Another Ex Gamestop Employee Tale of Termination Part Two
Why would you risk working with managers that never grew up, kids that think they are grown up and company policies that outline a company built on fear.
I was fired from a job where I had no write ups for job performance. While I enjoyed a reputation of above average output and accomplishments, my demise came by way of falsitudes and ineptitude. Falsitudes by envious underlings and ineptitude by a district manager that to this day can't even operate a Gamestop cash register.
Until I was fired I worked for Gamestop out of the misguided love for a company I thought appreciated what I brought to the table. The company threw away an asset.
And here is why. Mature people are of no use to Gamestop. Mature people don't waste energy getting involved in petty teenage and tweenty something angst. From co-workers sending bare chested photos in texts to under-age employees, to co-managers making racists jokes about hanging fellow co-workers in a klu-clux-clan type joke reference. You avoid these things like the plague. Oh, and that joke was said to the co-worker with 2 other employees present. Five, count five of us heard this. My reaction at the time was, "If he is letting that comment go, then maybe I'm just out-of-touch". I walked away from the conversation before it became untenable.
I was the new guy. The new guy with key-holder status, management authority but plenty to learn about the little things that make Gamestop tick.
What did I do to lose my job if I was so keen to avoiding trouble? Well as a single full time father of two, I had to explain dearly to my children that the next few months I was training for a job that would put us in a position to buy back out old home. They believed. They were proud. I on the other hand AS GOOD AS THINGS WERE, I knew in the back of my mind, any good deed can be forgotton and I kept my head low.
In life I operate keeping my opinions locked up, and cards close to my chest in regards to what I know about the world around me. This became more important to me when I quickly learned that adult logic and maturity was not evident in working at Gamestop. I look back and ask just how isolated does one have to exist in order to survive? In my first few weeks on the job, I had two concerns. One, that there is no training manual or training in specifics. Not as a manager. Consider I was hired from outside the company. I was hired without any pre-established bad habits. I was a clean slate. But this also meant I had to learn as much as a low 'Game Adviser" that worked the cash register. The Gamestop cash register has some logic and flow, but one key never had a universal meaning and that made me look bad early on. Employees wanted to find flaws in me because I was hired over no less than 6 key employees that believed THEY were next in line for a Store Manager promotion. I ignored the cute or snide remarks and figured talk behind my back would be taking place, but I didn't care. I would train, and move on to my destination. What these employees (kids) thought of me was to be ignored if I was smart. And let me warn you if you are about to start working at Gamestop... every jackass in the store will tell you THEY know how to run the store. Every employee believes they know enough to operate the store, therefore they will spew resentment behind the backs of others to give them peace throughout their day. Solution. Don't comment. Just let them show their true colors.
Along the way I trained outside of my store. I was sent to another store and felt a kinship to another manager in training. She had some more retail experience than I, so I would yield to her in any customer service situations. I expected to get "BY THE BOOK" training. With a printed manual and more. Nothing. I had to ask to have any documentation printed and it was NOT allowed outside the building. I couldn't read it on break because I wasn't getting paid. If I wasn't getting paid, I couldn't read the instructions. When could I read the learning materials? Well, I couldn't. I was needed on register or to process inventory. But this early on required a manager to do it and for me to watch.
But the manager was 'too busy'. This guy was a joke to the outside world. Everyone told me how magnificent he was. He was sent off to be a 'trainer'. But all I got was his hot shot attitude. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't arrogant, but he sure came off that way. He was too busy to understand that he needed to slow down and make time to train. Later I understood that it wasn't entirely his fault. I say this because his hubris was not only a turn off, it made him beyond learning anything himself that he didn't think he taught himself. He was the typical guy that always had to give his 2 cents, wanted or not. He was the kind of guy that if you didn't learn it the first time, your ability on a whole came into question. Basically he was out-of-touch.
Gamestop has expectations of managers. The numbers to corporate are crucial. They monitor hourly, daily, weekly and monthly statistics of everything; compounded by quotas of Powerup memberships sold, insurance plans, pre-sale orders and more, a Gamestop manager is expected to keep a lot of balls in the air. I don't want to sound old, I'm not, but there was a time when if you sold something extra to a customer (that's called a commission) you were compensated for your effort. At Gamestop, you get written up and fired if you don't meet a quota. I look back and laugh now. What's even more funny is I was glad to sell Powerups and insurance to customers because I believed in what they could do for a customer. Like I said, the company threw away an asset. I came to Gamestop with management and sales skills. All I need was operations training. Training... NON existent at Gamestop. Maybe if you are hired in a dead season but even then, X number of hours are given to a store and the hours you are on the clock are not assigned for training.
In this case, if the store manager is investing time in training me for another store, he isn't able to ensure his own stores needs are met. His bonus is upwards of $5,000 at year end and training me or anyone at the wrong time isn't just a burden, it could mean his income. To others, their jobs. For this guy, it meant coming to quick conclusions that were not spot on and many times wide of the mark. Corporate only grants X number of hours weekly and if I'm on the clock, despite my need to train, I'm better utilized getting daily tasks completed. In short, Gamestop doesn't train properly or effectively.
I finally stopped my District Manager Bryan and confronted him about this problem. He answered, "It's on the job training."
Was I mad about this? Nope. In business, you survive, thrive or die. I just had to accept how it all worked at Gamestop. From training (if I can call it that) in the training store to back at my my mall store I was constantly warned of how much pressure managers sustain. I didn't see it as pressure unless you let it get to you. Do your job well, and the pieces fall into place. I would learn it's not that simple. Customer theft and internal stealing alone would drive a manager insane. I mean it.
It's worth nothing now, my first week on the job a new game was released and 25 copies of it vanished from the back of store. In an employee area. I was off that day so it felt good to know I was not a going concern. This mystery would only be solved after I was fired. Wait until you find out who it was. In what I now see as typical Gamestop behavior, only after that theft were cameras installed in the store.
Concluding me week of training away and about to return to my mall location a fellow manager in training asked me to be nice to her younger sister about to be hired at my mall location. Turned out her younger sister is a lesbian. Another tidbit of information I kept 'to-myself' despite her claim it was no secret. I note this because it has meaning later in this story. For frame of reference, her name will be Pat. Pat is somewhat plain and mousy. I felt it important not to cross Pat because she had a sister in the company and you just never know what people are willing to say if they are cross at you, even if it's a temporary anger. You know; something said in haste.
Along the way I made friends. I thought I made friends of everyone. Even one employee whom I told my district manager showed the most disdain for my being hired became someone decent and informative towards me. He showed me math tricks in calculating numbers important to the daily books and warned me of pitfalls in routines.
Then it happened. My first mistake. I call it a mistake because I don't know what else to call it.
About a month into the job a customer comes in whom I think is a great fit for holiday help. She knows every game made on the Playstation 2 console. "We could use a good Game Advisor for Playstation 2 games I thought."
The not so obvious concern was she was curvy, with a big bosom. I mean very large breasts an youthful waistline. To top it off, she wore clothes to accent her curves. I'm not an idiot. She was clearly a girl that would draw attention. I thought no more of it after telling her she should apply to work the holiday season. The day she started was a surprise as she came up to me thanking me for recommending she look into the job.
A week later was the Call of Duty release. The mall was open after hours for the event and a line of a 1000 customers lined the inside of the mall. I was off work, on a date. We strolled by and I found that the district manager and regional manager had put her up to holding up a sign just below her breasts walking along the lines shilling our game disc warranty. Oh... and by the way, I had just that day had the sign made to hang over the doors. I paid to have it made out-of-pocket to myself. Watching her walking along the crowd, I thought, "If this isn't obvious sexploitation, what is?"
Next day I'm getting hounded by my co-workers to help them get a date with the new girl. I repeat like a drone, "Isn't dating a non-manager a fireable offense?" The answer was, "What they don't know won't hurt them." I'm quizzed and begged by multiple assistant managers to help them out.
I don't see her at work for a week. Then one of my days off she and I pass in the mall. We talk a couple minutes about her getting hired and the fact the company uses employees willfully. This subject came up due to her carrying the sign around for the Call of Duty release. I voiced my own issue when they learned I did Batman appearances for kids with an authentic Batsuit. Real leather, carbon fiber and kevlar. I was asked to wear the suit for the Batman Arkham City release. Not wanting to offend my own management with an awkward decline, I said yes to the request. Look, I don't mind doing things for kids and having fun. But this wasn't something I was happy about because I was hired to be a manager and I didn't want to screw up the level of respect that I needed to earn. Back to my conversation with the girl...
She asked to see the suit and I had one in my phone. I scrolled to it past family photos, and sport photos... one was me playing paintball with no shirt on. This was no more than in passing but she caught sight of it. Neither of us mentioned it. I thought nothing of it. You can guess where this is going.
The conversation isn't much longer. Laughing at the sillyness of Gamestop and the attention she was getting, I said to her matter-of-factly. "You know so-and-so wants me to be his wing man and get him a date with you." She answers, "I don't have a boyfriend but tell him I have one." A lighthearted laugh later, the conversation ends and we continue in our separate directions.
A week later.
I'm sensing more and more who has a problem with me being hired as a Store Manager in training. I confide in my District Manager and Human Resources. They say nothing of it.
A few days later.
A male employee forwards a complaint on behalf of the new girl that I showed her a photo of myself with my shirt off. What's more, she implies that I wanted to go out with her on a date. Moreover she felt uncomfortable of my 'advances'. I was pissed.
I deny every ounce of what was accused of me. I sat with my district manager on a bench outside our store and said to him, "I have two kids, why would I risk my job or in such an obvious way?" I should have known I was wasting my time because this DM is the same inept and lucky to have his position DM that can't use a cash register. I learned he managed a shoe store prior. That explained a lot but didn't help my situation. He was/is the typical dress to impress but no substance between the ears.
I'm not taking stabs at this guy. This is really what I was working with. He would come into the store and complain of how the store was run to the manager after the manager made the changes instructed of him. I was told stories that all the managers in the district made fun of this District Manager because he didn't know how to run the cash register. He couldn't RUN A SALE IF HE WANTED TO. And this I learned was true. Bryan would would wear gold chains and loose gawdy bracelts with starched shirts ten years out of style. He could NEVER look you in the eye as if he had some sort of people skills problem.
I say this because it's telling of why Gamestop is what it is. It's made up of people that have people skills issues mostly stemming from the gamer type mentality. This is a generalization I know, but in general ...it's accurate.
In my time at Gamestop, customers flat out loved me. Loved my attention to actual customer service and ability to hold a conversation. Both on games, and outside of gaming.
Well, in the end I was "written up" and considered guilty of the accusation. I remained pissed. Here I had a conversation with someone OFF THE CLOCK which was innocent of any bad intentions, nor should it have been interpreted as such. What was her motivation for screwing me like this? What had I done to her? Had I somehow involuntarily done all she accused me of and I refuse to accept realty? I was almost convinced I was the bad guy then...
Three days later the rumor mill began to flow. And this in itself taught me a vital truth about Gamestop. Every employee talks behind your back about the smallest of concerns in an effort to raise their own self worth.
Well, I learned the truth. Two other employees had actually done what I was accused of. One male employee, a Latino (very upset I was hired above him) about 20 years old and the assistant manager that asked me to be his wing-man had both gone into company files and got her phone number and began contacting her. They texted her. The Latino guy had a girlfriend too. Go figure. But it didn't stop him from texting the new girl a photo of himself with his shirt off. In short he sent her a Facebook style narcissistic flex pose. From what I had come to learn, I was thrown in to the mix of this mess after they got caught messing with this girl. She had entertained dialogue with these guys up to a point, revealing our chance meeting in the mall. She relayed to them I had a picture of myself with my shirt off that she had seen while I was swiping through photos in my phone's photo album. Needless to say, I decided after this incident to delete all photos from my phone of me at the beach with my kids etc... Heaven forbid my phone for any reason is comprimised while at work. Since Gamestop just started selling tablets, I bought one to show my company allegiance and was sure to leave all personal photos off it. I was careful at work to the point of hardly making and conversation with females.
As for the two guys that violated company records and policies... From what I was told the Latino boy was written and the assistant manager whom asked me to wing-man for him was verbally warned.
I thought to myself, "What a kick in the teeth. Nobody was fired for this?" I thought for sure the Latino guy would be, but even his girlfriend never caught wind of it. I took a jaded 'whatever' position after this ordeal. I refused to speak to the girl I helped get the job and eagerly waited for the Christmas season to be over so she would be let go and I didn't have to see her face again. Over the next two months when I would buy drinks for everyone on staff (juices, sodas, waters) I was sure to offer her the same courtesy. I also would bring in bags of candies during breaks etc... and she was never treated as if I held a grudge. But I sure as hell did. She'd make countless mistakes even taking in a bogus $50.00 bill one day and she never ever caught a warning, written or verbal. Once and only once did I speak to my own store manager about her hire. I asked him why and he flat out openly told me, "Look at her! Eye candy, she'll bring it in." I was okay with his answer as he is a married man and myself being smart enough to know the truth respect him for not trying to BS me. In business sex sells, I get that. I wasn't about to condemn him for trying to improve business with the tactic. But the reality is, no on in the store thought of her as any more than a bimbo. I recall in the first few days of her being employed I suggested to her that she needed to prove herself here and anywhere she goes by working hard. Once the incident took place, I looked at her as a cheap fool myself. But one that has no sense of decency and could be lethal if any mistakes where made around her. I also felt a bit of resentment for Gamestop's mid-level management for their hypocrisy They'd use her breasts to upsell the Call of Duty release while not protecting me when I was falsely accused by a kid. I thought, "They would rather protect this kid than a seasoned manager like myself?" It bothered me every time I thought of it. I can't help but wonder if I should have been a total dick and reported everyone, every time anyone stepped out of line. It's just not my way. I'd rather report someone when I know they are up to no good.
So that you don't assume I'm a total dumb ass, it was at this time I concluded that despite my love for the Gamestop product, I needed to look for another job. I told myself I had to work as hard as I could and hope what happened here was an anomaly while putting myself out there and finding something without the risk. Sadly I was right and I didn't find new work before being fired. If you think you know why, don't assume. What I've laid out has meaning but what I was fired for will make you want to punch a wall.
I'll save part three if there are requests for me to wrap this up. The reality is I don't think about this much anymore. I refuse to ever buy anything in a Gamestop again on principal. I really enjoyed the job, I liked it and was good at it. But what happened to me was wrong. Even after I was fired they denied me unemployment. I didn't make a stink over it. Again I moved on. But to buy anything from a company that treated me so foul goes against my principals. The game manufactures of the world hate Gamestop and for a reason. I don't care about their reason still, but I do hope their plans to put Gamestop out of business with downloadable content and other after the disc's initial sale features do in fact kill Gamestop. The day Gamestop is out of business, I'll smile a little smile.
Again, request part three and I'll give you some Gamestop tidbits you'll profit from.