When the overnight flow team left our store at 1:30 AM this morning, people were starting to line up. I mean, what the hell? Lining up outside a Target at 2 AM--when the store opens four hours later--in order to get some bargains? Do people not have lives or something?
I have never understood the desire most people have to go shopping on this day anyway. All right, I understand that there are all kinds of sales and things, but to my way of thinking, the crowds and the hassle are just not worth it. My admittedly limited experience with the throngs of Black Friday shoppers has demonstrated that much to me; any mall or shopping center is no place to be for anyone who has limited patience with stupid people.
In my family, the tradition for the day after Thanksgiving is to stay home. I like it that way.
BUT today I don't have a choice, since I am scheduled to work tonight. I plan to arrive at the store around 7 or 8 PM in order to do some more manual CAFs, because you just know that our pulls are going to be beyond belief. Wednesday night they would have been well over 2,000 if manual CAFs had not been done; and even so they were over 1,400. I don't expect tonight to be an easy night.
Wednesday night we had thirty pallets of freight in the back room. There was a mob of people back there--for once!--and I stayed until 7:30 on Thanksgiving day to help get it all put away.
In fact, we have had two trucks every night this week--Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday--except Thursday, when there was no truck. The original plan was for eleven trucks this week, with Saturday being the lone single, but I am wondering if that will happen, or if we'll end up taking an additional truck. A rumor floated around about Friday being a triple but I suspect that our new and improved distribution center, which is in DeKalb, would prefer to hold to its stated goal of trying to avoid ever sending more than two trucks per night.
But I do expect a few triples this holiday season. Now that the Democrats have won control of Congress, now we are hearing about how well the economy is doing. Wages are up, etc, etc.... Basically everything I've known all along is now actually being reported by the mainstream media. It's going to be a hell of a holiday season for retailers, if the trains are any guide--every time I've been stopped by a freight train lately, it's been half a mile of shipping containers. They're moving a lot of merchandise.
According to the November issue of Trains, over the past five years the "fourth-quarter peak"--the time when railroad traffic rises to its peak for the year--has actually started in August or even late July. These things are not indicative of a poorly-managed economy, and in fact it means that things are hopping along quite nicely...and have been, for years, not just since November 7th, 2006.
From now until Christmas it's foregone conclusion that sales will exceed $200,000 per day; and that means we'll be selling stuff; and the stuff we sell will leave empty shelves which need filling. And that's where the overnight logistics team comes in.
Every box that comes off those trucks carries with it a little bit of job security, and I like that just fine.
So figure two trucks, probably around 2,000 cases each; figure pulls at 1,500 even with manual CAFs--maybe more!--and I'm coming in at 7 PM, and probably staying until 7 AM--whee!
My primary criterion for staying late, when I'm in the back room, is that there be enough people in the back room. If we are properly staffed, I'll stay; if we are not, I'll give up and go home when my shift is over. Tonight is an "all hands on deck!" situation--no one gets today off!--and so there will be plenty of bodies there to get the work done. There will be plenty of work to be done, too; so I expect to stay late.
Right now I'm at 67 hours for the pay period. Because of how things work, I can reasonably expect to get at least another 14 hours before the end of the pay period, which will put me right at 81 hours. But I worked 9.5 hours on Thanksgiving Day, which should be paid at 1.5 my normal pay rate.
I will probably work another 20 hours at least before I get to go home on Sunday morning--Sunday is my next day off--but the pay period ends at 11:59 PM on Saturday night, so the hours I work Sunday morning will count for the next paycheck. That's not all bad as it makes it easier to build up a big check for the next pay period, too.
Further bulletins as events warrant.