June 22, 2018 - karlosmarx72
The Juggler’s Jouissance
Life as a backroom closer is a harrowing experience. You get in at 1 pm on weekdays, 2 pm on the weekends. Without fail, the Ship From Store unit needs support, because just like your department, they are a team the size of a pack of starved coyotes, which used to abound in great numbers around the seasonal time, but has slowly but surely been shaved down to near extinction. The SFS unit is a great example of late capitalism, you surmise. The bosses keep gloating about how it’s going to expand, expand, expand — meanwhile, they exhaust and exploit the small team, haranguing them for missing a goal time, for having a shitty INF color. That’s the sinister thing about Target. They front like they give a shit about quality, but this a corporation after all. They must front like they prioritize quality. It is the dichotomy of care and exploitation at work which retail beautifully demonstrates. In reality, Target is only concerned about the numbers, about efficiency, about zombifying and thingifying, and using up their employees until they burst apart.
The vampires of capitalism always win.
The backroom closer is a juggler always dropping his objects while simultaneously being thrown new materials from the outside. It’s a joke. And the backroom closer must laugh to themselves, because Target is too invested in cutting costs to provide an environment in which the backroom closer could actually juggle comfortably. No- after using the first 3 or 4 hours of your shift helping pick and pack with an overwhelmed SFS unit, you can finally halfway turn your attention towards your own tasks: pulling the 1 o’clock CAF’s, which have been subsumed by the 3 o clock CAF’s. And just as you are in the thick of some 50 DPCI batch, there it goes. That incessant ding like rain water falling from some unseen cloud in the desert. An OPU. And by this time, all of the other Team Members/Leaders who know how to pick an OPU have gone home to recover, and so it’s just you, juggling. And the OPU is of course something ridiculous that the guest could have just gotten at their local liquor store like a thing of foil but no no, you are an entertainer, you must juggle for their amusement! You must pick the foil from the floor, wrap it in a Target bag and scan it in. You return to the backroom to finish the CAF’s finally and then you take your lunch. You return facing a slew of tasks: Price Change, Backroom Audit, Setting the Line. And no one helps.
Being a backroom closer is, as the late Mark Fisher wrote, the “normalization of crisis.” We become so inured to these things that we can’t imagine a way out, we accept Target for all its phony universalisms and corporate morality. Well, I say: I will juggle no more.