I’m Trying Hard To Solve My ‘Staffing Issues’


I was at my store in North Florida this week for two reasons. 1) There was a family reunion at a nearby theme park, and 2) Thomas, my store manager, was out sick.

My plan was to relieve my assistant manager, Jane, for a few days so she didn’t burn out before Thomas got back. The doctors figured his Bell’s palsy “face freeze” would go away in about three weeks, and I had my fingers crossed.

Things started to unravel when Jane quit. She called me on Saturday to say she would stay as long as I needed her, and then again on Sunday to say that Saturday had been her last day.

“But good news!” she chirped. “A real nice applicant came in, and I called Thomas and he hired her over the phone.”

“No, he didn’t,” I said. “I’ll be right there.”

I met Rhonda on Tuesday, and she was OK except for an extremely flighty, nervous demeanor, mumbling conversation that went on even after I’d left to go into another room, and the fact that she had another part-time job so would not be able to work Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays or every other Wednesday, but she wasn’t sure which Wednesdays they were.

Plus, she had a purse that barked.

“It’s my ring tone,” she explained. “It tells me it’s time to feed my dog.”

Bark, bark, bark!

“Well, do you have to…”

Bark, bark, bark!

“Do you have to go…”

Bark, bark, bark!


Bark, bark, bark!

“No, he’ll be fine. Should I rubber-stamp the back of these checks?”

She saw no need to turn the phone off so I made her put it in the drawer, but now we were getting dirty looks from customers.

<Bark, bark, bark!>

By the end of the day, I had decided I would keep looking for a new clerk.

But it wasn’t that easy. I had some year-old applications, but the people had either moved or gotten other jobs. Then Madge happened.

“Excuse me,” she said. “I overheard your dilemma, and I would be just thrilled to work here.”

I trained Madge on Thursday, and she was terrific. She was young, smart, energetic, polite and a heck of a salesgirl. At the end of the day, when she came out of the back room carrying a mop, I almost got heart palpitations. I told her to come in 15 minutes early on Friday so I could show her how to open up.

On Friday, she called and said, “I regret to inform you…”

I feared the worst.

“…that I have car trouble, and I’ll be half an hour late.”

It was almost a relief.

On Saturday, she asked if she could get her pay early because she had to bail her fiancé out of jail.

On Sunday, I went to Thomas’ house to beg him to come in no matter how he looked.

“But I can’t smile!” he protested.

“I don’t care.”

“I can’t blink!”

“I don’t care.”

“I drool on one side, and half my nose runs.”

“I’ll buy you some tissues!”

Of course, Thomas is not back at work. His medication makes him sleepy, surly and unable to drive. Rhonda and Madge are making a go of it, together with my sub — the one who worked on Wednesday even though, “I must be getting the flu because I was in the bathroom half the day, throwing up!”

So if you’ve been reading the decorating magazines and have decided you’d like to own a charming little antiques shop, cut this out and put it on your refrigerator.

Then think twice.