If you've ever worked in retail, you know that store managers can sometimes be extremely petty individuals. At any moment, you might say or do something that makes them feel you're testing their authority, and suddenly they've turned their back on you.
That's exactly what happened to this Redditor by the username mcnew. She got a job at a pet store to support herself through college, hoping it would be a relaxed work environment where she could explore her love of animals while also helping customers. Unfortunately, her department manager had other ideas. As mcnew explains it:
The store manager was an awesome guy who I will call Kurt. Kurt was an old-school guy: he went to work, worked hard, and went home. That's all he expected out of you as well.
But my immediate supervisor, the manager for my department, was this cruel-hearted, spiteful woman whom I'll call Stephanie. We got off to a bad start because she quickly found out that I knew more about reptiles than her (she preferred the fish, whereas I had kept snakes for the past 4-5 years). Her ego couldn't handle a fresh employee not needing her guidance.
From then on she was terrible to me. She singled me out to clean the goldfish tanks and had the other employees cover sales EVERY day I worked. She would say rude things to me like, 'You're the weak link in my team,' or 'You're the reason I'm having problems in this department,' even though all the other staff members agreed I was doing a great job and deserved more responsibilities.
After about a year of being mistreated, mcnew realized her hours had been cut by about 25% since she started. She decided to confront the store manager, Kurt, about this because she trusted him to give her a truthful answer. What he told her came as a surprise.
Kurt told me that he didn't want to cut my hours, but that he had no choice. Our department had lost too much money over the past year, both from a lack of sales and a sharp rise in broken merchandise. This puzzled me, as I hadn't noticed either problem, but I didn't think much of it because everybody's hours were cut and at least I knew I wasn't being singled out.
mcnew was relieved that she wasn't being punished, but at the same time, Kurt's response got her thinking. Why had there been a drop in sales and a sharp rise in broken merchandise? Suddenly, she realized that something else had changed in the past year: Stephanie had become the store's most beloved salesperson.
Myself and a few coworkers had noticed Stephanie had recently taken much more interest in the customers. She insisted on helping certain customers and sending us to do busywork while they were there. A customer came in one evening and was talking to us about 'how nice Stephanie is,' and we all couldn't believe our ears!
mcnew was sure that something was up. One day, she eavesdropped on Stephanie while she was with one of 'her' customers and found the answer to all her questions.
Hiding away among the fish tanks, there they were, talking about the secret deal they had arranged: namely, that Stephanie was breeding mice and selling them to this customer outside of the store so that he could feed them to his snake as live bait.
After a few days of watching her, we realized Stephanie was breeding not just mice, but all the animals she owned (her dogs, turtles, mice, and more) and selling them to customers she met through our store. Not only was this taking business from us, our store also had a corporate policy prohibiting the sale of mice as live food for snakes. We also donated a lot of time and money to animal shelters and condemned the breeding of dogs and cats for personal profit.
In short, Stephanie was making money under the table by selling animals to the customers, while her department had cut the hours for all of its employees.
What still didn't quite make sense to mcnew, though, was why this was costing the store such a huge amount of money, and why there had been such an increase in 'broken merchandise' being sold at a discount. That is, until one evening at the store when Stephanie was strolling around with one of her 'special' customers.
Generally, Stephanie was a pretty lazy person who never took initiative, but when one of her 'special' customers came in she was by their side the whole time. I watched closely as Stephanie followed a customer around, helping them pick out a cart full of expensive aquarium decorations and terrarium supplies like lights and bulbs.
I followed them through the store and wrote down every item Stephanie grabbed off the shelf for this customer. I wanted to see where it all went. When they had finished, she directed the customer to a cash register and went to check them out. This was strange in itself because, again, Stephanie was lazy and would never do this for any other customers. I noted the time and went back to work.
Later, I spoke to other cashiers about Stephanie checking customers out. They said that she only ever rang up certain customers and that she acted weird while she was doing it. They suspected she was abusing the coupon system for these customers, or simply applying hefty discounts.
mcnew got her co-workers to corroborate her story about Stephanie's under-the-table animal sales, and her suspicious behavior at the cash register. Then, she gathered up all of her supporting evidence and went to the only person who could do something about it: the store manager, Kurt.
I handed him a paper with about 20 items on it that I had seen Stephanie put in the customer's cart, along with the time of the purchase written on it. I said, 'I think if you look up a transaction from Register 2 at this time last night, you will find a large discount applied to it. These are the items I would expect you to find on that transaction.'
Kurt was a bit puzzled as I explained everything to him. I told him I didn't want to make any accusations earlier because I wasn't sure what was happening, but after seeing her in action I was pretty sure something was going on. He thanked me and assured me he would look into it.
A couple of weeks later, mcnew was at work when she noticed Stephanie was coming in to begin her shift. But this time, something was different.
I noticed Kurt was standing near the door watching closely. The second she walked through the door he called her over to his office. Apparently, waiting in his office was a regional manager from corporate.
I later found out that Kurt had indeed looked up Stephanie's transaction from the night before. He found one at the exact time I wrote, but it only had about half of the items I listed. That said, every item that was on the receipt was on the list I gave him. This prompted him to watch her for a couple of weeks, and in that time-frame they found her to be taking 'her special customers' around shopping, personally taking them up to the register, and scanning only about HALF of the items. She would put the more expensive products into the customer's bags without ringing them up.
In that timespan, she had given away over $1500 in merchandise. Kurt looked back at the logs we keep for broken merchandise that is written off and found an excessive amount of aquarium supplies and decorations that were signed off by her. It was something like ten times as much written-off broken merchandise than had been recorded at the same time last quarter. Obviously, she had cooked the books.
Stephanie's crime spree had finally come to an end, and she was going to pay for what she had done. mcnew didn't get to find out what happened to Stephanie -- whether she went to jail or not -- but she did get to watch Stephanie's downfall right in front of her.
All in all, Stephanie was charged with stealing/defrauding the store over $3,500 in merchandise. And it just so happened that Kurt had already arranged for police to come into the office after firing her, in order to walk her out.
So I watched Stephanie get walked out by police, with about 20 employees standing around staring. I wish I could have said something, but I had to settle for her making eye contact with me as she walked out. I gave her a quick wink, and I hope she knew in that moment that it was me.
Ah, the satisfaction of a guilty person getting what they deserve. Think about it: Stephanie's reign of terror lasted for over a year. If mcnew hadn't stepped up and decided to put a stop to her supervisor's crimes, the mystery of who was effectively stealing both customers and merchandise from the store would never have been solved, and Stephanie would have gotten away with it.
Instead, thanks to our storyteller, justice was served, the pet store was able to recover from their losses, and we can only assume she and her fellow employees finally got back those hours that had been taken away from them. I'm glad people like mcnew are around to set a top-notch example for the rest of us!
So Stephanie, who's the 'weakest link' now?
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