Goofy Stuff by Vincent Cardegin
Some years before I was no longer employed at Exwork, I started referring to those in charge as MOMs, which stands for Members Of Management. I divided them into four basic categories:
L-MOMs, Lower Members Of Management, which are department heads and associates who were given authority over other associates for some project; U-MOMs, Upper Members Of Management, which are assistant and co-managers; S-MOMs, Super Members Of Management, which are store and district managers; and P-MOMs, Psycho Members Of Management, which can apply to any MOM.
Occasionally we’d have a day I called “MOMs gone wild.” During such a morning shift there seemed to be more MOMs than workers. I’d have a U-MOM frantically spotting me on the forklift while I pulled pallets of mulch from a trailer in the yard, and an L-MOM frantically spotting me on the scissor-lift while I hung signs and retrieved loose balloons from the ceiling, and even the S-MOM was on the floor frantically throwing freight. There were other U-MOMs in charge of L-MOMs who were in charge of Z-Thingies, a type of MOM that didn’t last long and for which I vaguely thought of as Q-MOMs, for Quasi, but never spoke it aloud. Us and Ls (and Qs) were in a frazzled frenzy about whatever email a HO-MOM (Home Office) had sent the S-MOM that morning.
I remember one September day it appeared that every MOM from every shift was there to help with “slopping the mods,” (a phrase coined by my brother, Night Stocker, that referred to customers who rooted through the new products on hooks and shelves like hogs at a trough). This was during Halloween mods, so I called it “slopping the ween.” From my busy perspective, we were chugging along at full steam, except when the boilers were shut down for customer service, and that happens in a retail store. Still, we were making phenomenal headway, emptying boxes to stock the shelves, but someone above us thought we were goofing off and got headstrong nasty about it. There was yelling and even tears of anger. I rolled a dumpster of cardboard to the back to empty it in the bailer, returned it to the Seasonal Block, and snuck to Garden to hang the new long-handled tools on the patio, which had been sitting there in boxes on a pallet for nearly a week. The wild bunch never knew I was gone.
But eventually, some of the MOMs started acting like mothers. They’d say things like, “Where’s your brother? What’s your brother doing? Go find your brother,” when referring to a fellow associate on the clock, and “I want you and your brother from another mother to do this instead,” usually cannon balls instead of watering the withering plants on the patio, just to let us know who was in charge, as though we were little kids that had to be watched at all times, instead of experienced workers who knew all the ropes.
I didn’t like that, so I went back to calling them Depheads (department heads) and Ass-Mags (assistant managers) and Co-Mags and Mags, but I kept the psycho tag in the form of Pee-Mags. I derived “Mag” from Magistrate, which is the same thing as a manager. But if someone asked me what Co-Mag meant, I’d tell them it was short for Cro-Magnon.
I must mention one U-MOM, an Ass-Mag who had been a Dephead years ago in Garden, who never seemed flustered by upper management’s confusions. I called him Hardyboy (and therefore I named his girlfriend Nancy Drew). Hardyboy knew what had to be done, and directed us to do exactly that. Somehow he placated those above him with reasonable alternatives, and calmed those below him, including customers, with cajoling solutions. I wish upon all big stores more Hardyboys.
P.S. Midway through my last year at Exwork, a Co-Mag asked me if I wanted to be a member of management. I told him sure, as long I never had to deal with the whining of shoppers and workers. I had many times observed such torture inflicted on MOMs from the top on down, and I’ve been there before, and I would never again tolerate such interferences to work. Oh, I pray good will to all who can endure that responsibility, but if I were in charge at Exwork, I’d answer every complaint with “Let me change your diaper and get you a baba,” and then I’d simply show them the back of my vest (I designed a fantasy vest) and walk away. I did not get the position, thank you.