Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The McDowell Chronicles Book 2: Marketing Strategies

Editor's note: The following is actually a true story. Rainy actually sent this e-mail to his actual boss. This editor is amazed he still has an actual job. Also, Rainy is actually awesome. He has not – as many would have you believe – been surgically enhanced to be more awesome.

First of all, the boring stuff. At the end of every shift at Jimmy John's we have to send out an email with a brief description of how the shift went, how it could've gone better, what went well, etc. After a day in which we spent more on employees than we made by selling sandwiches, I sent out the following email:

"I know there's no way it'll happen, but it's seriously worth considering running only one store over the summer. Pooling all of the employees at one store would ensure that when it got busy there would be ample employees to cover the business, while also cutting the cost of just having a store open in half. As is our labor is very high with only two people in the store, and if we actually got busy the service we would provide with only two people certainly wouldn't be "freaky fast." Why run two people at each store when we could just as easily run 4 people at one store and actually provide decent service? "

I got a reply to this email from the Area Manager. His email in full is below:

" You know rainey I appreciate you trying to help ius save money, but more importantly what are you doing to help us grow more in sales? Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device "

Since he clearly skimmed over my email and couldn't be bothered to spell my name correctly (which is at the end of my email AND in my email address), I replied with this:

"Actually, I’m really glad you asked. I remember a while ago you told me that the shift manager sets the example for his employees. I’ve been trying to set a good example, working at making sandwiches more quickly, always giving great blowaway greetings and farewells, creating a friendly line of conversation with customers, generally just making Jimmy John’s a fun place for customers and employees alike.

In fact, just the other night I was working with Nicole and she failed to give a customer who came in a blowaway greeting. I dragged Nicole across the store by her hair, turned on the meat slicer, and held her face so close to the blade that… well… let’s just say I don’t think she’ll forget to give a blowaway greeting next time. The customer bolted for the door shrieking, “People will know about this! I’m telling everyone about the kind of business you’re running here!” =) His friends will tell their friends who will tell their friends etc. etc. We might even get some police involved in this. Can you imagine the buzz around town if Jimmy John’s was cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape? There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?

(On an unrelated note: Nicole recently quit. I wish her the best in future pursuits)

I’m right in the middle of a new marketing scheme I’ve been working on in my spare time. I didn’t want to tell anyone about it for legal reasons you’ll soon understand, but nevertheless, here it is:

Recently, I was thinking to myself... What do people absolutely hate?… … …

Bingo! People absolutely hate being attacked by vicious cougars!

Then to contrast this, I thought… What do people who are being attacked by vicious cougars absolutely love?… … …

Of course! People who are being attacked by vicious cougars absolutely love not being attacked by vicious cougars!

With this information in mind I set about on one of the most ingenious marketing strategies ever attempted. I began saving up each of my paychecks in order to fund the endeavor. Asking for help from Jimmy John’s would be foolish, because I understand that the burden of increasing sales lies solely in the actions of the shift manager. After moving out of my apartment and living on the streets for several weeks I had saved up enough money to begin. During my time living in the gutter, I decided that it wasn’t enough to increase our business… a competing sandwich shop should suffer in the process. Push our enemies down in order to better pull ourselves up.

I’m sure you know exactly what I did next, and I’m willing to bet you wish that you’d thought of it first. Cougars… check. Subway shirts… check. Van… check. Unsuspecting public… check.

The Subway shirts fit on the cougars much more easily than expected. After loading them into the van, I enraged them by taunting them with raw meat while I blared death metal over the van’s tinny sound system. As I unloaded them in parks and playgrounds and other heavily populated areas, I was shocked at how relentlessly they pursued anyone in the vicinity. Men, women, and children’s distressed cries filled the air, “Why Subway? Why would you unleash vicious cougars?!” “ Subway! Don’t you realize people absolutely hate this?!” and my personal favorite, “See you in hell, Jared!” I had devastated Subway’s business and maimed some innocent people in the process.

Starting next week, I’ll be handing out Jimmy John’s cougar repellent and restaurant menus everywhere the cougars terrorized. Expect sales to skyrocket soon. People will know that Jimmy John’s cares about “rogue” cougar attacks, and provides freaky fast sandwiches.

Author's Note: Surprisingly, I haven't been fired yet. In fact, he didn't even respond to the email. If you read this far, thanks! I love you. Yes, you, gentle reader. Seeya!


Photo illustration by Chimaera. Image of cougar is by Tim Knight and is courtesy of Brightest Young Things.

The McDowell Chronicles: The True Adventures of a Jimmy John's Shift Manager

The following harrowing tales are written by the gifted scribe and sandwich master Rainy McDowell.


Book 1: Thor's Hammer

Author's note: The only real people in this story are me and Alex McRaniels. I should note again to you JJ's people, that the Alex in this story isn't Alex Awtry.

Thor is a badass Nordic god with a hammer that can shoot lightning. He is automatically better than your god because he spends his time fighting giants with a hammer and looking awesome. I learned this from a rather unexpected source.

Enter the prophet.

Working in a sandwich shop, I deal with the same kinds of people every single day. There’s the over made-up sorority girls who order a turkey sandwich, the generic frat guys who order a turkey sandwich, and of course, there’s the crazy guys who preach about Thor … and order a turkey sandwich.

It all starts in the middle of a pretty boring run of the mill shift, when Loki enters. (I don’t remember his name. So for the sake of this story, his name is Loki) Immediately, I am wary of this guy. He looks like Stephen Baldwin would look if he was unshaven, unshowered, and had been training for some kind of bumfighting tournament. He has on a black hoodie, and there is some drool or spit on his chest. His speech is slurred, and I can barely understand anything he is saying. After a few moments I get that he’s asking for a turkey sandwich. No problem. He pays for the turkey sandwich and sits down at a booth and begins eating while I make his sandwich. That’s right. He begins eating something while I make the only thing that he purchased. I finish making the sandwich and walk out to hand it to him when I see an oatmeal raisin cookie lying on the floor in the lobby. Putting my detective skills to work, I deduce that the cookie he is eating came from that very wrapper. Not wanting to confront this crazy fool by myself, I decide to let it slide. Hey, I’m not getting stabbed by some crazy guy over a cookie. Oh yeah, did I mention I’m alone? Cause, yeah. I am. Well, alone with Loki, naturally.

But Rainy, why are you alone? You ask.

I’ll tell you.

While I’m dealing with Loki, My manager trainee Padawan, Alex, is escorting my least favorite employee ever to a nearby drugstore. (To be nice, I’ll refrain from using her real name and will refer to her as the sludgebeast for the rest of the story) While the sludgebeast is generally ill-tempered and unpleasant to be around, they are also afraid to walk alone when it is dark outside. I certainly wasn’t going to go with her, so unfortunately for Alex, he was the only remaining option. It turns out that it was that special time of the month and the sludgebeast assured me that if she didn’t get any feminine products, we would all be drowning in a sea of her sludge before the night was over. Fair enough. You win this round sludgebeast.

Meanwhile, Loki is enjoying his turkey sandwich and cookie when another customer comes in to order… wait for it… a turkey sandwich! This guy looked to be East Indian, something that wouldn’t have come to mind if it weren’t for all of the awful things that Loki had to say about him after he had left. This guy had set something off inside of Loki. He had worked himself up into frenzy, ranting to himself about other cultures, religion, and Thor knows what else. (As a side note, Loki also has a drink at this point. Your guess is as good as mine) I’m starting to wonder why Obi-Wan and the sludgebeast are taking so long to get back from the drugstore.

Loki stands up.
He’s going to leave. Good.
Loki walks back to the register to talk to me.
Alright, I’m game. Let’s talk.
Loki reaches into the front pocket of his hoodie.
Now my brain jumps into overtime. I’m thinking, “This is bad. Is he going to rob me at gunpoint? Maybe knifepoint? He’s already stolen a cookie and a drink (stealthily). He’s crazy and angry since that Indian guy was here, maybe he’ll just shoot/stab first and then leave. Why don’t you have security cameras you stupid shitty restaurant?!” My eyes are glued to the hand in his pocket when he pulls out…

An oatmeal raisin cookie.

I let out an inaudible sigh of relief.

I look back up to him and give him a slight laugh and a look that expressed my sentiment of “Dude, really? What the hell?” Before I can say, “Dude, really?” he spits out a line that I can’t help but laugh at.

L: “You gave me this.”
Me: “I’m pretty sure I didn’t.”
L: “You gave me this.”
Me: “Ok, well if I did, I didn’t mean to.”

I take the cookie from him and put it back, at which point, our conversation takes a turn for the unexpected. He grabs the gold pendant (amulet of power) around his neck and holds it out to me, asking me if I know what it is. I don’t. So, he tells me, “Thor’s Hammer.”

L: “Do you know of Thor?”
Me: “Vaguely”

He then proceeds to tell me all about how Thor is the only true god, and I quickly realize that the job of a prophet of Thor is to talk all kinds of shit about the other gods. This dude is out there, I mean, he’s gone at this point. He’s talking a mile a minute, but I get a basic idea of what he’s saying. (Thor is Awesome) After his empowering endorsement he stops and stares at me for several moments. I had lost track of what he was saying completely by that point, but I got the feeling that I was supposed to give some kind of input. I start to give him a really slow nod, as if to say, “I never thought of that, but totally, yeah man, hell yeah.” Before I can get this nod going he reaches back into his pocket and pulls out a silver “Thor’s Hammer” and puts it in my hand. With this, he says, “I want you to have this.” I take it, because, well, I don’t want to offend Loki or Thor… plus, free amulet of power! Score.

Just in time to not save me, the sludgebeast and her captor waltz back into the store. Immediately I sense that Thor’s prophets are a natural enemy of the sludgebeast. Loki is back on the oatmeal cookie tangent again, picking one back up and telling me, “You gave me this.” The sludgebeast takes up a queen bitch attitude and interjects with, “Sir. Did you pay for this?”

*** At this point I must interrupt the story with a precautionary message. The following events are pretty graphic, so if you have a heart condition or are easily startled, I advise you to stop reading now. Also if for some reason you are reading this story to a small child or a group of small children, I would recommend you also skip the ending of this story. ***

*** The following events happened exactly as I have written. They have not been exaggerated or embellished in any way. ***

Upon being interrogated by the sludgebeast, Loki grew several feet taller and was engulfed in a heavenly amber light aura. If there was a bumfight tournament to be won, he was prepared to crush opposing bums into a fine powder. He had retained his bummish rugged looks, but gained the bulk to fight any man or beast that threatened. The sludgebeast showed its true form as well. Its skin turned a dark brownish green color and it slumped down to rest on its four legs. Razor sharp quills and claws sprouted from her body. The supernatural pair filled a majority of the lobby. Alex and I jumped for cover behind the cold table to avoid damage from the battle that was soon to ensue.

While we were unable to see much of the battle, let me assure you that the sound was deafening. After several minutes of fighting, I peaked over the table to see Loki hurling the sludgebeast against a wall near the back of the store. He was badly wounded from the quills lining her body, but this move allowed him to catch his breath just long enough for his final attack. Seizing the amulet in his hand, Loki shouted, “By the power of Thor’s Hammer, DEMON BE VANQUISHED!”

A blinding light filled the area. The sludgebeast’s body ripped apart at the seams and exploded, covering the store in slabs of dark greenish brown flesh and sludge. The store was safe again. We hadn’t had a customer in at least thirty minutes. Alex and I thanked Loki for his assistance and watched as he summoned two maidens before riding into the twilight on a White Unicorn. Two masculine, but beautiful, Nordic women cleaned and repaired the lobby of the store before returning to Valhalla or something. I think that’s about it. We had a pretty good close that night.

And yes, I still have the amulet.


Image courtesy of Hayman Celtic Jewelry.

Thursday, May 22, 2008