I can finally tell this story!
Last year, after a scare that my undergrad school, William Tyndale College in Farmington Hills, Michigan, would close, I discovered that I could finish my degree with three classes that I needed. They were all on a Monday and they were all three-hour classes back to back to back. That would be nine hours straight of classes on a Monday. It was a tough order but I knew I could do it. At the time, I worked at a credit union Monday through Friday during the day. I approached them with my opportunity and, to make a long story short, they were unable to grant me a half a day off during the week for a few months in order for me to finish my degree. After much thought and prayer, I decided that my best bet would be to search for a job in retail since they would offer the most flexible schedule. After submitting my resume in several places, I got a call from Target. After several interviews, I was offered a position making $2 more on the hour with a schedule that would allow me to finish school and at a store that was only ten minutes from my home in comparison to a 45 minute drive with the credit union. I thought it was a no-brainer and I accepted the position readily.
My official title was “Housewares and Domestics Team Leader.” There was Lie #1. I never had a team and I never lead anything. I was told that I would be running the housewares and domestics department like a small store. I would be responsible for almost all aspects of the departments. Lie #2: Although I was “responsible” for those departments, I had very little control over anything that occurred . Most of the time, I worked in other areas of the store that were not even part of my job description, all under the guise of “teamwork.” When I finally questioned what was going on, I was chastised like a child. The ETL (Executive Team Leader) of Team Relations, which is a fancy term for a Human Resources Supervisor denied she ever told me that job description which was yet another lie. However, I hung in there and the job allowed me to finish my schooling and graduate this past January with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Thought. It turns out that I had made a correct decision to do what I did because that semester was the last semester that Tyndale remained open and I was part of very last graduating class. At the time of my graduation, I had just made the decision for sure that I wanted to pursue a Masters Degree and it took a few months for me to settle on Ashland. During this time, I struggled in my position because it was not what I had signed for. Although I had very little control over what happened in the department, I was always given the blame for anything that went wrong.
My biggest pick with Target was always payroll. Target stores are categorized from A-D with A being the highest volume store and D being the lowest. The Monroe, Michigan store that I was employed at was categorized as a D store, ultra-low volume, and Target does not even open up D stores any more. Apparently, whatever formula that was used for payroll to tally up the number of hours needed always left us short-handed. So basically, I was given responsibilities to do in the store that were never part of my original job description, required to carry out those responsibilities and to be held accountable for them while also being held responsible and accountable to the departmental needs of my own departments. I was rarely given time to work on my own departments and I was never, and I do mean never, given team members to help me with those responsibilities. Even though I was a “Team Leader,” I never had one person that answered directly to me. In other words, I never had a team. Most days, particularly during the week, there were no sales floor team members on the sales floor, only team leaders. Many, many chiefs, but never enough Indians. And there was never, ever enough people to get the store where it needed to be.
Now, on March 12th, I was involved in a very serious car accident in which I broke my ankle and I had to take a six-week leave of absence. Just a couple of weeks before, I decided to quit fighting the system. If Target wanted me to be a “yes man” in order to keep my job then I would do just that. Everyday that I went in, I went straight to the LOD (Leader on Duty) and asked them what they wanted me to do. I was always given a list of things and I always did them all. Just two or three days before the accident, I was called into the office by the STL (Store Team Leader) and was praised for my new attitude and performance. As I left the meeting, I remember thinking how ironic and stupid this situation was. Three days later, I was in the accident and six weeks later, I was back to work. Three days after I returned, I was written up for poor job performance. My first question was, “How could I be written up for poor job performance when I wasn’t even here to perform?” The answer: “Well, this was going to happen before the accident, but we did not get to it in time.” My next question: “Why was I called into the office just three days before the accident and praised for my new attitude and performance?” The answer: “Well, those were dealing with certain issues that you had shown improvement in and not all of them.” In a nutshell, I had failed to meet Target’s expectations even though I was told that I was.
At that moment, I decided that I would not go quietly and I certainly did not. I stood up for myself and my performance every chance I could. I did my job the way that it should have been done and not always the way Target wanted me to. I did all of this while still trying to appease everyone that I could. But I was never silent on things I saw that should have improved and I beat that drum until I left.
Now, when I left the credit union, the team was very gracious and chipped in and bought a card and movie tickets for me and my wife. It was a small gesture, but certainly a very much appreciated one. But yesterday, I only had one Senior Team Leader wish me good luck. My own boss never even told me goodbye. And when I finished the project that I was on fifteen minutes before the end of my shift and asked the LOD what I was supposed to do, I was told, and I quote, “Well we’re sure as hell not going to pay for you sit around. Clock out and go home.” My response: “Well goodbye to you, too Melissa.” Yes, her name was Melissa and she is the only Senior Team Leader on the sales floor. She works over in softlines in the Monroe, Michigan store. If you’d like, be sure to look her up and tell her how I feel. Believe me, my response was much more reserved than what I wanted to say. My wife even commented that it surprised her that it didn’t say more. I clocked out and went home and nobody even noticed.
Needless to say, I won’t be shopping at Target unless I have to. From now on, I’m a Walmart man.