, “I will make sure you are fired for this!” I wished for the real 9-caliber bullet though. It isn’t rare I get those comments. They don’t hurt my feelings and certainly don’t make me fear my job or the customers. I stick to my company, in return, hoping they return the favor one day for me. Unfortunately, the theory took 6 years to realize that favors are never returned.
After she left, I turned to my phone, 10:30 PM and the store was still a mess. While watching her leave, I turn around, looking straight at the receipt Tamina had left behind her on the counter. I knew this night wasn’t going to turn out the way I planned. But then again, in retail, it never does.
I asked for 5 minutes, was given the best advice ever.
I can't say enough about how grateful I am for the people I interact with each and every day. Not just the people I work with and for, but those I say hi to, the ones who ask for advice, and those who spend just a few minutes every so often to just talk business.
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There is nothing like a well-oiled resume. Highlighted with years of experience, skills, and education, your resume can describe more about you than what words are written.
But it's 2016, and it's time for a change in perception. The resume is like your self-portrait. Its' painting is marvelous and detailed, yet presented in such a small frame. Your painting highlights all the spectacular intricacies, yet hides the smallest defects.
In 2016, could your resume be ready for an inspiring change? Can you stand out and creatively present your self-image? Let's visit 3 unique alternatives to the traditional resume.
The Infographic Portfolio
Creative jobs require creative presentations. But this requirement shouldn't be limited to specific careers. Presenting yourself in a unique way can be telling in a leadership role or a more competitive environment.
The infographic portfolio is filled with stats, intricate details, gratifying creative juices that showcase how much you want that job.
The Media Copy
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A resume resembling the specific media company can tell your potential employer that you know their brand, their product, and what kind of creativity you have matching the brand's interests.
The unique magazine cover, video commercial, newspaper advertisement, all of these are essential for an artist's portfolio if you were applying for a creative job. However, even if you show your creative side for a leadership career with the company, you can tell a much larger story of your passion for the company you want to work for.
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In all resumes, it's about highlighting your strengths and skills. In many cases, you will still need a word documented traditional resume, especially for those employers who use computer software to pick out keywords. But if you can present both styles of resumes, that showcase your experience and creative side, you might have that "leg-up" on the competition.
Do you have a creative resume you'd like to share? In what ways have you presented your unique talents? If you are in HR or a recruiter, what do these creative resumes mean to you? Share your comments below.
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