By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
Bobby works at your local grocery store.
He started as a cart attendant, moved up to the register and was eventually rewarded with a managerial position. In no time, he had earned the respect of his peers and was quickly regarded as a man who knew the ins and outs of the grocery business.
One day while most of his co-workers were at lunch, Bobby decided to take a joy ride on the forklift in the stock room. As he made his way back to where the trucks were stored, he clipped the end of an aisle, causing an avalanche of pallets to rain down on him.
Bobby was immediately transported to the hospital. He had suffered a great deal of cosmetic damage but was released by doctors later that night. Sporting a bulky neck brace and gruesome bruises all over his head and face, he walked through the hospital doors with his wife by his side.
Come to find out, Bobby had not been alone in the forklift at the time of his accident, though he had told his supervisors otherwise. Video cameras placed in the stock room showed he had been accompanied by Patricia, a 19-year-old college student who worked in the deli. At numerous times during their joy ride, Bobby and Patricia had shown signs of intimacy, holding hands and appearing to sneak in a quick kiss or two.
After viewing the tapes, the higher ups at the grocery store had no choice but to fire Bobby. His incident was then leaked to the media by a former co-worker. What was left of his reputation — he had bolted from his cushy position at a big-name retailer after only 10 months before joining your local business — was gone in a heartbeat.
As supermarkets across the country endured all the joys and stresses of the holiday season, Bobby sat at home, waiting for an opportunity to get back in the game and regain the credibility he had lost at his last stop.
About that time, problems began to surface at a major competitor across town. After landing its first golden shopping cart since 1957 and garnering National Grocery Store of the Year honors just two years earlier, the company decided to dismiss its manager. The executives cited lack of control, lack of profit and lack of results since that award-winning year, deciding it would be best to move forward with a different person at the helm.
By now, most of the community was aware of Bobby’s indiscretions and subsequent dismissal. Knowing the success he had enjoyed at his previous place of employment, his name was frequently mentioned in discussions concerning who should replace the outgoing manager at the neighboring store.
To some, the decision was a no-brainer. Bobby could step right in, hire many of the assistant managers, cashiers and cart attendants he had remained close to from his previous shop and quickly get the store back in the national spotlight.
However, others contended hiring Bobby would set a terrible precedent. The store’s reputation wasn’t exactly squeaky clean — security heckled employees on a nightly basis, the produce never tasted as good as advertised and one assistant manager had a mustache that made many customers very uncomfortable — and adding Bobby’s baggage would only show they cared more about dollars and cents than the well-being of the grocery industry.
Knowing Bobby’s past, would you be OK with him taking over as the manager of your football team — ahem, grocery store?
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.