In June of 2007, I was making awesome money at Nordstrom as a salesperson in the “Rail” (a department catering to bros and hip, young aspiring UFC fighters.) I would show up to work and happily assist people with tons of money select the perfect pair of $300 True Religion jeans to go with their $100 7-Diamonds button-up. I would make anywhere between $100-$600 a day in commission and I actively led my department in sales volume, as well as sales per hour.
I was initially hired by my good friend Rick who lured me out of the medical field (I was an EMT at the hospital adjacent to Nordstrom), and immediately became successful at selling jeans to rich people. After about 6 months, my friend Rick got promoted to a bigger store, and a new manager (Sammy) took over. I’m not going to sugarcoat this; Sammy was a bitch. But she was cool to hang out with on occasion.
Her boyfriend dumped her a couple months into her tenure as our manager, so she started going out to the bars with me. We would hangout, drink together, and keep each other company. We became pretty good friends. In fact, there was a time where she got absolutely shit-faced drunk and coked-out at the bar, and couldn’t drive home, so I let her crash on my couch. We were both supposed to open the store the following morning, but she was too hungover to move, so I opened the department (unloaded 10 boxes [200+ items] worth of jeans and shirts and organized the floor with the new product – a task that usually takes 2-3 people 2 hours to complete.) When our store manager asked me where she was, I covered for her and said she was stuck in traffic.
This was the beginning of the end for me.
Rumors began to swirl that Sammy was an alcoholic, and partied too hard. It was a known fact amongst managers that she had a bad cocaine problem, and it was affecting her performance at work. She would show up to work late (and hungover), and often leave early (after ingesting tons of coke in her office.) The department’s sales started to sag (which was no fault of my own – as I actively led the department in sales at this time), and upper management put the heat on Sammy. She was informed that two employees needed to be fired to “make an example” to the other sales people that no one was safe – and that top production was mandatory.
I came into work one Friday and saw that I had a meeting scheduled with the store manager. She called me into her office and notified me that I was on track to become a “Pace-Setter” (the highest selling associate in the department, which guaranteed a raise in pay if I kept the sales coming.) I was stoked. I had just purchased a new vehicle, and was moving into a brand new apartment at the beach that very weekend. Things were good.
Then Saturday came. I rolled into work as usual, hoping to make $500 (the average commission one would expect to make on a Saturday), and was immediately called up to HR (the dreaded Human Resources Department.) I saw the HR manager sitting in a dark, intimidating interrogation room next to my manager Sammy. I wondered what the hell was going on.
“Leduque”, she said, “I’m going to have to term you.”
I responded with, “Term me? What does that mean?”
“I’m sorry. You’re fired.”
I sat there in stunned silence. “What the hell!?”, “Is this some sort of joke?”, I thought.
Nope. It wasn’t a joke. The stupid bitch canned me. She was scared that I would rat her and her alcoholic, coke-snorting, stock boy-fucking lifestyle out to the powers that be (I wouldn’t.) The dumb broad was so paranoid that someone would “out” her coke habit, that she inexplicably fired her best employee and loyal friend. Un-fucking-believable.
I was pretty cool about. I mean, about as cool as somebody who just bought a new car and apartment would be after learning that their source of income had just been pulled out from beneath them without warning. The HR manager even commented after Sammy left the room that, “You’re taking this pretty well. I thought you’d be a lot more upset. I was actually expecting you to get violent” (which was not unprecedented to think, as I had a reputation as a wild ruffian after coming into work with blood on my fists and clothes on several occasions.)
What made matters worse, is that there were several other people in my department that actually deserved to get fired. We had a guy who was stealing jeans and selling them on eBay, another guy who just straight up didn’t give a fuck and wouldn’t show up to his shifts, and then a chick who would steal sales, manipulate the computer system and lie on her time sheet to increase her commission. But of course, I got fired.
This was the culture at Nordstrom. From day one, you are put under a microscope. They are constantly looking for reasons to fire their employees. Why would they do this, you ask? To keep constant pressure on their associates to perform. When you get hired, they give you an employee handbook. “There is only one rule”, it says: “Always use your best judgment. There are no more rules.” Seems pretty fucking cool, right? Well, not so much. Because there are no “official” rules, no one really knows whether or not they’re properly following procedure. And Nordstrom would use employee’s “poor judgment” against them when firing them. Well, if you didn’t know you were doing something wrong (chewing gum on the sales floor, drinking a coffee in the stock room, wearing tennis shoes), then how is it reasonable to fire you for the aforementioned reasons?
I really loved working at Nordstrom (well, I loved making tons of money doing a pretty easy fucking job), but I really hated the culture, and what it stood for (the store I worked at was pretty “clickesh” and a lot of the employees were unbearably superficial.)
After I was canned, each and every one of my fellow co-workers from my department were either fired, or transferred to other stores. Three employees even went so far as to write letters to the store manager about Sammy’s cocaine habit (only to be fired for writing these letters in good faith – makes sense, right?) to no avail. It is mind-boggling how this company decides who stays and who goes. Some of the most immoral, unethical cheats and drug addicts I have ever seen have kept their jobs, all while hard-working men with families are fired from their department after 20 years just to “prove a point” that “no one is safe.”
Am I bitter? Fuck yes. I don’t know why, but I am. It’s been over two years, so you think I’d be over it. But the wound from being stabbed in the back still stings. I still haven’t gotten my life back together since (I couldn’t afford my car payments, and no longer have the vehicle; I was forced to move back in with my dad because I couldn’t afford rent; and the economy collapsed shortly after I was fired, so I have been unable to find a job making as much money since then.) The injustice just really upsets me. And the best part? Sammy is still employed by Nordstrom, coke habit and all.
So I have made it a personal goal to someday have enough personal wealth to buy a majority share in Nordstrom, get elected to the board of governers, and completely change the culture of how they operate. I don’t want another person to be shafted for unjust reasons without warning. Also, I wouldn’t mind enacting vengeance on any individuals who fucked me over that still might be employed by Nordstrom should they still work there when my dream is realized. I also plan on promoting the people that treated me like a human being to top-level positions and giving them lavish raises.
Keep your eyes on the prize, right? Nordstrom has been both a blessing, and a curse. Without them stabbing me in the back, and then arresting me for carrying a concealed weapon, I may not have the motivation I do today to succeed, and subsequently destroy their evil organization.