Now depending on where you live, weather can and will be a factor in the world of retail. I have the fortune or misfortune depending on who you ask to live in the midwest, which means one thing: weather will be a factor.

It is possible that it could come in the form of dangerous storms, with high winds and hail; or it could come in the form of a tornado; or more than likely, it will come in the form of snow and ice and wind chills.

Everyone has seen the news when it says, that if you were smart, you would stay indoors; if you dont want to freeze to death, then stay in doors, which is good advice, unless you work for a company that does not close and does not believe in closing.

In the company handbook (yes, we are going to consult the handbook for such an occurrence) you will see the following:

In the case of inclement weather you are to do the following:

  • If your store is damaged by winds or floods, you must:
  • all the store and see if you are able to come to work (you are to do this even if your store has been blown across the state line. If you do not receive an answer right away, stay on the line and wait for someone to assist you. Again, this sounds funny, but I have seen stories about a tornado destroying a location and the workers being told to call in and see what it going on, or better yet, arrive at the wreckage and see if it is possible for you to do anything in the way of working there that day.)
  • If you are not able to work at your store, you must call this number and see to what location you are now required to report to in order to fulfil your scheduled hours.
  • failure to do so can result in either you being disciplined for not calling in or you can be charged¬†a sick day or a vacation day to recover those hours. It is your responsibility to remember that the company does and should come first and just because a flood took away your home or damaged your store, that will not be an acceptable excuse for not showing up to work; it is the duty of the employee to remember the customers and the shareholders when making their daily decisions.

If your store is buried by ice and snow and dangerous wind chills, you must:

  • Call the store and tell them of your current situation. It is important to remember that the store does not care if you are buried under 3 feet of snow or that the roads are not plowed, because that is your personal life and should not interfere with your professional life.
  • if your car will not start or cannot be dug out in a timely manner, it is your duty to take mass transportation or to hire an uber or get a ride from a friend or a co-worker; when you took the job you agreed to arrive at work on time and for each shift; it is not the responsibility of the company to figure out how you will get to work during a blizzard or icy conditions, that is your problem.

So, if you manage to dig out your car and leave for work on unplowed streets going 2 mph and finally making it to work, you will face the following:

  • You will be told to not drag snow into the building and if you do, it is your duty to make sure that it is cleaned and mopped up, with the proper wet floor signs put into place to prevent any customer slips or falls.
  • you will be expected to do your work and the work of anyone else who did not show up for work; just because the store is short staffed, does not mean that work still does not need to be done.
  • When your shift ends and the next shift has not arrived yet, you are to stay and work those hours until they arrive; the store still needs to run and customers still need to be taken care of, and it’s your duty to make sure that this happens. (It might sound funny, but it happened recently. My morning co-worker did not show up, so I did their work and then was able to do my own work and then when it was found out that the night crew had called in, it looked as if I should be the one to stay and work until someone did. Now this is the same company that does not want anyone to work overtime unless of course it is in the company’s best interest.

As a side note I should mention the time that we had a gas leak at work. My co-workers and I smelt gas and brought this to the attention of the store manager. He didn’t think that it was a big enough deal and told us to continue working. When the customers began to complain about the smell, he called the fire department. Those of us inside moved to cleaner air and waited to see what would happen next.

The fire department arrived and refused to go into the building that we had just left before they put on their masks and oxygen tanks. Funny, how it was okay for us to breathe in the gas but it was too dangerous for these rescue workers to do the very same thing. Once the crisis was avoided, we returned back to work and were told that our time outside should be considered a break because we were not doing any actual work when the fire crew was inside dealing with the gas.

Neither tornadoes or blizzards or sub zero icy temperatures, will stop the dedicated retail worker from doing his or her duty and provide their services that they swore to uphold and to protect.


Cover image courtesy of Brad Covington via Flickr