The Federal Penitentiary White Glove Treatment

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you read “A New Character Appears!” before Aug 28, 2014 I made a minor change to it on that date.  Jessie’s debt got less legitimate.  Nothing else has changed in the updates before this point. 

 

 

 

Jessie nodded without thinking then cursed herself.  The lady had picked a package of hose up. She’d stuck it in her purse.  The action hadn’t been covert.  Jessie didn’t know where it had gone after that, and didn’t really care.  Pantyhose was the cheapest thing they sold; let her keep it.  Of course, Nathan didn’t know what had presumably been stolen and apparently wasn’t ready to just let it drop.  “Maybe it got into your pocket.  Lots of coats have em block as well these days.”

The woman shrugged and flipped the pockets of her coat inside out.  This drew even sharper looks from the other shoppers who were now watching fairly intently.  The woman was playing with them.  She was making a fuss on purpose.  She had probably been working for this reaction since she walked in the door.  Jessie nudged Nathan hoping to signal him to lighten up.

He took it the wrong way, “Were you wearing your coat the whole time?  If not you might have put it in a pocket of that suit.  It is a lovely suit, I must say. ”

For the first time the woman baulked.  Her voice was pitched just a little too loud as she answered, “You know, I come here all the time and I’ve never received this kind of treatment before.  Perhaps that sales girl is mistaken.”

Jessie opened her mouth to say she was mistaken.  Utterly mistaken.  Mistaken this time and broadly prone to fits of fancy and sporadic hallucination.

Nathan was faster. “If you’ll just humor us.”

With slow deliberation the woman started to turn her pockets inside out, thumping whatever she found on the counter.  Her expression grew steadily darker as she did so.  The gathered watchers were now being obvious in their inspection of the counter, and a small bead of sweat had broken out on Nathan’s forehead.  She checked her right front pocket, then both of the back ones.  “I don’t see why I should be forced to continue with this.  Surely your girl is confused.”

“Almost certainly,” Nathan shot Jessie a look.  His cheeks were starting to redden but she couldn’t tell if it was anger or embarrassment.

The woman stood for a moment looking ticked, and then continued starting her pocket search on the largely ornamental pockets of her vest and jacket.  There was nothing.  “There, I hope you’re happy now.  And I hope I can go.  Or were you hoping to perform some sort of cavity search as well.”

“No ma’am! Of course!  We’re very sorry to have detained…”

“And I hope you will do something about this fearsome child.  There was a time I liked coming here, and it would be nice to be able to keep coming here.  If you take my meaning.”

This time the flush in Nathan’s cheeks was clearly anger as he looked at Jessie.  “We pride ourselves on the quality of our service and we do not like to look anything less than totally competent.”

Jessie winced.  This was going to be ugly and only proving that she hadn’t been mistaken would help.  She thought back to where the woman had actually put the package.  Wait!  She hadn’t actually exposed that one pocket!  “What about your front pocket.”

“My front pocket?”  Some of the innocence was back on the woman’s face as she reached into the right pocket again.

“The left ma’am.”

Trophy Wife reached slowly into the left pocket, then with equal slow deliberation turned it inside out.  It was empty.  It was as empty as a stage performer’s top hat.  Jessie could have clapped, or cried maybe. The woman swept everything she’d put on the counter into her purse with a single motion then pointedly marched out the door without a further word.  Nathan wasted no time in yanking her back to his office.

“You’re fired.”

“But…”

Nathan exploded.  “But nothing!  That little show was the worst I’ve ever seen.  Where in the hell did you learn about customer service?  The federal penitentiary?  Did you expect her to have a shiv on her?  I’ve known all along you aren’t the right sort of employee for us and today you proved it beyond any shadow of doubt.  Don’t you have any respect for our customers?  These are rich important people.  A lady like that wouldn’t steal something.  She probably has the money it takes to buy and sell the whole store!  We can’t push these people around like they’re just anyone.  But I guess you wouldn’t know that.  You don’t know anything about quality.”

Wait, Jessie thought, the cameras! Finer Things had more security cameras then a casino.  Knowing how heavily recorded they were made some of the employees uncomfortable, but surely one of the cameras would have shown the theft.  “Check the security feed, you’ll see I wasn’t making anything up.”

“This isn’t about if the woman stole something or not,”  Nathan said, at least partially contradicting himself.  “This is about our customers expectation of service.  Everyone out there who saw that little scene is going to worry they’ll be treated like a criminal when they try to leave!”

“You…”

Nathan cut her off before she could point out that he’d been the one to go overboard when she’d been trying to get him to drop it.  It probably wouldn’t have mattered, he’d looked like a fool and the store had looked bad.  Now he was angry and he was taking it out on her.  “No, no, we’re done talking.  You’re fired.  You are gone.  Just leave now.  We’ll be mailing your paycheck.  If you want to see it I’d recommend you don’t change your address because I don’t want you coming back in the store for anything.  Understand?  If I see you around here again I will call the police.”

“Prick!”

“Get out.”

Jessie stomped out so mad the red haze didn’t clear until she’d gotten home.  Only then did it occur to her that she’d lost her job and she needed another one fast.

Shoplifting is not a Prank
A Really Cool Tree House

For some reason I cannot adequately explain, even to myself, I'm trying to write and to write better. So if you like my story let me know. All feedback is appreciated.

Posted in The Beginners Guide to Magical Site Licensing Tagged with: ,
18 comments on “The Federal Penitentiary White Glove Treatment
  1. DeNarr says:

    So in the future they have high tech auto-readers for merchandise, but they don’t have security cameras?

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      Heh, blast! I suppose they would. Uh – no one was looking at them? I’ll have to change something to deal with that.

  2. Thaumaturgical_Support says:

    For those who don’t want to page backwards to find them, the altered paragraphs I mention above are:
    _________________________________________________________________
    But her mother had been far too young to die, only a little past 40. So they’d kept fighting with other treatments that weren’t medically recognized, or as it turned out, effective. Spells could be cast directly on a patient. That was highly illegal for very good reasons. But they’d found an underground mage willing to risk it for the right price.

    Her mother had sold her life insurance policy. That had been enough money for a “down payment”. Jessie had taken out a “loan” to pay for the remainder of the treatments from “some people” that the mage knew. It had to be Jessie taking the loan, the spells weren’t certain to work.
    _________________________________________________________________

    I also say Jessie can’t quit working at the club.

  3. Jake says:

    Just a thought, but maybe when you edit a prior post you can throw something in showing what you changed and maybe a date or edit 1 or edit 2 type deal. I went back and reread the post and and was fairly confident in what I thought you changed… Then read your comment.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      Good thought, I’ll do something to that “A New Character Appears!” to make it more obvious, and I’ll try to handle it more gracefully in the future. Well – I’ll not to do it again at all! But if I have to.

  4. Jonathan May says:

    So to clarify she got fired for coming on her day off and then doing her job and asking a suspected Shoplifter to empty her stuff? No offense but even Walmart is checking people bags these days for stuff. That’s a pretty skimpy excuse for firing her. Don’t know how the legal system works there but pretty sure she could take them to court for that.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      So to clarify she got fired for coming on her day off and then doing her job and asking a suspected Shoplifter to empty her stuff? No offense but even Walmart is checking people bags these days for stuff. That’s a pretty skimpy excuse for firing her.

      It was completely unfair and bad management besides! Jessie was making a statement of fact when she called Nathan a prick.

      Don’t know how the legal system works there but pretty sure she could take them to court for that.

      Standard disclaimer: I’m not a legal expert and the law is complex. I *think* this would be the situation but this is not intended to constitute legal advice unless you live in the reality of this story! 🙂

      Jessie lives in a parallel version of the United States where the law is much the same as it is in reality. There are a few differences and the story will actually mention them, but this area is the same. That being the case, Jessie would be looking to bring a civil suit for wrongful termination against Finer Things. She’s probably an “at will” employee, meaning she can be fired at any time for anything except those things protected under the EEO laws: race, creed, and gender. Jessie’s argument would be that her gender led to her termination; Nathan hit on her, she turned him down, and he fired her without a good reason. She might also toss in a sexual harassment claim. That might even be true, we can’t say what was in Nathan’s mind when he was kicking her to the curb. (Well actually *I* can. It was! He’s such a jerk….) But to prove it in court will take months, and she’ll probably need a lawyer – which she can’t afford. This case isn’t sure enough for a law firm to take it under the assumption that the settlement will pay their fees.

      As angry as she is, Jessie’s going to walk away fairly confident that it’ll be easier to find a different lousy part time job then to get this one back via the courts.

      • Isa Lumitus says:

        Yeah, Jessie fighting the termination would be a stupid move. Even in the unlikely event she won, and ‘Finer Things’ had to pay the court costs, she still probably comes out behind due to not being able to work while she’s dealing with the red tape.

        That said, If she just went over Nathan’s head on the matter, she might still get him fired. Pulling a Bad Boss routine like that too frequently will kill a business, especially if the people you fire are the ones that actually show up for their shifts. And the type of idiot who does that once usually does it multiple times.

    • irrevenant says:

      Agree with both you and Thaumaturgical_Suppprt but just wanted to point out that this store ain’t Walmart, it’s a high-end boutique selling things to rich VIPs. Standards are different.

  5. Thaumaturgical_Support says:

    I just put up a small change to deal with the security cameras and to make Nathan look like even worse boss. 😉 You just can’t find good management for $11.50 an hour.

  6. Jonathan May says:

    Well yeah her calling him a prick at the end might be grounds for firing. Sorry about the post. I was kinda in a bad mood to begin with when I read it and have a tendency to get emotionally involved in stories I read. Especially when I feel that the person I’m rooting for has something like that happen to them. Also I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind making her debt worse. I know why you said you thought you did I just don’t understand the reasoning. Or concept I guess.

    • Jonathan May says:

      And what’s an at will employee? In my experience usually after a certain probationary period, there has to be a good reason to be fired or it’s unlawful termination.

      • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

        No worries, it’s great that you care about the characters and feel the firing was unfair; that’s what I was going for! It *is* unfair. It’s just not good to be a main character in a story; bad things happen to you. Better to be the innkeeper in chapter 2. 😉

        This is at will employment: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/employment-at-will-definition-30022.html . The concept of at will employment isn’t really as bad as it sounds. First, it was originally developed to protect the *employee* you can also quit your job at any time for any reason. That wasn’t the case in the bad old days. Second, the law is mostly an acknowledgement of the fact that a judge doesn’t understand all industries and doesn’t know a good reason for firing a pipe fitter from a bad reason. And finally, it’s still terrible management to fire people for no reason, so it seldom happens.

        Jessie’s debts need to be worse because of the portion of the story I’m writing now. It will go live in about 2 months. I had originally conceived this story to be something like Ben Bova’s “Cyberbooks”: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/908230.Cyberbooks . A new invention comes along and shakes of a stagnate industry but most of the results are fairly “real world”. As it turns out, I’m not that good. 🙂 When I wrote *that* draft of the novel it was painfully dull.

        So in my story a new invention comes along, shakes of a stagnate industry, and wizards throw fireballs. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say Jessie is going to get sucked further into the action. But why would she put up with that if her debt were all held by Mastercard? She’d declare bankruptcy, go on unemployment for a few weeks, find another job, and live her life devoid of readable action.

        Now she owes the fairy mafia, I suspect they’re going to be more _forceful_ in their collection attempts…

  7. Tucson Jerry says:

    This sounds to me like a setup. I wonder what “powers that be” is behind it. I mean, get real! You have the perfect bitchy rich girl, who happens to be the type that sets off our heroine. And then you top it off with her boss diving in full bore, almost forcibly, going along with it. Has to be a setup. Either that or the side effect magic from that drink is really horrendous.

  8. Um the Muse says:

    If you want that extra touch of realism, the amount of money that you mention should be adjusted for inflation. Consumer prices in the US go up by about 3% every year, on average.

    That means that if you want people who earn minimum wage to be able to afford as much now as twenty years from now, minimum wage in your story should be around $14-15 (8*1.03^20 because the current minimum wage is $8 an hour).

    Government doesn’t change its fines nearly that often, but the fine is probably set a little low. I’m assuming, of course, that these employees are well compensated; they’re jobs seem to be the magical equivalent of engineers. If that’s the case, then the fine is about a year’s salary for these people. That would be a hardship, but I get the feeling that you were aiming to make the fines really punitive.

    My gut feeling would be to put them at $250,000. The idea is to punish them for all the times that they weren’t caught. Assuming that the average stealing employee can get away with their perfidy for five years, earning $50,000, the fine seeks to regain that loss.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      > That means that if you want people who earn minimum wage to be
      > able to afford as much now as twenty years from now, minimum
      > wage in your story should be around $14-15 (8*1.03^20 because
      > the current minimum wage is $8 an hour).

      I think I’ve expressed something poorly. The story is set “now”. The technological baseline is higher, but only because magic has allowed science and engineering to “cheat”.

      > My gut feeling would be to put them at $250,000. The idea is
      > to punish them for all the times that they weren’t caught.
      > Assuming that the average stealing employee can get away with
      > their perfidy for five years, earning $50,000, the fine seeks
      > to regain that loss.

      That’s a very good point! I did intend the fine to be very stiff, but isn’t the maximum fine for downloading a single song something like 10,000? I definitely need to change that. I think I may go back and retcon it this instant.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      There, I stuck in a single word. I made the fine “per *casting* incident”. That way if you steal a spell and use it 10 times you owe a million dollars.

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