My Crazy Life—From Sales to Sheriff

Last time in The Voice Magazine, I wrote about how the Sears’ ladies lingerie department helped transform me into a gentleman, but today’s crazy Sears story revolves around the time I spent enforcing the law and being the store’s sheriff before Sears and I eventually grew apart.

Becoming known as the loss prevention king shortly after the “Occupy Wall Street” movement came to Ottawa.

As good as I was at handling the ladies’ lingerie, asking women about their lingerie shopping experience, and helping them sign up for our customer loyalty program, I was just as good at preventing the loss of profits.  What really drove me to be the best at stopping theft was the $25 bounty that I would collect for every time someone I had identified as being “sketchy” had attempted to steal.  All of this worked in my favor because I have never been in the business of making friends and always in the business of making money, so I became the number-one-ranked sales associate at foiling petty larcenists from harming our beloved department store.

The greatest number of thefts that I had helped foil in one month occurred during the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in Ottawa back in 2011, and the ridiculousness that followed suite during that period is comparable to the ridiculousness of the Trucker Convoy occupation, almost a decade later.  What made the Occupy Ottawa movement so ridiculous was that the protestors decided to take over Confederation Park, setting up over one hundred tents and with hundreds of protestors showing up everyday to the “Freedom Fountain”, in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement.  The park eventually became a place to celebrate marijuana too, similar to the annual event that was organized on Parliament Hill prior to the legalization of marijuana – but this celebration lasted for 40 consecutive days.

Although the Occupy Ottawa movement was a peaceful protest, I recall media reporting how both pedestrians and protestors were getting swarmed and mugged by small groups that were believed to be acting independent of the Occupy Ottawa movement, and who were targeting people in the vicinity of the park.  One passerby who decided to walk by the “no flex zone” ended up running into Sears and screaming for help.  Eventually, the media also started to report on the increasing number of fights at the park, how drug paraphernalia could be found all over the park, and that there were even reports of sexual assaults, which is when the Ottawa Police Services moved in and cleared it all out.

Now, throughout the duration of the Occupy Ottawa movement, it was not uncommon for security to thwart multiple thefts in a day, and I contributed to the thwarting of more than 25 thefts.  Although management was thrilled with my contributions, some of the other sales associates complained that I was getting all the rewards.  Management caved into their demands and screwed up a perfect situation, with the introduction of what I like to call “Anti-Alek” rules.  The “Anti-Alek” rules stated that the $25 bounty would be split between the first two people who called in and reported “sketchy” activity that led to the thwarting of a theft.  I refused to take the $12.50 when I called in second and I requested that I paid the full $25 when I called in first, but management said they were unable to accommodate me.  So, I decided to stop calling.  Although I am a gentleman and a humanitarian, I am not a charity, and I was not interested in splitting the bounty.

In my eyes, it was a “dog eat dog world” and I was a tiger, sort of like Montecore, and people were sort of starting to look like Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy.  The only other way I can elaborate on this analogy is by quoting Joe Exotic’s song “I Saw Tiger”, “Tell all the hunters to lay down their guns.  Tell ‘em that the tiger needs a little bit of love.  Let ‘em run the jungle, let ‘em roam their lands.  Then stand back and marvel, what a beautiful cat.  Cause I saw tiger.  Now I understand.  I saw tiger, and the tiger saw man.

Great coaches do not waste generational talents by prioritizing benchwarmers.

How is it that so many coaches are so great at wasting generational talents and ruining perfect situations? Well, that is the question I started to ask myself after the benchwarmers were successful at forcing yet another change, an “Anti-Alek” rule, that had to do with the recognition received by a sales associate when they helped a customer sign up for our loyalty program.  If a customer’s application for a credit card was approved, we were supposed to call switchboard and inform them of the application, and switchboard was supposed to make a store-wide announcement over the PA system which identified the sales associate by name and congratulated them for helping their customer to take advantage of our loyalty program.

The basis of the benchwarmers’ complaint was that switchboard was saying my name so frequently over the PA system that it was causing them to have migraines.  It caught me off-guard, only because hearing someone say, “Congratulations to Alek…”, was music to my ears, so I could not fathom it being anything but.  Although switchboard was in fact saying my name quite often, an average of 10 times during my eight-hour shift, they were not saying it because they liked me more, but rather because I was signing up that many customers during my shift.  My success drove other department managers to demand more out of their sales associates and pressure them to be more like “Alek”.

My primary reason for signing up customers for our loyalty program had to do with the payout system, $2 for an approved Sears card and $4 for an approved Sears Mastercard and half of that for declined applications, but I equally loved hearing switchboard make the store-wide announcement that congratulated me for putting the interests of our customers at the forefront.  However, management relented to the benchwarmers, with switchboard jumping on the benchwarmer bandwagon, saying that the constant congratulating was making their throats dry, and management succeeded at ruining another perfect situation.

Now, being a gentleman, I decided to be a good steward of talents and preserve the voices of switchboard staff by dialing the PA system code and congratulating myself, “Dear customers, We would like to congratulate Alek at the lower main cash for helping another customer take advantage of Sears’ loyalty program and helping them save money on their purchase.  If you are interested in learning more about the savings involved with Sears’ loyalty program, please visit the lower main cash, and ask for Alek.  Thank you for shopping at Sears and have a phenomenal day!” Although management thought the announcements were hilarious, the switchboard team started to complain, fearing that I might make them expendable.

As someone who will admit to having been a habitual line stepper, sort of like Rick James, I decided to take it one step further, taking it upon myself to announce various promotions over the PA system, in my late-night DJ voice and for which I received a mountain of compliments.  From what I recall, the sales of ladies’ lingerie and stiletto heels would spike whenever my voice reverberated across the entire store.  However, another “Anti-Alek” rule was instituted, and I was no longer allowed to do my own announcements over the PA system.  All of the “Anti-Alek” rules got me thinking about the best way to circumvent them, , so I decided to swap my nametag with various nametags that I had pulled out of the nametag box.

There was a total of 34 different nametags, and my nametag fun would only last for a few months.  During that time, I wore each nametag at least once, signing up customers for our loyalty program under each alias, until a female shopper called in to leave positive feedback about her experience with me.  The female shopper referred to me as “Justice”, the name on my nametag, but the problem was that management had told her that there was no one by that name who worked at Sears.  What followed next was a shit show, a total frenzy to identify this mysterious person named “Justice”.  When management learned that I was “Justice”, they were not too happy with my shenanigans.


Most of us know that in the absence of “Justice”, there can be injustice, and there was definitely injustice surrounding my paystubs.  A little after passing my two-year anniversary mark, I went back to look over my paystubs after another co-worker had complained about inconsistencies on their paystub.  When I looked over my paystubs, I noticed that almost every one of my paystubs had irregularities related to the payouts for credit card applications, a manual add-on that was done by the in-house HR team.  The problem that I was faced with was that I could only submit a claim for one month’s worth of “backpay paystub mistakes” and I was out of luck for anything that was outside of that period.  After seeing all the mistakes on my paystubs, I calculated them to be in excess of $4,000, which I had failed to spot out when they were issued to me because I was a trusting kid who was all-in on Sears.  So, I decided to set aside that Sears’ sheriff badge, and not long after that I chose to leave like a gentleman.

Leveraging my Sears experience.

Although I did end up getting shysted out of thousands of dollars while working at Sears, I left with two takeaways that had a significant impact on today’s version of me.  The first takeaway had to do with me becoming a gentleman and lingerie aficionado.  The second takeaway had to do with me learning to trust only as far as I could spit, and I can not spit very far.

However, my lingerie expertise is what has proved to be most valuable to me, and has also allowed me to invest in in companies that operate in the ladies’ lingerie industry that I identified as having a high upside.  Combining investing and ladies’ lingerie may one day be a lesson within the Gentlemen’s Gospel.

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