It’s been a while but today I’ve set aside some much needed time to compose an entry here at ‘The Valente Journal’. Just to get most of you up to date, I lost my full-time job late March 2011(last month), due to horribly unjust measures taken by my former employer. I can’t speak of the company publicly or the details due to the fact I am currently involved in a legal dispute against them. I’m taking them to task through what’s left of our legal justice system. Thus far, I can assure you that what they orchestrated was very unethical and I refuse to accept what they’ve done. Setting that aside for the time being, rather than sit around attempting to file for unemployment or mope about what happened, I decided to hit the pavement hard and was hired to a new job within my local mall part-time in a matter of 3-4 days. That was definitely a nice momentum boost until I’m able to land a new full-time gig. However, unfortunately it seems that while working my shift, I was unceremoniously booted from the mall Tuesday evening, 4/12/11. Oh, the incident was so bad it has me wondering if tyranny has crept into the private sector just as much as it has the public sector. Has it always been there as a silent sleeper?
Grab your popcorn and beverages, because the story you’re about to read is one heck of a drama. So I started my shift at 1 PM Tuesday 4/12/11. I currently work at a kiosk with a team of others. Part of my job is to generate sales by simply greeting passersby and grabbing their attention in a creative, tasteful fashion. Personally, my method is to greet as many as possible within the confines of the kiosk by a simple greeting of “hello” or “good afternoon”, and etc. I have a very low key approach and if I happen to grasp their attention, I’ll give them a brief sentence or two in regard to the health products’ best benefits. If they actually stop to speak with me further, I’ll take it from there and hope that it will lead to a sale if not that day, some other day. Upon hire, I was told by the district manager that we are not allowed to block a customers’ passage or physically grab them to show them how the products work. He told me that mall management considers this “hawking a customer.” As far as I’m concerned, those rules are very reasonable in life in general, so no problem complying there at all.
During this particular shift, I was doing quite well. 3-4 shifts prior, my sales were in a huge slump. You could blame it on the numbers game, the fact that I temporarily veered off my more mellow approach for a short while, or any other random factors. The point is, on this day, I went back to my original formula because it works for me and I think the customers feel more comfortable and inclined to stay for a brief description and demonstration of our products. So time progresses forward and it’s about 5:30 pm. I’m just $75 shy of meeting my daily goal. Not bad at all! I’m in a very pleasant mood and hoping for the best. I greeted a couple walking by saying “Good evening. Have you heard about us?” I then turn to my left and see a customer approaching the other side of our kiosk and simply say “Good evening. Would you like to try out the demo?” Less than a second later, I was getting ready to return to my view to my right side when out of nowhere, this woman comes up to me and proceeds to [verbally rip my head off.] With a look of shock and slight discomfort on my face, I interjected about 7-10 seconds into the young lady’s diatribe. One key term the woman mentioned was that what I just did by simply standing alongside my kiosk greeting passersby was ‘hawking customers.’ I politely, in a very calm and rational tone, asked her to [please calm down and that her belligerent attitude was without merit. I’d only been working this position for approximately 2 weeks and was not aware of the fact that what I was doing fell within those terms.] She took a deep breath and apologized for her abrasive approach towards me. After all, I thought what I was doing was a simple greeting and if folks wanted to stop and speak with me, then hey, it’s all good. Our job at the kiosk is no less different than perfume samplers asking passersby if they’d like to try a fragrance. It’s a very basic customer service technique that has surrounded sales and overall, good manners since forever.
Unfortunately, by her definition, this was not the case however. She went on to explain to me in a calm and professional manner that in ‘Westfield Mall’, this is considered ‘hawking’ as well. I continued to listen and she was telling me that the kiosk I was hired to work in has a history of citations in excessive value of over $400. I was also told that each citation is $50. I was floored by these stats, as this kiosk supposedly has only been in service at this mall since late November 2010. At this point, my co-worker who’d been there approximately 3 months or so joined our conversation. I politely interrupted her to ask her name and she went on to give me her full name and position at the mall. She identified herself as the sales coordinator for the malls’ 28 specialty kiosks. I extended my hand for a handshake and gave her my name as well. My coworker and I continued to listen respectfully to what she had to say. She gave us a few more rules and regulations we should be aware of and what not. By one of her peers in mall management, she stated that he told her that if another mall associate was seen wearing jeans, she was to send them home. One of our new associates was on duty at this time, and she discovered he was wearing dark black jeans, which at first glance, could be mistaken for slacks. She decided to give him a pass this time, considering the senior mall manager was not present today. As she continued on with her impromptu meeting with us, I let my coworker know that she considered what we were all trained as associates to do is considered hawking. I showed them both exactly what I did, and why she started this discussion in the 1st place, and my coworker was a bit confused too, for what we were trained to do is a very subtle, non-confrontational greeting. So she told us that the only time we are allowed to say anything to a passerby in the mall is when they make direct eye contact with us or they walk up directly to our kiosk and seek our assistance. At this point, my coworker and I were looking for more clarity, so I proceeded to ask questions, and she essentially reiterated much of the same. I then said to him “so basically John, she simply wants us to keep our mouths shut.” She then denies that this is what she was implying. Guys, I’ve never had a sales job where you just stand there and hope a customer comes to you. It’s highly illogical. Think back to the television show ‘The Apprentice’ season 1: task 1. Donald Trump had them selling lemonade on the streets of New York City. To generate sales, they had to hustle and be loud. Any good salesman knows that you have to have good energy and know your product.
Back to my story, she sighed and said, “No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that if the customers don’t look directly at you with eyed contact or come directly to your booth to look at your products, then it is considered hawking.” Nonetheless, her attitude was subtly rising again, and from there, she remained pretty tame. A few minutes later as she continued on with her speech, I casually tossed my little rubber band straight into the air, and caught it. Out of nowhere, she blows up at me and shouts “STOP DOING THAT! That is not allowed in my mall and is unsafe! It does not look professional and…” At this point, I made another attempt at asking her, in a polite rational tone once again, to please calm down. I didn’t know this was against mall rules or policy, let alone dangerous. She didn’t calm down this time. Instead, she continued berating me in a very rude, disrespectful, harshly harassing tone of voice. I went on to say, “I didn’t know this was a big deal or against the rules. I stand next to our kiosk and do this quite often.” I also told her in a more commanding tone “Ms. Again, I did not know this was against policy or would be considered a big deal or dangerous. And you do not have the right to scold me as though I’m a 3 year old under the cusp of your utter control. You are being very disrespectful.” She told my coworker that he needs to make me be quiet. She goes on to say “Who is this guy? Why does he keep talking?” Then she speaks directly to me and says, “If you keep mouthing off and giving me lip, I’m going to revoke the lease to this kiosk.” She proceeded to make more threats because while she continued to go on a rampage, I refused to refrain from speaking. Her behavior, not to mention her threats, were completely out of line and unprofessional. She then threatened to kick me out of the mall and have me banned for the rest of the day. Clearly, I was continuing to lose my cool and she didn’t want to hear anything I had to say, despite how reasonable my concerns were. So my attitude soon began to match hers in a matter of minutes. I then ask her “Ok, so you’re telling us that it’s safe to fly a gigantic remote controlled helicopter within the aisles of the mall where shoppers are walking with their families and children, but it’s dangerous because I toss my rubber band straight up into the air and catch it? That’s simply double standard hypocrisy.” She says “That’s their product and that is their demo. They don’t fly it in the aisles.” I respond “Ms, I just saw them doing it today and on any given shift since I’ve been here.” She then makes more threats, which included having me booted from the mall, and tells me to stop giving her lip. Attempting to storm off with her bad attitude, while never giving us the clarity we asked for so that we could continue to do our jobs within the confines of the rules effectively, that we apparently had not been properly informed of, I attempted to walk and talk with her as she tugged her roll away bag down the aisle. While I was asking questions walking and talking, she stated she was in a hurry and that she was ready to go. She told me again to refrain from speaking back to her and to get away from her. I said “but we didn’t finish our conversation, and we have more questions.” My purpose for more clarity on the rules was to also avoid further altercations such as this, for before this incident, another mall manager scolded me in similar fashion a week or so prior on a set of different rules I allegedly was breaking. I’ll explain more on that later.
In a cowardly fashion, my coworker continued to coddle her behavior and this sickened me. He actually wanted to accept her telling us that we weren’t allowed to greet customers with a basic customer service technique. Add to the fact that he was okay with her berating me and expected me to find this acceptable? I told him, “dude, she isn’t God, and her talking to me this way is completely unacceptable. Why do you guys stand for this sort of abuse?” He then says, “Calm down man. If you get her mad, we could all be without of a job.” I looked at him like he was crazy. At this point, she’d already called security to have me removed and banned from the Westfield Mall for the rest of the day. By this time, I was furious with disgust. The woman was clearly on a power trip out of this world, carrying on like a dictator. If you’ve ever seen the old cartoon “The Jetsons”, you’d know that George Jetson’s boss, Mr. Spacely, had a profusely bad attitude and always berated George, instilling in him fear. He’d fire and rehire George on any given episode. Well, her demeanor was just as bad a tyrannical cartoon character guys. I stood by the kiosk alone and attempted to cool my jets by collecting my thoughts, but by this point I was really disgusted. I whispered to my coworker that if she felt offended by me actually speaking back to her, then I apologize. Notice I said ‘if she felt offended’, because clearly I was well within my right and I will not apologize for what I said and for defending myself against a tyrant. As he was talking to her, security finally showed up and made sure I left for the day.
Here I am being sent home from my current place of employment by an individual who is not my boss, and does not work for my company. We are simply associates, and the company we work for are tenants of the mall. She completely overstepped her authority. Rather than stir a bigger pot of animosity, I complied with the 3 security officers and left the premises without resistance. One thing I did do before leaving is asked of all 3 of them “She’s in mall management and thinks she can harass anyone with her belligerent behavior and attitude, and we should just accept this? You know this is wrong right? Never mind. I understand you guys work directly for the mall, so you have to carry out the orders given to you, despite how irrational I suppose.” I then shook one of their hands and said to all three of them “What country are we living in these days? Is this the United States of America, or is this Iraq? I’m told I’m giving her lip because I had the audacity as some lowly mall associate that works for a kiosk, to ask a mall manager a question after she attempted to figuratively rip my head off? This makes no sense whatsoever.” At this point, I clocked out for the day and left the mall.
Once outside, I called my district manager, who was currently out of town on business, and informed him on what happened. He appreciated my honesty in letting him know of the situation myself. On the way home, I also paid a visit to my local police station and told them what just happened to me. After giving the officer the full story, she was in total awe; furthermore, she stated that as law enforcement officers, even they aren’t allowed to verbally strike down a law abiding civilian in such a disrespectful tone without any sort of reprimand. The officer told me that mall management had no legal grounds to ‘boot’ me from my place of employment, and that the woman’s behavior crossed way over the line of business ethics. The officers mother came into the station at some point, and we all began talking about how public officials create rules for us to follow, but yet they don’t apply the same rules to themselves. One thing we specifically touched on was that elected federal officials are exempt from the ‘TSA’ procedures when flying on the public airlines like the rest of us. We are expected to accept being groped and radiated on the go, but they are not because they have god status? This is total BS, and when you get down to it, this is pure tyranny.
Anytime there are laws on the books, and the powers that be make up the rules as they go, and break ones they don’t like, this is tyrannical behavior. Readers, I ask you this, have always had tyranny in the private sector in stealth mode? Have you ever been in such a situation? Do you find this acceptable? I can tell you loud and clear that I’m 100% against this abusive behavior and the last time I checked, this is a republic that was founded with a constitution of law that all men, women, and children are to be treated equally under the law. We need to take our country back because when the masses began accepting behavior like this, tyrants such as the one I dealt with at the mall are shocked that I dare speak back to her. This was her attitude through and through. She’s not used to speaking to someone who fears no man or woman; not to mention a mall associate who knows his rights. Just so you guys know I have been considering going back to the police to file a formal criminal complaint of harassment against mall management for this incident. The reason being is due to an incident once before from a week or so prior from another mall manager who acted similar fashion, on reciting to me other rules I was not aware of. To be verbally scolded by these individuals not once, but twice is simply not acceptable and should not be tolerated. Neither of these individuals told me who they were when approaching me with their belligerence, but simply scolded me on 2 different occasions for breaking rules I didn’t know about. In his case, he claims the rule I allegedly broke was operating more than 2ft. away from my kiosk. I later went on to bring my measuring tape to work on another day and discovered he was wrong, but still, he had god status, so what he says goes? Nah…I don’t think so. Anyhow, thanks for reading and don’t ever take a back seat to tyranny. Stand up for your rights. Be well fellow defenders of liberty, and long live liberty, peace, and prosperity!
Update:Good news with an update: As of Tuesday 4/19/11. My district manager took part in a sit down meeting with mall management. In my absence, the mall management who went psycho on me has since apologized in regard to her actions. I went to work that Tuesday afternoon and saw her passing by. We greeted each other with a simple handshake and a pleasant. “Good afternoon. How are you?” Essentially, it’s water under the bridge in my case. I was right standing my ground, but can you imagine how many others are threatened by others in power through simplistic intimidation; daring not to take a stand? We really need to collectively change this atmosphere for the better. One person at a time.
A Valente Journal,