Here we are again with Jaime, our Tattoo Girl!
This post is standalone, but if you’d like to read earlier installments, please see links at the end of this post.
On the bus to work the next day Jaime felt good about her decision. She definitely did not want to have Maxine as a manager, and even though Maxine was a new hire and it was a long shot that she might be asked to take the role, since it was temporary and since it was corporate making the decisions, anything could happen. Walking along the sidewalk from the bus stop to the strip mall where the OfficeCo building stood, Jaime told herself it was better to take the manager role. Who knows, she may learn something that she could use later. Management was always needed in the arts – she had read that somewhere – and she definitely wanted to go into the arts again if she had the chance.
The meeting with Corporate was at 9:00 in the break room, an hour before they opened. She was five minutes early.
Maxine was there.
Jaime’s heart did something strange, and she caught herself holding her breath. Easy, she told herself. Just take things as they come. – You can always give notice. You can find something else, there’s lots of retail jobs out there.
Maxine was putting something in the refrigerator. Jaime edged around the other side of the table in the room to the wall of lockers and stowed her stuff in one on the end. “Hey, Maxine,” she said.
Maxine straightened up and shut the fridge. “Hey,” she said, “What’s up?”
Jaime shrugged. “Nothing new,” she lied.
“‘K,” Maxine said. “Well, I’m just getting the floor set up. Doing the opening for you guys while you meet with Corporate.”
Huh? Doing the opening? You guys?
Maxine must mean whoever was coming from Corporate. Probably that HR person who sent the email.
“Um, thanks,” Jaime said. Now she felt even more nervous.
She took a seat at the table and checked the time. 9:00 on the dot.
“Good morning,” a voice said. Jaime turned toward the door.
A woman wearing a navy suit, hair in a ponytail – young-ish – walked in. She put a soft-cover navy blue portfolio on the table and reached for Jaime’s hand. “Katya Harrison, Corporate HR.”
Jaime half-stood and shook the woman’s hand. “Jaime Lopez,” she said.
“Yes. Call me Katya. Good to meet you. Glad you got my email and glad to hear you’re interested in the position.”
Jaime sat down again. Katya flipped open the portfolio and sifted through a couple of sheets of paper. Jaime recognized the portfolio from the line of business accessories they carried in the store.
Katya glanced at her watch. “Well, I hate to wait,” she looked up at Jaime, “so let’s go into the preliminaries.”
Wait? It was five after nine, and Jaime had been prompt. She had been early.
Then Corey walked in.
He came around the table, as Jaime had done, and stowed his stuff in a locker.
Jaime looked expectantly at Katya. “I have a question,” she said.
“Go ahead,” Katya answered.
“I was wondering, how long would you expect me to be in this role?”
“Well, it’s uncertain. Probably at least 2-3 months.” She sighed. “It takes a while to find a good manager – vetting candidates, scenario interviewing, background check – oh, good, Corey, sit down here.”
Corey, looking embarrassed, sat down across from Jaime.
“Now. We know it’s going to be a couple months – maybe as long as six months – and so, as a way to more evenly spread out the burden of the manager role, we’ve asked both of you to share the responsibility.”
Jaime, in shock, said, “I didn’t know.”
“We wanted to be sure each of you accepted the role before going into further details. Now, Nathan has moved on. So you’ll be working with a couple of our managers from other stores to learn the role. We’ll probably have you go out and work in their locations, alongside them, at first, which is another reason why we decided you’ll share the role. That way we won’t have you both out of the store at the same time.”
“I’m not sure-” Jaime started, but Katya went on.
“Here’s the paperwork for the temporary role – look it over, read as carefully as you like, and when you’re ready sign at the bottom.” She handed each of them a set of forms. “There’s a non-disclosure agreement and a confidentiality form – since you’ll be viewing financials, that’s a requisite. There is a list of do’s and don’ts that you’ll need to adhere to. Also an employee coaching guide – more of a pamphlet really. Mostly for reference, as the other managers will model the procedures to follow with employee supervision. And finally instructions for creating your system login – it’s a different login than the employee login you use now.”
Jaime took the papers, but she said, “I’m not sure I can do this.”
Katya hesitated. “But your email said you accepted the role. Has something changed?”
“It’s just that I didn’t know we would be sharing the role. Corey and me.”
“Oh, that. Well, it’s a perfect opportunity to try it out. Between the two of you, it wouldn’t surprise me if one of you fits into it naturally. Perhaps even both of you – and we have openings coming up in a couple of our other stores, so there will be a chance to move up for either or both of you.”
Corey said, “So this is a competition?” He was frowning.
“No, no, nothing like that,” Katya said. She smiled. “Pitting one employee against another is so ’90s. We just don’t want to overburden you. And we’ve found that training two workers in the same location is a kind of safety net – you can share information, ask each other’s advice, etc. That’s all.”
“I’m working full time hours now,” Jaime said. This was upsetting. It wasn’t at all what she had planned. “If I’m only a part-time manager, then what happens to the rest of my hours?”
“Yeah, me, too,” Corey chimed in.
“Wait, wait -” Katya held up her hands. “Yes, you will still be working the full 40 hours a week. There’s plenty of store hours to cover between you.”
Jaime started to look through the papers, but she was felt unsettled. Things were awkward between her and Corey, though their most recent conversation, when he told her about his past, had eased things a bit. But it still felt uncomfortable to have the “co-managing” idea sprung on them without notice.
She said, “Can I ask why this wasn’t in the email you sent us?”
“Would it have changed your decision?” Katya asked.
“Maybe. I’m not sure.” She didn’t want Corey to think she didn’t want to work with him.
“Well. How about you, Corey?” Katya said.
“I think we should have been told,” he said. “That way we’d have had all the information up front.”
“That’s a good point.” Katya paused. “Now that you do know, do you need time to reconsider your decision? Jaime?”
It was unfair, this putting her on the spot. She rubbed her arm, thinking. Her fingers crossed the pattern of the cat tattoo on her arm and she looked down at it. It made her think of Mr. Mittens. She shouldn’t be intimidated by being caught off-guard. She could make this decision. She could decide this now, regardless of whether they had told her about Corey and the shared role.
“No, I’m fine,” she said. “In fact, I think it’s a good idea.”
Katya turned to Corey. He said, “I’m still interested in the opportunity.”
“Okay, great. Then if you’ll review the paperwork-”
“But,” Corey said, “you need to tell people ahead next time. It’s only fair.”
Katya nodded. “I see your point. Both of you.” She brightened. “See? You’re already working together to improve things!”
Jaime bent over the papers and started reading. As she reached the end of the first page, she thought, I’m getting another job. Soon. She would call Tamara when she got home – and explain things more carefully this time. And she would follow up with the arts organizations, maybe there were new internships posted some way to get a foot in the door.
Have you ever been surprised by a work development? Have you had to make a decision in a hurry? How do you know if you’ve made the right decision?
Thanks for following along, would love to hear any thoughts you have about where this story is going, if desired!
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