In Space no one can hear you re-design a Blog.

8 years - still not making any sense.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Lets talk the exciting world of retail.

So, when you're channelling a mid-life crisis into further education you have to decide how you're going to pay the bills.
a) Go back to being a sex worker.
ok sure - we had some laughs, but the constant shopping for new hot pants was starting to get to me.
b) Consulting.
This keeps the money rolling in - but it takes up a lot of your mental resources.
So university and working are both trying to take up %80 of your mental resources. That's unsustainable. So you can do less study...but that means you'll be studying for the next 20 years.
c) What did you do for a living BEFORE you you'd your brain for a living?
That would be making coffee and tending bar.

So - that would be where you head.
It was a little bit scary how quickly running a bar came back to me. It was like 3rd shift and all the information was- boop - back in my head again.

Luckily - the place I was working was...very very badly managed. It was sad as we all really liked working there and we could have made the place work..except for the owners who were ACTIVELY trying to make the place fail.
Like...buying a funky bar and slowly turning it into a crappy RSL. They used Comic Sans on the signage. I kid you not. The owner was ENERGETICLY against social media. like "screw the people that are our target customers - I'd hate to tell them where we are."
Across the street there was a room with second hand couches and a few different craft beers on tap. THATS ALL. They were full every night. Sigh.
"Let's go somewhere where the James Taylor records are spinning!"

So anyways - I did use the owner as a case example through pretty much all of my degree in business. He was..just fascinating how someone can fail on so many levels.

When the place inevitably closed ("But where we get out of date beer?" said no one ever) I wanted to do something even less cognitively engaging than pouring beers. And I found it. 
Selling beers.

And welcome to the world of alcohol retail.
The bottle shop.
While I finished my second degree I was the guy who sat behind the counter and answered questions such as:
"What's a good wine?" 
(sigh) There is no way to answer that question without follow up questions. I could say 
Chateau Margaux 2009 Balthazar retails for about four grand a bottle - so I guess thats good..?"

"Whats the cheapest wine?" 
(That one we get a lot) I'm actually ok with this one. Working in the Valley I would have a fair few people who clearly are in the very late stages of alcohol dependance waiting for the shop to open. In the face of that sort of need you lose your sense of humour almost instantly.
Bottle shop people ALWAYS know exactly what the cheapest wine is - because we have to restock it ever 12 minutes.

"Do you price match?"
This would seem like a fair question if you were buying a few cases - but when you're getting one bottle of Toohey's Old...just buy the freaking beer

"I thought that was on special."
Ok, so yeah, there are a crapload of things on special at every moment in a bottle shop. Sometimes they don't scan at the cheaper price. Its annoying, but it happens.
When you do 2 shifts a week - you're not spending any time memorising every single bottle of special goodness that has $2 off. When you notice it hasn't scanned correctly - have some freaking perspective. The person at the counter isn't somehow pocketing the amount of difference in an Ocean's 11 type scenario that ends with them at the Bellagio laughing and drinking champagne
They just want to finish the shift and have their till balance.
So..if you notice that the item scans at the wrong price - it's not an affront to your civil rights as a consumer - its a simple mistake with a database not updating with the new prices.

So - and this is the absolute kicker. Just tell the poor bugger behind the counter that the thing is not scanning and it should be cheaper - AS SOON AS IT HAPPENS.
Don't wait until the transaction has finished and you've paid by credit card and had the bottle engraved and taken selfies with the bottle and told your parents you have the bottle.
The amount of people that seem to need to compartmentalise the entire process before they go into "Review Mode" and then give notes on how they feel the whole thing went. They will do a face that says "Im going to go into detective mode right now and expose this SCAM FOR WHAT IT IS!
They will even do a half raised eyebrow.
At this time - hooray for you being one quarter of the human components of the Famous Five and solving your mystery. 
However you'll find that the counter monkey who just wants to pretend like they don't actually work there - can't reverse that sort of transaction.
Of course they don't.
Why would anyone give what is usually a 20-something the authority to reverse charges on credit cards. It would take one bad egg with that authority to bankrupt Coles-Myre.
So at this point - there really isn't anything they can do - except give you a credit on another purchase.

The thing is - losing your s**t at someone in that circumstance isn't going to change that. It just makes you look like a bit of a jerk.

It's not always questions that are the start of some of these "advanced retail" lessons..
The gentle art of pay-passing.
Near Field Technology.
  • Just put your card where the logo is.
    If you get it too close you won't be charged twice. Be brave.
  • Don't "Tap" it.
    Just put it next to the machine until it goes "Beep". You will look less cool - but it will work.
  • Don't move it around in a small circle.
    It's not a type of freaking velcro. Moving it around a little bit won't make it "Catch" your signal.
  • If you're not using pay-pass you're not some sort of down-home "keeping it real" "rejection of the robot overlords freedom fighter" rebel. seriously you're not "old school" for the alcohol. 
He said we didn't need ID if we knew how to work the PayPass machine without help.
The guy that wants me to know how he is so very successful.
There are 2 types:
"look at how much money I drop in this store"
If it was a boat store, or the stock market, or maybe the place rap stars go to buy Booty-dancers to wiggle next to them all the time store - this might be impressive.

But people who are connoisseurs of the finest frementables are probably not picking them up in single units from a shop in a suburb of Brisbane. They are very probably buying them from brokers.
Which exist. If you like different types of Gin and have a collection in your cabinet - thats where you are buying them from. Getting 5 bottles of Makers Mark from a place that used to be a service station doesn't make me suspect your a millionaire. It makes me think you don't get the one-on-one interaction your ego needs when you go to a much better retailer like Dan Murphy's.
Even I don't buy spirits where I work.

"I know all about retail" Guy.
There have been a few, but there is one guy in particular that NEEDS me to know that pricing things $14.99 DOESN'T fool him. He's so very much on to that.
He mentions it every time. He says things like "why do they do that?" "It doesn't work on me" and "Let's just call it 15." with a sly smile to indicate he's so very much not playing the patsy on this carefully orchestrated cat and mouse that we are playing with the prices.
He does this however as he is giving me his hard earned for the thing that was priced at $14.99 so his stand is a little weak.
The thing is - I can actually explain how it works, and why. I have a degree in Psychology AND in Business that included, literally, an entire week of a marketing subject on this and why it works. (Heuristics - is the short answer - your brain is very very lazy).

If you're interested:

Nice try you scheming bastards.

"Are you open" guy
The same guy also comes to the door 15 minutes before we are open (there is a big f**k off metal grate across the doors) and says "Are you open?".
We very clearly aren't. Whats more there are very strict licensing laws about when I am actually allowed to sell things.
When I say "no - not yet" he has to try to teach me a lesson about retail and how I just. don't. get. it.
"So I'll just go up the street to somewhere else then....?" He says, just so desperate for me to make the connection about how if I serve him now I will become ADVANCED RETAIL because I have facilitated a customer and that is what IT IS ALL ABOUT.
When I say "I guess so." he is visibly saddened about how I'm just never going to make it in the world of retail with my attitude. It breaks my heart that he thinks I don't get the gems of wisdom he is trying to give me.
The fact that I am clearly in no way part of any "profit Vs reward" chain of events just doesn't occur to him.
The other bottle shop is a block away and he spends less than the nice old lady who buys champagne 3 times a week so I sleep ok with his consumer choices.

Retail is retail.
Selling houses or high end consumer goods is a career choice. 
Being a cog in a machine that you use to get your food and drink isn't.
Be kind. The person behind the counter has a story going on too.
That costs nothing.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Oh man here we are again. I've been a bad landlord of this blog and my Flickr responsibilities.
This is the one thing (ok theres a book of my photos from India) that I think about that I can fix up and get back on track as soon as I stop studying.
I'll even be re-doing my own blog soon too.

so. please keep the spirit alive and I will have the festival back up in all its insane glory soon.
xx Syme.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Where's the love

My little blog has been ignored for so long.

I went to uni - and i lost all my spare time.

On the plus side I now have a degree in Psychology - and I have almost finished a degree in Business. can imaging how opinionated I am now.

This is a promise to myself that I will get back to my blog.

I will also be doing  hardcover of my photos and blog entries of my trip to India.

How am I?
Really happy.
In love with a beautiful woman, studied Positive Psychology in the Netherlands, finished degree in Psychology and moving into doing training for managers and things - as you do - as I just don't like bullies, and clumsy government types.
I you ever read my "how to survive a team building exercise" blog post - that won't surprise you.

xxx s

Thursday, December 11, 2014

10.12 The grumpy express to Hanoi

It's early.
We are up, and have our bags packed so we can grab a bite to eat before the driver arrives at 6:40.
I can feel the grumpy within me.
deep breaths.
The staff are waiting for us when we get downstairs (who else would they be waiting for) but there is no coffee to be had.
I carry my bags to within 2 feet of the car when one of the hotel staff insists on fighting me for my bag. I can'
t see the point so I wave hime away. Its cool I have it for the last 20 inches.
He insists on fighting, literally pushing with force, my hand from my bag.
It would be in the car by now if I'd finished what I was doing.
oh sweet jesus. ok dude here you go.
He moves my bag the final foot to the car and he's beside himself with the work he's done.
of god I'm tired and grumpy.
When we get to the airport our driver lines us up in the wrong line and puts our bags on the wrong belt.
I think we might be better off on our own.

The hue airport is small. We read books until the wifi works. We check in with our emails and sit there 3/4 asleep.
We board a bus that takes us to the only plane on the tarmac. It would have been quicker to let us walk there than the time it takes to file everyone on and off the bus.

The flight is ok, Bri tries to sleep and I finish one book and start another.
The wait at a baggage carousel is always a little bit nerve racking. Once we see our bags we are both noticeably more relaxed - we're too tired for an adventure right now. we are! The last city of our tour - Hanoi! Yay!
Busy busy busy Many people everywhere - much like Saigon. We can almost relax into it as it's not anything were aren't prepared for.

We check in and unwind - but we are hungry. we head down stairs and have burger - BIG MISTAKE!

We are met by our guide for the afternoon, a food blogger who takes tourists on a "street food" tour of Hanoi. He sees us fishing lunch and looks a little worried "You will be doing a LOT of eating" he warns us. oops.
You Need fake bums? We gotcha fake
bums right here.
First stop is a noodle  shack in a market laneway. Yummy, I can already feel how much of a mistake it was to have eaten. We leave most of it and are given yummy deep fried puff balls on our way out of the lane way.

You need a bag of frogs? We got a bag
of frogs right here. No one knows why.
I'm already full.

We walk the street and have rice cakes and another walk through a meat market where everyone has the "long day afternoon snoozies". We smell herbs and see yummy commodities such as hand bangs of frogs and the always popular "Heap'o'snakes in a bucket".
To our credit we never scream or burst into tears. I think it's because we're too tired.
A stop for coffee, we swap phone apps and have a chat.
Our guide turns out to be a massive Cath and Kim fan. small world. He reveals this by asking us if something is "Noice". That's cross cultures right there.

We taxi to another part of town and when we get out I spy a guy who makes stamps, I get 3 for my sisters children for the Christmas frenzy.

We finish up with some fruit in a coconut milk, it's yummy.
I am so full it literally is hurting.

When we get back to the hotel we are blobs. we can hardly move.

We have long baths and watch movies. It's almost relaxing, but the room service people keep knocking on our door to give us stuff they forgot to give us last time they spoke to us, fruit, flowers, salt, hugs, pictures they made out of glue glitter and pasta.
Overtime they do we have to "re-pants" and shut the door to the bathroom. Enough love now thank you room service people.
She works hard for her hard for it honey.
Sleep comes easily.

9.12.12 Phew..Hue.

The staff are all waiting for us as we come down to have breakfast. I mean...who else would they be waiting for?
There are two forces at play. They are students, and the whole place is a government institution. So you have student "Meh" mixed with "Wha?" and governmental "pfft."
these two forces combined don't make for an award winning hotel. You can have one - but not both. Someone needs to be a manager. The guy thats is paying the wages and rapidly watching his dreams disappear into massive debt that yells - "MOVE! CLEAR THE DISHES!!!!" has a very important role to play.
Things are..kind of government - they are here..but not switched on.
Breakfast is kind of like that. Its the meal that really highlights cultural differences.
There are really not that many ways to do eggs. hard soft, fried, poached, boiled..etc.
We are the only people staying here - so they can take an extra few seconds to get it right for us - no one else will complain.  The salt shakers are there...but they are all blocked..(just pop some rice in them..there is rice about, I've seen it.). I sound grumpy. I was getting there - the death by a thousand paper cuts was bleeding me dry.
I got my breakfast - it was close enough. They were about to expand to a 400 room capacity - they might need to ask themselves what they're doing if they can't get 2 people's breakfast right with a full staff on.
Ok whinge done.
So off we trot to the Forbidden city. Not as forbidden as it once was obviously.
If you absolutely have to get a job as a Emperor, and absolutely have to house your wife, your wife's mother, and 100 concubines - this would just be the perfect place.
The scale is so huge.
We have so little recorded history in Australia that when you walk amongst this sort of visual history in other countries it's just awe inspiring.
We walked around the city - saw the park for the elephants, the temples, and the places that were bombed in the "French American War"

Aside: It's the "American War" even though it was a fair bit of North Vs South and the idiots invited super powers to get involved and use their country as a propaganda factory. History is written by the victors they say, in this case it's written by the victims.

Anyhow, its being restored and it is amazing. I'm pretty sure I should be an Emperor. I felt right at home here.
When we were going through the buildings and the guide was saying :This is where the Emperor lived" and "this is where the emperors's wife lived" and "this is where the Emperors Mother lived" Bri asked "Where did the Emperor's dad live?" Goofus.

From there to a Pagoda. or as our guide calls them Pah-Go-Dahhhhhs.
Cute little porto-monks running around with the monk hair cuts and robes. Our guides sister is a monk with her own pagoda, he was very proud of her and he told us about her and how she has her own disciple. It was a good reminder that this is living history and not a quaint tourist thing.
We jumped on a boat to go up the perfume river for a bit. When it earned the name they didn't do it ironically - these days..phew.

The boat is a small ferry type of thing for up and down the river, there are plastic seats. We are shown the display of things for sale to mark our trip up a little bit of the river on a ferry and hold them as timeless keepsakes. The lady sets up a "guilt market" around Bri, even though she has politely said - "no thank you". She tried to look out the window as she keeps trying to sell stuff. Im waiting for her to send out a child clutching their stomach and crying "Wy do you hate me?" to just really hammer it home. It's uncomfortable...for her...for me it's funny to watch. I'm not getting the hard sell.

From there we walk back to the hotel. Bri is still not 100% and decides to have a sleep for a little bit and I go for a walk.
I have a beer and check my email. I chat with randoms for a while and the lady brings me a HUGE bottle of tiger beer, I chat for a while with an American Eco-Warrior who has spent some time in Byron Bay.
(massive pass of time where I didn't get back to writing things in my journal- so most of this is from memory a few days later)
I head back to the hotel to wake up Bri and we head back to the DMZ. We meet some Canadians and swap stories  and drink lots of beer - it's nice and relaxed. We take arty profile photos of ourselves.
There is great wifi so we update our various emails, instagrams and face books.
After many beers we head to an Italian place for dinner and a bottle of red, then back to our hotel "The chateau de la work experience" and fall asleep.

Monday, December 08, 2014

8.12.12 Hoi an to Hue. Marble Madness

My journal has caught up with me now.
We drive through the mountains to get from Hoi an to Hue.
We see lots of statues in the area that all of the marble craftsmen live.
we cross lots of high mountains and it gets a little foggy - the cold cousin of hot and humid. It's very nice - but hard to translate to pictures because it's just shots of fog..
We stop at a couple of interesting spots - including "China Beach"
We also had a look at some museums on the way.
History is everywhere. It's always good to be reminded that there is so much to learn.

When we finally get to Hue we are at a hotel that is run by graduates of the local Hospitality school.
They are expanding the hotel - so there is a massive noise assaulting us of an industrial drill type thing working away. "I hope we aren't close to that" I say.
We are led upstairs in the opposite direction. Phew.
Noticably missing.
Then once upstairs we are led..towards the drill noise. oh noes.
So I have to be "That Guy" and I ask us to be moved to a different room. They move us to a perfectly good room down the hallway. The place doesn't look like it's full...why weren't we put there first?
I also try the wifi. It works in the hallway as a distant signal but not in the room..The router is in the hall way..that doesn't make sense. I head downstairs and ask if..maybe..the router isn't turned on?
the guy does something at his desk..and..look it works.
This is that last time it works for the next few days. I'm too exhausted to ask again.

We hit the streets and head up to the most colonial looking hotel and the bar on the top floor. The place is superb looking, but there aren't any people here...we have a drink and go looking for where the people are at.
We find the DMZ bar. Here they all are. It seems to be the place that everyone goes to - gravity alone seems to draw you there. The beer is cold and the pizzas are yummy. Deep exhale.
This is the place where later in the night backpackers will meet, drink beer and pick up. We are told by our guide the next day that there are many "Naughty people" who hang out there late at night. (He has family members who are monks - so its a little hard to guess what it takes to qualify as a "Naughty person" we may be them).
We chat with a couple from Perth. The woman is everything that gives white travellers a bad name. she lists all the horrible toilets she's ever seen, and tells us she was "afraid to move" on the train she was on. She has forced her husband to end the holiday and they are now on their way to find a flight home earlier than they were supposed to. I could see in his eyes that a little something has died.
I get her to admit that it's really the influence of tourists that ruin most of these places, and once she starts on "dirty countries" she gets on a roll and and starts talking about indigenous australians, and how they shouldn't be allowed to have children.
At this point I'm absolutely done and stop speaking to her. I don't want her in Vietnam...and I don't really want her in Australia either. Can she just got to the moon or something? I'm sure the toilets averred nice in space.
At the hotel there is a girl at the bar (working) and we chat with her. She has done a year in Belgium, and has a whole life plan sorted out working in hospitality. She lets slip that we are actually the only ones staying in the hotel - how rock star. Hilarious.
so....why the f**k did they take us to the room with the drilling going on?