I wrote this essay for my English 101 class that I’m taking this summer. I had to take the class because UW Tacoma doesn’t take AP credits lower than a 4 or 5. It had to be about some time when you experienced a hard-learned lesson.
I’m a dog groomer. I bathe dogs for a living at the Petco Grooming Salon. I have to smell like wet dogs all day in my very stylist waterproof Petco smock. Where in that job description does it say that I have to be a solicitor? That’s the thing—it doesn’t.
Petco hired me about two months ago right at the end of my freshman year in college, and I’ve enjoyed my job very much since I started working there. My co-workers are all really easy-going…well, with the exception of one person. The Man has a name, and her name is Mary.
Mary is my grooming manager, and she just got back from maternity leave in the middle of May. I worked at Petco for about a week before she came back to work, and I wish every day that she still was pregnant. Mary likes to take advantage of the bathers—those of us that don’t actually cut the dogs’ hair, and get paid $8.07 an hour with 40% commission—opposed to the pet stylists—those that don’t have to answer the phone so much, that get 60% commission with over ten dollars an hour. Numerous times Mary has made me clean at least one of her dogs before she actually cut their hair, and I’ve not argued with her because she’s my manager—I don’t want to get fired. But Lori and Glynda, two of my co-workers, have told me constantly that I don’t have to wash her dogs. I don’t get commission for them, so I’m not obligated to do her dogs for her.
However, probably the worst part about Mary is that she strongly enforces the Book-A-Bath rule. Book-A-Bath is a new policy that Petco has come up with for the grooming salon to make phone calls to people who haven’t brought their dogs in for a groom in over 8 weeks and we give them a discount for it. As soon as I heard about this new practice, I thought, “this sounds an awful lot like soliciting.” Exactly, it is soliciting. It is soliciting dog grooms to loyal customers. I hang up on those kinds of phone calls, and I didn’t want to be someone who gets hung up on. I wasn’t the only one with that logic.
Kelly, another of my co-bathers, started working at the salon about a month before I did, and she was my favorite person to work with because she was so relaxed about everything. And I think everyone should be kind of relaxed at my work because we work with dogs all day—how uptight can you be with a dog? Even though Mary made all us bathers do Book-A-Bath calls daily, Kelly rebelled. She found something else to do every day other than making those phone calls. After a couple of weeks of dodging Mary’s rules, she got fed up with Mary telling her what to do. Now, that may not be the best way to keep your job, but Kelly was ahead of Mary with that. She just quit. She quit on the principle of ethics. Solicitation is not what we were hired to do, and Kelly realized that early on. We were hired to wash dogs.
Book-A-Bath has also been a way for Annette, another of my co-workers, to keep her job. Mary’s used it as a tool of manipulation. Annette is Vietnamese, and has a hard time with English, and I’ve come to recognize that. I’ve been around enough non-English-speaking people to know that English is a hard language. Mary doesn’t seem to realize this, and she doesn’t help Annette, who does a very good job at bathing her dogs, but she takes three times as long as the rest of us bathers. She just lets Annette go on doing what she’s doing, and now she’s gone as far as telling Annette that she would be fired if she didn’t make 100 Book-A-Bath calls this week. Making those phone calls rarely result in an appointment, maybe 10% of the time. It’s not worth it, and the worst part about those calls is the risk of calling someone whose dog has died. I’ve made one of those calls, and Annette did as well. But when she called the person with the deceased dog, that person burst into tears and became hysterical. No one wants to do Book-A-Baths, and Mary has forced Annette to make 100 of those calls to keep her job. It just doesn’t seem right to me, but I don’t want Annette to get fired.
Even though I completely disagree with the principle behind the Book-A-Bath phone calls, I have to do it. I don’t want to get fired, because I need the money. And if that means obeying Mary’s every rule, then so be it. I’d like to stick it to The Man, but The Man is controlling my paycheck.