Hazardous Duty . . . OSHA Required


When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It’s a whole different way of thinking. ~Elayne Boosler

When ever I have an extended business trip to the US, my wife and daughter push handwritten shopping requests into my briefcase as I walk out the door.  Some things, particularly for the teenage population, are just more plentiful and better stocked than in London, and then there is the currency exchange difference.

So, on this trip, my list included J. Crew, Abercrombie and Hollister.  Fortunately, I was headed to a big city this trip and a quick search on the internet, conducted for me by those most anxious for their goodies (complete with maps and directions), located all three stores in one large shopping mall close to my hotel.  No excuses this time! Even if the weather is 8 degrees F (-13 C) and snowing.

j-crew-store-custom2So, this morning I did my duty.  First stop, J. Crew for some Tissue Turtleneck T-shirts.  Lo and behold, they were on sale. 50% off and all the right colours.  I must say it was a delight shopping at J. Crew.  A very friendly sales person, age fitting the age of the customers, well dressed, knowledgable and very helpful, guided me to the right spot, helped with the sizes, and I was in and out in a flash.  I buy, I don’t shop!  And the background music was comfortable and appropriately hushed.

Next stop, Abercrombie.  As I approached the store from the escalator across the mall I abercrombie_fitchknew this was going to be a different experience.  The store was dark (can’t they afford a lighting bill?) but the music was blaring (guess all the lighting budget is diverted to mega-concert speakers with a million watts output!). I felt like I was inside a boom box or one of those dark windowed low-rider cars that cruise by with the music loud and the subwoofer blowing out the storefront windows. It was deafening inside that store, and to make it worse, definitely not my style of music (no classical concertos here).

I yelled twice at a very young sales person before getting a response.  After more shouting I was shown to a sales rack which had a few of the items on my list. I looked at the jumble of items, turned around to ask for assistance, but he had disappeared into the thumping darkness of the store.  I knew I needed to work fast before my ears began to bleed!

After finding the few items I ran towards the check-out desk, which was smack in the center of the store, where all the sound tended to collide and course through my body like vibratory lightning.  I yelled (nicely) at the sales clerk to please turn down the music, as I couldn’t hear what she was saying as she was ringing up my purchases.

Her response, loudly, was that they were not allowed to touch the music or volume, it was preset by the “company”.  She admitted it was pretty loud, even for her young ears and tastes.

After an acoustic bludgeoning, I escaped into the calm serenity of the mall, but my ears Kamatchatka-420x0were still ringing as I headed for the parking level. Mission accomplished, but next time I’m bringing the earplugs I use when riding in old Russian M1-8 orange and blue helicopters when fishing in Russia for salmon and trout. These ear plugs block out all noise, and even some light!

What is the “business strategy” behind this form of adult torture? Don’t they want adults in the store? It seems to me they are driving away a large segment of the population with the dollars to pay for their merchandise, and it’s not cheap, either. And to not allow the sales staff to adjust the volume?

Am I just getting old and cranky or is this something the management team thinks is conducive to shopping and spending money? Don’t answer that!

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress


About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
This entry was posted in corporate culture, Human Psychology, John R Childress, John's views on the world, Organization Behavior, parenting, Psychology, strategy execution and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Hazardous Duty . . . OSHA Required

  1. Pingback: The 3rd Deadly Sin of Poor Leadership . . . | John R Childress . . . Rethinking

  2. Pingback: The 3 Deadly Sins of Poor Leadership: Part 3 | John R Childress . . . Rethinking

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