Well, even at my admittedly low level, everything seemed hunky-dory in my role as Coach for Sears Canada Catalog in the late Nineties. Even when new call centers like CIBC and Staples were starting to spring up and some of our staff were lured away by the promise of nutty things like mo' money and affordable benefits. Pfffft! Pretty fickle, huh?
But the majority remained, loyal to the company that had given them an opportunity back during the lean years of recession when it seemed as if there were no jobs in Nova Scotia at all.
Renewed rumors began to circulate for the first time since the Sears warehouse and distribution channel in Halifax closed down in 1992. The now decrepit building housing us was up for sale and speculation began to fly about the fate of the call center.
We were assured by the powers that be that our site was still doing gangbusters and, as such, our futures were secure. In their defense, there was a lot of evidence to back this up. In 1999 the three Sears Catalog call centers accounted for 25% of all company profits with our very own Atlantic site generated $860, 385,977 all by it's lonesome. Sweet jezum crow, that's a lotta pound cakes, valances and dickies!
Despite the fact that our staff saw little personal compensation despite the gross profits they generated for Sears, they were still selfless with their own meager earnings. Our employees donated generously to local charities. Personally I was very proud to be affiliated with an operation that raised almost $10,000 between the end of 1999 and the first quarter of 2000 just from staff efforts alone. The Special Olympics, Metro Food Bank, Kid's Help Phone, Coverdale Women's Shelters, Callow Wheelchair Buses, Salvation Army, Children's Wish Foundation, Christmas Daddies, Phoenix Youth Programs, and the Canadian Red Cross all benefited from having our call center in Halifax.
The scuttlebutt continued to the point that it began to negatively impact employee morale. When spirits were at their lowest during the Fall of 1999, the site managers at the call center decided in their infinite wisdom to create "Rudy the Rumor Buster", an ombudsman type arrangement whereby you could anonymously submit a rumor that you'd overheard on a official form to a suggestion box.
For those brave enough to fill the slot with one of these things (the box was nailed to the wall a mere eight feet away from the HR department) the site managers (who from here on in I'll refer to as "Mutt" and "Jeff") would retrieve it, rub their heads together, and then puzzle out the most effective way to BLATANTLY LIE TO OUR FACES THAT ALL THE RUMORS WERE FALSE.
Don't believe me? Think this rant is the fever dream of a paranoid delusional lunatic? Well, here's my proof:
That's right, folks. Drink it in! I'm tellin' you, man, if you need any more proof that truth is stranger than fiction, there it is in black and white starin' you right in the mush.
Through this Machiavellian device staff were blatantly misled by management as they read the replies that were posted. It's partly because of this that many people passed up job opportunities; convinced that their positions at Sears were secure, at least for the foreseeable future.
I think it goes without saying that every single rumor I ever saw posted up on that board eventually came true. The eventual purchase of the space by the Sobey's group, the Annex plans with Halifax Shopping Center, the complete lack of the company's effort to find us a new home in Halifax...everything.
Strap yourself in, Kiddies. From here on in we're in for a bumpy ride!
Next time on "You Can't Get There From Here":
- A surprise announcement looks promising...at face value
- I provide my own subversive answer to that lying f#@$% Rudy.
- For the first time ever I gag on the company Kool-Aid and vow never be a corporate mouthpiece ever again.
- Angry letters abound!
- The official story: Death By Interwebs!
EPIC: Promise me you'll watch this, Loyal Readers! Unlike "America's Next Top Mannequin" this is actually good for your brain...