Operation Floral Chef: Pizza, Banana Bread, & a Side of Pollen

 

I had heard that Saturday was going to be the worst day for deliveries, and the weather certainly lived up to that. Blowing snow and biting cold is a pain to drive in, and harsh on flowers. We need to warm up the van and make sure all the flowers were well wrapped, or we would not live up to our reputation for quality. Everyone knows you can get poor quality flowers at Walmart for cheap – we can only compete via quality. You could say the invisible hand is holding the bouquet…

Previous installment here and here.

The crew filed in slowly, Calluna was fish-tailing all the way here, Biker came in distraught, her neighbor was unresponsive, and had left in an ambulance in front of a panicking spouse right as she was leaving for work.  I missed some of the story, but seeing this tough wrench wench in tears said it all.  The roads were horrible – when Calluna went to get her medicine, she was rear-ended in the pharmacy lot. Fortunately, she was okay.

Meanwhile, the orders began to trickle out with Drama and Ginger. Ginger was rapidly proving herself highly dedicated – if only she was not temporary!  I was assigned the job of removing the pollen from our stock of lilies. As I was soon to learn, lily pollen packets will stain your hands and clothes orange. Since we did not want our customers to resemble a former president, the pollen needed to be removed.  Naturally, they selected the huge guy with size 10 hands to perform this delicate task. Fortunately, it was fairly easy despite being messy.

Drama reported that he had been in an accident, and the work came to a halt. He had slid out while backing up, and struck two mailboxes. He was okay, the van’s back door was dinged up, and the police were called. Both the county sheriff and town police got involved, and the insurance agents were informed. This pretty much guaranteed Drama was not going to return. A later investigation by Ginger revealed the van’s tires were balder than I am, so the accident may not have entirely been his fault.

Lunch rolled around, and Biker turned baker, with some delicious banana nut bread and cupcakes. Steel Rose ordered cheeseless pizza from Dominos, as milk protein is the Kryptonite of Steel Rose and Silence. For my part, I provided mini-oranges, since I had a surplus at my place. For a moment, the drama of the day vanished amidst the rapidly devoured surprise feast. I ate alongside the Engineer. While we agree on politics, it is much more interesting to hear about his electronics work or his grandkids or his strategic assault on the fish of a northern lake.

After lunch, I mostly sat around and watched. Eventually, I headed upstairs to finish writing the previous post in this series, and see if Ricochet had exploded today. According to what I found out later, it was actually the flower shop crew who exploded, with Drama openly defying the boss over a botched order, and getting into a profane shouting match with Calluna. Apparently, I had been an unknowing hall monitor. When I was called down for the last batch of orders, I headed out with Ginger to help. She definitely distinguished herself and had an open invitation to return. Strangely, this whole weekend felt less busy and more chaotic, with a lack of experienced crew. (When I am one of the most experienced flower handlers at the store, something is wrong)

Given the travails Steel Rose has with hiring, I wanted to ask the small business owners on Ricochet if they have had difficulty hiring quality service workers who are responsible. Is it a regional issue? A generation problem?

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  1. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Great job, Omega.  I always enjoy learning about the inner workings of small businesses. 

    What always surprises me is how stressful they are.  You not only have to worry about a sufficient number of customers coming in the door, day after day, enough to sustain your business, but you also have to keep your employees happy and productive.  Working for a large corporation seems a walk in the park. 

    I don’t think I could have stood the pressure of running a small business. 

    • #1
  2. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Great job, Omega. I always enjoy learning about the inner workings of small businesses. 

    Metoo. I used to enjoy reading other people’s trade magazines, back in the days when there were printed trade magazines. But this is even better.

    • #2
  3. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    OmegaPaladin: Given the travails Steel Rose has with hiring, I wanted to ask the small business owners on Ricochet if they have had difficulty hiring quality service workers who are responsible. Is it a regional issue? A generation problem?

    This would be a good question for @skipsul and @concretevol.

    • #3
  4. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    OmegaPaladin: Given the travails Steel Rose has with hiring, I wanted to ask the small business owners on Ricochet if they have had difficulty hiring quality service workers who are responsible. Is it a regional issue? A generation problem?

    This would be a good question for @ skipsul and @ concretevol.

    Concretevol has already provided some opinions on the subject, which we would do well to ponder. 

    • #4
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    A great series of posts on a small business at peak performance pressure.

    This post is part of our Group Writing Series under the February 2021 Group Writing Theme: “Chef’s Surprise.” Stop by soon, our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I didn’t know the pollen on those lilies smeared, either. I was definitely orange-woman-bad when I finally realized what happened. It was pretty funny.

    • #6
  7. Midwest Southerner Member
    Midwest Southerner
    @MidwestSoutherner

    OmegaPaladin: Given the travails Steel Rose has with hiring, I wanted to ask the small business owners on Ricochet if they have had difficulty hiring quality service workers who are responsible. Is it a regional issue? A generation problem?

    Small businesses in our midwestern suburb face similar hiring challenges. Many of our clients are small business owners and we help them navigate through that reality. As small business owners ourselves, we struggle to find writers, graphic designers, developers, etc. who we can count on consistently to deliver the quality level our clients expect.

    Is it a generation problem? In part, yes. I don’t want to make sweeping generalizations because there are always exceptions… but speaking for myself and most of those I know in my generation (born in 1967, so Gen X), we have a pretty strong, consistent work ethic. We’re reliable, care about our work product and performance, honor deadlines and commitments, work hard, continually improve, have a strong sense of responsibility, etc. There are many I know in younger generations for which those same qualities are present, but perhaps not as widely prevalent.

    Is it a regional issue? That’s a contributing factor, to be sure. As of October 2020, Nebraska has the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. — just 4%, even in the midst of the global pandemic. That has definitely contributed to the frequency with which people start (and quit) new jobs, and job hop to where the grass appears to be greener. Employees know that if they quit *this job* they’ll be able to find another one very quickly because help of any kind is hard to come by around these parts. Unfortunately that leads to issues that impact quality and customer service because employers are always in the mode of training up their new employees.

    For our business, when we find someone we can count on and who (mostly) matches our work ethic and quality commitment, we take the time to mentor and coach, including them in strategy meetings and letting them see the other parts of the business that their work affects. Seeing the impact they have overall seems to matter to some — and they’re worth that effort. 

    • #7
  8. Katie Koppelman Coolidge
    Katie Koppelman
    @KatieKoppelman

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I didn’t know the pollen on those lilies smeared, either. I was definitely orange-woman-bad when I finally realized what happened. It was pretty funny.

    One of the organists at my former church is highly allergic to lily pollen so every Easter the rest of us were on constant “pollen patrol”.  I’ve found the best way is to use a sharp pair of scissors and cut the stamens while holding the lily trumpet downward over the trash can.

    • #8