EDITOR’S NOTE: With just a couple of notable exceptions, I’ve steered clear of blogging about my job at Big Orange. Still, I find myself wanting my grandchildren to someday understand just what it was that Grandpa did. To their young minds, I probably never had a previous life in the newspaper business. In fact, the youngest among them may never know what a newspaper was, and might have to look it up on Wikipedia like I once looked up Eli Whitney and the cotton gin in my parents’ old Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedias. What follows is a letter to my grandchildren, and maybe a bit of a cautionary tale, too!
I know how excited you are to have a Grandpa who works at Big Orange, and it excites me, too. I thought you might like it if I explained an average work day for you, so here goes!
I have to be at work at 5 a.m., which is before any of you wake up, unless you need to go to the potty or have to puke or something. That’s the only reason why you’d get up that early, but I have to get up early and go to work every day, though not before slamming down several cups of coffee!
When I get to the Big Orange parking lot it is still dark, but the smiles of my eager co-workers are almost brighter than the noonday sun! The first thing we do is walk into the building and punch our secret code into the time clock. The time clock is a device that tells Big Orange how much to pay us. We enter our secret code when we arrive, and again when we leave. We don’t want Big Orange to pay us more than we deserve!
The next thing I do is get my “phaser” out of the closet. The phaser is just like those ray guns they have on Star Trek. You’ve probably seen that old TV show where Captain Kirk tells his crew to “set your phasers on stun.” Well, our phasers have a stun setting, too, but the difference is that the Star Trek phasers stun the enemy, while our phasers sometimes stun us because they contain a stunning amount of work that needs to be done every day!
Grandpa is something of a specialist. I do a job that is called BIT, which stands for Bay Integrity … actually I forget what the T stands for, but maybe it’s Technician, Teammate, or Targaryen . . . something like that. Anyway, there are usually two BITs every day, and we get to do lots of cool things!
After getting our phasers, the BITs try to find our rolling printer carts. If we’re lucky, the printer carts were left plugged in overnight and have plenty of juice, because we will need them to print many, many, many, many labels. Sometimes we’re not lucky and the printers weren’t plugged in, but hey, that’s just the way life goes!
By reading the instructions on the phasers, we roll our printer carts to locations all over the store, where we will get to change prices on many of the things we sell.
Sometimes the prices go up a little, and sometimes the prices go down a little. Sometimes, when it’s really really special, the price will go up one day, then back down the very next day, which makes us very jolly!
To change a price, we first have to find the product, and in a place as large as Big Orange, that isn’t always easy. We have a method that sometimes works, and the key is in Bay Validation, which is another job that Grandpa gets to do! Bay Validation is when we use the phaser to scan every single item on a particular group of shelves. These groups of shelves are called bays. The phaser shoots a red laser beam, and goes beep, beep, beep, beep a thousand million times, which is very stunning indeed!
Bay Validations tell us where each product is located, so when the time comes to change its price, we can then roll our little carts right up and get to work! Sometimes, though, it’s not that easy. Some people who work at Big Orange are sort of “merchandising pathfinders,” which means they walk “right off the map” by moving things without telling anybody. That’s how products sometimes wind up in funny, unexpected locations! When things “fall off the map” in that way, Grandpa and Grandpa’s friend get to track them down. It’s like a big Easter Egg hunt, but without the bunnies and chocolate!
Grandpa and Grandpa’s friend will try to help each other on the Easter Egg hunt because we work as a team! For instance, I’ll say, “Have you seen the toilet plungers? They used to be on Aisle 29, but somebody must have moved them.” Then Grandpa’s friend might answer, “Yes, I saw toilet plungers over with the blinds and drapes! I wondered what they were doing over there!” Then we’ll both laugh, and I’ll go over to the drapery aisle to change the prices on the toilet plungers, all the while keeping my eyes peeled for the doorknobs my friend told me he was having trouble locating. That’s how teams work, alway trying to help each other after one of the merchandising pathfinders takes some product off the map!
When I’m not busy changing prices or validating bays, the phaser might tell me to count things. It might direct me to find a particular screw, for instance, and it will also tell me how many screws Big Orange thinks it has in the store. My job is to then count the screws and see if the number is the same, because Big Orange really needs to know if it has 678 screws, or only 677 screws, which is the number Grandpa came up with after counting them. Maybe you better recount them, Grandpa!
Beep, beep, beep goes the phaser, and now it’s time for another bay validation! Beep, beep, beep, beepity-beep, beep! Oh, and here’s a customer who wants a toilet plunger! I stop my bay validation and direct her to the drapery aisle! Knowing where everything is makes me feel swell!
Grandpa still remembers the first question a customer ever asked him! It was, “Where is the hydraulic cement?” Grandpa had never even heard of hydraulic cement way back then, but that’s the good thing about working at Big Orange, because now I can tell anybody where to find the hydraulic cement. Beep, beep, beep, beepity-beep, beep, beep!
Soon it’s time for me to go home, but why’s my phaser acting funny? Oh my! The phaser is downloading a new manifest, which means more exciting price changes will be waiting for me tomorrow before dawn!
Beep, beep, goes the phaser! Beep, beep, goes the time clock!
Now Grandpa is driving home. I shout, “Watch out everybody!” as I lay on the horn and burn rubber down the street. Beep, beep! Beepity-beep, beep!