I flew to Tennessee on Tuesday morning to meet Andrew at the new store. We were going on a four day tour of all the stores I would be taking over so I could meet everyone. Andrew was nice enough to pick me up from the airport in his rental and we loaded my bags in. On the car ride there, Andrew asked how I was adjusting to the new job. I told him I was fine but there was a lot that I still needed to learn and adapt to. He agreed and said I would get it over time. Then he was like, “But other than that, how are you?”
I assumed this meant like generally in life so I again said that I’m fine and glad to get out of the Chicago cold and etc. I wasn’t about to go into detail about my personal life with Andrew because last time I did that, he mocked me for it.
But then he was like, “What does your boyfriend do?”
“Um, he’s a pharmacist,” I said.
“Nice! So you’ve got a smart one.”
“I guess you could say that.”
“Long term relationship?”
“Mmmmm,” I started. I really, really didn’t want to get into this with Andrew. I was being nice enough by answering his questions, but I just don’t want him knowing too much about my personal life.
Luckily for me, his cell phone rang and he answered it. From the sounds of it, it was his boss who wanted to talk sales and numbers and stuff. Then he was all like, “I have Reese here. She says hello and she’s so excited to visit the new store.”
I didn’t say any of that at all, but whatever.
We went straight from the airport to the store which was still a couple days away from the grand opening. I met the manager, who I’d interviewed over the phone and a few of the other employees who were all working on merchandising the store. Andrew and I went to the back office to work for a couple of hours. He wanted to go over sales reports and talk about stuff like average dollar sale, sales per hour, average unit retail, margin, etc. We didn’t talk about a lot of that at my old job, but I jotted down a ton of notes to make sure I was getting it.
We stepped out to grab a quick lunch where we continued to talk about numbers and sales. It was kind of exhausting having to use my brain that much. He kept asking questions like, “So the sales projection for the quarter for this store is $x, how much should each sales person be responsible for?” And, “If we want an average of $x spent per transaction, how many units would that be?”
Like I don’t fucking know. I suck at math. When we got back to the store, we helped set up the merchandise and then we did a store walk through. I pulled out the special Kate Spade notebook I got just for work and started taking notes. We got to a particular shelf that had some tote bags, picture frames, bookends, and other knick knacks in it.
“Now Reese, after reading those store documents and what we’ve talked about, what do you see wrong with this presentation?” Andrew asked me.
“Um.” I felt put on the spot and suddenly couldn’t think of anything I’d read about. “Well, I think it looks nice. Is the color story off?”
Andrew stared at me blankly. “Uh, no.”
“Okay, well it seems kind of odd for the totes to be displayed with the picture frames and stuff. Maybe we could put something else here.”
“Reese, why don’t you go back to the office and actually read the manuals I gave you?” Andrew said, sounding exasperated. “There’s some stuff I really need you to know in there.”
“Okay,” I said and just stood there. Andrew and the manager just stared at me and I realized that he was serious.
I spun around and marched back to the office. And then, y’all won’t believe this, but I just started bawling. I’m not used to sucking at my job like that and I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. But just as quickly as I started crying, I stopped. I needed to figure this out. I pulled my work binder out of my bag and started skimming until I found out exactly what was wrong with the presentation. The picture frames and tote bags were a part of the company’s inhouse brand while the bookends were from an outside designer. The inhouse brand should never be displayed with other brands. Duh. No wonder Andrew yelled at me. That was an easy one.
I pulled myself back together and walked back out there, ready to prove that I wasn’t an idiot. Andrew and a really short girl were trying to lift a shelf and she was on her tip toes about to the drop it.
“Reese, can we get a hand over here?” Andrew called and I rushed over to avert the impending disaster.
So we spent the next four hours or so doing manual labor around the store. By the time we got to our hotel, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I got to my room, dropped my things by the door, and collapsed face first onto the bed. And then I cried, again. What a shitty day. If this was how it was going to be then I wasn’t cut out for it and I needed to talk to Diana about getting my old job back. After I showered and got ready for bed, I even looked up flights to go back to Chicago on Wednesday.
But after a moment, I realized how ridiculous I was being. I could do this. I just needed to take it more seriously. I could tell that once I was trained and ready to take over the stores on my own, I would really like it.
When I woke up I had a text from Brady letting me know that he missed me. I hadn’t even had time to think about how much I missed him too. While I quickly got ready to take on the day, I realized how much I was dreading it. The day’s itinerary was: go back to the new store for a few hours, drop Andrew’s rental off then fly to the next store to visit. I was annoyed and tired just thinking about it.
I grabbed my phone and headed downstairs to grab a quick bite from the complimentary breakfast buffet. On my way out the door, I texted Brady, “I need to talk to you.”
To my surprise, he called me a few minutes later.
“Hi,” I said solemnly.
“Hey. Is everything okay?” he asked.
I realized that my choice of words and now solemn voice probably made it sound like something bad had happened and that’s why he called so quickly.
“It’s fine,” I said. “I’m just so fucking over this. Andrew is a complete asshole and goes out of his way to make me look bad.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. What happened?”
“He like expects me to know everything already. Yesterday he asked me this question in front of everyone and when I didn’t know it, he made me feel like shit about it. Like, dude. I just started. And the way he talks to me is just so degrading. He’s unprofessional and he’s inconsiderate and I really just want to come home!”
I stopped dead in my tracks because I’d arrived at the breakfast buffet and Andrew was sitting right by the door. And he was looking at me. Shit. Did he hear me? He smiled and waved so I assumed he didn’t.
“Anyway, how are you?” I said quickly into the phone. “Why aren’t you at work?”
“I am at work,” Brady answered. “But I stepped out to call you. Your message worried me.”
I apologized for making him worry and told him that I would let him get back to work. He said it was okay and then he was like, “Don’t allow him to intimidate you, Reese. You’re much stronger than that.”
And that was the only pep talk I needed. Before we hung up, Brady said, “I love you,” and I felt weird saying it back since Andrew was still right there.
So I just said, “You too.” I hope that doesn’t make me a bitch.
Anyway, I had a much better day on Wednesday. I didn’t let Andrew intimidate me and I asked a ton of questions and took notes and felt like I was starting to grasp things. When we did the store walk through at the second store, I was even pointing out things that were out of place. And Andrew was being nicer.
On Wednesday afternoon, we got a rental car and drove about forty minutes to the third store and did a short walk through. Then we checked into our hotel and were flying to the next store in the morning. Thursday we flew to the next store, walked through it, visited a third party vendor, worked on some paperwork at a coffee shop then we flew to the city of the final store. When we got there it was around 9:00 PM and Andrew offered to treat me to dinner. He invited the manager of the store we were visiting the next morning and we met her at a little Italian restaraunt.
I didn’t know what to expect. Were we going to talk about business all night? Should I bring all my notes? But it turned out to be really chill. Andrew ordered a bottle of wine and we all just talked. I found out that Andrew has a girlfriend who works in PR and just moved to Chicago from New York City. So he said he’s in Chicago a lot. Andrew actually seemed like a real person when he was telling us about his girlfriend. The manager, Kristen, seemed really interested in knowing about their relationship and how they were handling long distance. She was asking a lot of questions that I kind of didn’t need to know the answer to. We also talked about college and the previous jobs we’ve had. Andrew has a background in sales and had a ton of stories about how he met millionaires and celebrities. Kristen was eating it up.
Toward the end of dinner, we were all kind of full and tipsy from the wine. Andrew suddenly said, “Reese, I know you probably think I’m being unreasonably hard on you.”
I looked at him apprehensively. “Uh, yeah.”
“Just like your employees are a reflection of you, you’re a reflection of me. So I’m going to push you. And I want you to push yourself and your team. I’m used to being the best.”
“That’s fair,” I said honestly.
“I have high standards, Reese, and you should too. Once you see that all of your bonuses and raises and reviews depend on the performance of your team, you’ll see why I am the way I am.”
I nodded. I guess it makes sense. It doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s an asshole to me though.
We had to wake up early on Friday morning to do a quick store visit then we got lunch and flew back to Chicago. Andrew was visiting his girlfriend for the weekend and said that if we had a chance, we should meet up to go over the sales reports. I made sure I was “busy” all weekend.
When I got back to Chicago, I got my car and drove directly to Brady’s. It was early afternoon so he was obviously still at work, but I just missed him and wanted to be there when he got home. Chris was home though and let me in. I got inside and took the longest shower ever then I got in Brady’s bed and fell asleep. I didn’t realize how tired I was until I fell asleep in just a towel while scrolling through Instagram.
I woke up later that evening when I heard something. It was Brady, trying to quietly get undressed from work.
“Hey!” I squealed. I was so fucking excited to see him after the week I had.
“Hey! I didn’t want to wake you,” he said and I jumped up to hug and kiss him. Literally love him.
Naturally we ended up having sex right away then laid in bed and I complained about work. The last day or two of the trip was actually fine, but I really just wanted Brady to tell me how amazing I am. Not sorry. He said he worked a ton that week too so we were both super tired. We fell asleep early and had brunch on Saturday morning.
I got dinner and drinks with Carly on Saturday night. I vented to her about how Kendra couldn’t even free up some time to hang out with me even though I was gone all week.
“I get that her job is important or whatever, but it’s just fucking rude,” I complained while shoving my face with sushi.
“Oh yeah!” Carly exclaimed. “I have something to tell you, but you have to promise not to say anything!”
“Okay,” I said.
“Seriously!” Her eyes widened and she leaned super close. “If you tell Kendra I told you, she won’t ever speak to me again.”
“Carly. Just tell me.”
“Okay, well I went to Kendra’s on Tuesday night for dinner and when I was leaving her apartment, I ran into John. He was walking in when I was walking out and he had like an overnight back so obviously he planned on staying.”
“Oh my gosh,” I groaned.
“I know! And then I texted Kendra like, ‘I just saw John, are you hanging out with him?’ And she’s all, ‘We just want to talk. Don’t tell Reese!'”
Which is rude. Why wouldn’t she want me to know? It’s not like I’m going to judge her for talking to her cheating loser ex whose existence she really shouldn’t acknowledge.
Anyway, I was still so tired on Saturday night that I just went to Brady’s and passed out in his bed while he and Chris smoked. I’m technically supposed to be off today, but Andrew keeps pestering me with emails and I feel guilty not replying. I have to go back to Tennessee tomorrow, but luckily Andrew don’t be there so I’ll actually get to work on my own.