Saturday, July 11, 2009

Oh, the terrible burden

In case you were wondering, I did give in to my newfound sense of guilt and rename all my dance music from "techno" to just plain "dance." Now the task is to come up with subgenres that are accurate.
The store where I work has a great reputation (at least to me) for being overly zealous and trying to comply with laws that don't exist.

I remember the hassle that I went through last spring when all members of management were convinced that it was state law for all employees to take a break. Being a workaholic (OK, just someone who believes in getting paid for my time, not dallying around on an unpaid break that's too short to allow me to accomplish anything non-work-related), I was naturally distressed by the sudden implementation of a mandatory break policy. I argued with the managers every time they asked me to take a break. I begged to start my 1/2-hour break 1/2 hour before I was scheduled to leave. I tried to make myself invisible whenever business was slow. Finally I spent several hours on all the Department of Labor websites for the United States, Maryland, Virginia, and DC, gathering information to prove that none of these governments required workers to take breaks. In fact, they did not even require employers to offer breaks. I wrote a long, pleading, never-sent letter to the owner to present my evidence and beg my case. Fortunately, all the managers were getting fired around that time, and before I was forced to share my findings, the break policy became no longer the topic of such rigorous enforcement.

However, all that is, as usual, a long digression from the actual topic, which is our store's compliance with what is, to my understanding, an actual law, found in part 172.102 of Section 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, under Special Provision 130 (Go on, you know you wanna read it. With all those numbers in it, it must be good!).

We recently received a memo stating that, because of a new regulation by the US Department of Transportation, all batteries brought in for recycling would have to be taped on one end to prevent fires during shipping. This didn't seem like a big deal to me, but after several months of trying to enforce the policy, I see that it is. People come in with huge Ziplocks full of used batteries. "Have you taped them?" I ask. If they have not, I explain our battery policy. I show them the tape we have at the customer service desk and tell them they're welcome to use it right here.

Many of these customers stalk off in disgust. They don't have the time for that nonsense. Some of them give me the bag of batteries and tell me to throw it away. Others tell me they'll throw it away at home, with an obvious tone of accusation, as if it's our fault the batteries are going into the landfill. I don't quite comprehend how their laziness is our fault. I also don't quite see how five minutes of their time is worth more than saving countless ecosystems, plus their own water supply, from impending doom, but I let them have their feeling of superiority. I wonder how hard it is to just slap a strip of Scotch on a battery when one is finished with it. I wonder how the customers amass such a huge collection of batteries in the first place. I might recycle 15 batteries per year, and some of those are the ones I find in the street or take from other people who would otherwise throw them away. Surely if you use batteries at a reasonable rate, it would never be an undue hardship to put tape on all of them before recycling them. Really, people. Spare us the martyr act.