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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mufasa!!!!!!

I work in "Corporate America" and I work for "the man." In my case, "the man" is Jesus, but that's a moot point. For some reason, the word "corporate" lends itself to importance and authority--and don't forget about those bearded men around a cherry-stained conference table in leather-backed swivel chairs.

From 1995 until 2003, I was a minimum-wage employee at the now defunct Uptons department store, Goody's (for one day, then I quit--they were heinous), Books-A-Million, Hastings Entertainment, and Linens-N-Things. I've worked for both "good" corporate entities (LNT) and "bad" corporate entities (BAM/Hastings). In the world of retail, a "corporate visit" or "call from corporate" was a phrase that was tossed around by management, and meant to strike fear in the hearts of all of us. Kind of like the word, "Mufasa!"--you know, from those little greasy hyenas in "The Lion King." It worked.

Well, evidently, I'm one of those "corporate scary people" now. For instance, today, I called one of my stores and asked for the manager. The employee answering the phone, nicely said the manager was unavailable and asked if I'd like to leave a message. So, I replied, "oh, no thanks. This is Mary Anna from corporate. Do you know when David will be in?" Instantly, as if the mention of the word "corporate" holds the secret to the Holy Grail, the employee becomes overly perky and sometimes they even stumble over their words---like I'm some kind of celebrity.

Awhile back, my co-worker, Matt, dealt with a similar experience with one of his stores. Matt needed some information from the store manager, and evidently, the store manager asked one of his high-school age employees to "call Matt at corporate and give him this information." The employee sheepishly said no, because they were afraid of messing it up with corporate. It wasn't astrophysics, folks. We're just "corporate scary people."

Personally, I always feel like a fraud when I say "this is Mary Anna from corporate." I feel like I'm in an episode of "The Office" and I'm Jan Levinson-Gould (without the trashiness) calling to harp on her little peons. Speaking of "The Office" and satirical depictions of a business environment, I bought some "The Office"-related swag (stuff we all get) at Target, including some magnets labeled with buzzwords--much like a pack of Magnetic-Poetry. The buzzwords that make direct reference to the show, like "Scranton Party," "Christmas is Cancelled," and "That's what she said." Of course, the set wouldn't be complete without the word "Corporate."

I guess for nothing else, my retail experience has given me a little perspective at my marketing job for retail bookstores. And maybe if I am ever in management at this company, I won't let it go to my head just because I've got "corporate" stamped on it.

4 Comments:

Blogger Rhonda said...

I hope the Office swag is still available at Target; that sounds awesome. "YOU're an organizational tool!"

I can 100% relate about being that person "from corporate." Luckily I've never had anyone scared of me though. I got so annoyed at our restaurant employees being snippy when I asked for the manager, that now I always identify myself first when I call. Unless I'm having one of those days when I feel like teaching someone a lesson in manners....then I wait for them to tell me "He's too busy to talk right now" before I identify myself. Interesting how the mananger is suddenly standing right there. Some jobs have their perks ;)

11:17 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

. . . and the Lion King reference FTW!

-CC

8:08 PM

 
Blogger Courtney said...

Ha, you're so funny. I know for 'corporate' too, but they still scare me.

And I agree the Lion King reference... brilliant.

2:41 PM

 
Blogger Amanda Bradley said...

I worked in the Franklin Lifeway for years, and so I can relate from the store's point of view... corporate people came in all the time, and if we did the littlest thing wrong- like not try to add on the latest Prayer of Jabez coin or bookmark- we would hear about it.

Like it or not, being closeby to your headquarters puts you in a fishbowl... so be nice to the little fishies.

2:57 PM

 

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