A while ago, I made a reference to my disdain for the PostNet here in Helena, Montana. I got a few e-mails asking what the situation was. I’m hoping that whenever someone does a search for “Helena MT PostNet” or of the sort, that this post gets to the first page of that result.
Bob and Sue Brookie are the owners and they are not very good ones, at that. I worked there for a little over a year and a half. I was their sole employee after they chased the other employees off. Which should have been my first sign of the real situation there. They did have a rotating book keeper as they couldn’t keep one for long.
When we moved here from Yuma, Arizona to Helena, Montana – I could not find work at all. I eventually had to become a substitute teacher for a short time. I started applying for retail jobs that paid a decent amount as I wanted to move out of my in-laws as quickly as possible as who wants to live with their in-laws past a few months?
Bob Brookie gave me my final check on New Year’s Eve 2010. He informed me that I was being laid off due to lack of work. Which I found surprising as they had offered me medical insurance coverage only a month prior and it was going to kick in around March.
Getting my check after the lunch hour wasn’t unusual, in fact, Sue Brookie had informed me several times that it was her right by Montana Law, that if they wanted to delay giving me my check, they could up to two weeks. Which should have been another signal that my time there should have been a short one.
This was during the time the economy was horrible and the phase, under-employed, was becoming a buzz word. Which is the case where you have people who have Bachelor Degrees working in retail positions as their full time jobs.
At this time, I was also working at Hastings part time. The first hero of the story is Brian who was the store manager at the time. I had to work my GoShip shift but I wasn’t really there, mentally as it was already hard to get that job and the few interviews I was able to sneak off to, were not promising. When you are going given thirty minutes for lunch, it really narrows down what you can apply for.
Brian was nice enough to show me how to expand my availability and I essentially was given full time hours and made enough to carry us for a few months.
I was told by friends and family to apply for Unemployment, which I was hesitant to do as I didn’t want to be one of those people. But putting my family needs first, I started the application. When I got to the reason for why I was let go, there it was. “Laid off for lack of work,” which I thought was a sign that Bob Brookie had looked into what I would have to do and gave me the correct response.
I was worried about getting Unemployment as you hear so much about the abuse of it and I didn’t know anything about it.
So I filled out the application and waited. I’m glad I did as I found out how truly horrible a person Sue Brookie really is. She purposely delayed the Unemployment process by four months. These were the longest four months. I had to be on the phone with Unemployment with what felt like days. At first, I wasn’t sure what was happening with the delay. It wasn’t until the first weeks when I found out it was due to a miscommunication between myself and my former employers. Unemployment told me to be patient, these things happen.
Later, when our second hero of this tale shows up, Benjamin C. Tiller, who started me on my current career path. He informed me that Unemployment is the easiest thing, as an employer, to just green light. It is something that all employers have to pay into, so the funds are already there, in case the former employee applies for it.
Which tells me that this was just a delay tactic as the Brookies are dicks.
Sue Brookie informed Unemployment that I wasn’t laid off due to lack of work but because I was a horrible employee. Which started a sequence of forms having to be filled out. Her telling her stacks of lies and my telling the absolute truths. Luckily, Unemployment saw right there it but Sue was able to delay the process by waiting until the very last day to submit her responses. Unemployment was able to see though lies pretty easily but the entire time I kept telling them to ask Bob for what he told me as that was the reason I was being laid off.
Sue had all of these false claims or blew up petty claims into larger issues. One falsehood was that she faked evidence that she wrote a Post-It note stating that I was rude to her because she confronted me with my cell phone usage. The funny thing is that she wrote the note “3 – 2011” when she laid me off on December 31, 2010. It wasn’t a post-it with “3 – 11” so maybe it was the day of the month but the year. Of course, her response was filed around March 2011 so clearly she just made up that Post-It right there. Once I pointed that out to Unemployment my case became that much easier. Even if it was “3-20-11” that information would still be wrong.
Another thing that made it super easy was that Sue provided my time card for December 2010, showing that I was late a couple times. Which to that, my response was that there is a train that cuts across North Montana and delays traffic up to several minutes. I choose not to call as I was only two minutes away. Also, that it was December and that’s the busiest time of the year for PostNet. Which is what spurred my typing all of this as I keep seeing their commercials on television, mostly on CBS.
So I couldn’t call them as their phones were already busy and once I did come in, Sue and Bob were both using the two computers which I have to also use to get my time recorded.
Which that was a great day as when they were starting the whole electronic time card, Sue made a very sarcastic remark that I should really enjoy the new process as it will keep track of all of my actual time. Which I’m not sure why she would say that as it just brings attention to how much time I wasn’t being paid to work. Which I knew would now be recorded. I would typically get one to two hours of overtime each week. Which is a lot of money that I was screwed out of prior to the new format.
So Sue had this timesheet that had the few days I was late, marked in yellow. So I, naturally, marked in pink, all of the times I was there beyond 6pm. My official time was 9am to 5:30pm, giving me an eight hour work day with a thirty minute lunch. So I may have been five minutes late (at most) but then I ended up staying thirty to forty minutes each night for several nights. So not only did I make up the time, I far exceeded the time.
The third thing that really helped my case was that with the forms, Sue would use the small hand writing that looked like chicken scratch and try to get all of her venomous lies into the smallest spaces on the form. Whereas, I, took the time to just recreate the form and gave myself plenty of lines and spaces and typed the entire responses out. As my handwriting is horrible but I know how to use a computer. I could only imagine how the Unemployment office must have felt. To me, it definitely felt like a college education person having to combat / argue with a high school graduate. Which, in truth, is what we are.
Bob and Sue’s oldest daughter, who lived in town, was married to Tom who was a high mucky muk with money – compared to the Brookies who may not have had a lot of money – so there was always tension between the two. Tom informed me once that Sue spent twenty years in her last job with her nose down and just doing what she was told to do with her position at an assembly factory. So she had no real management experience, which was pretty obvious with how she conducted herself.
Tom and their daughter would thank me for having patience to work with her parents, as the recognized it wasn’t or couldn’t have been easy. Sometimes, people would make the false assumption that I was their son but I would have to correct them that no one would treat their son like how they did me.
Once I was working at Hastings as my official job, the mail box holders would come in from time to time and tell me how much they miss me over at PostNet. Which didn’t surprise me as those two would fight in front of customers and it would get extremely awkward. Plus, would one want to talk with me or deal with one of them? I imagine that was an easy choice.
The deal with PostNet is that it isn’t the Post Office, a phase I had to use a bunch. It also isn’t UPS or FedEx. It is a third party shipper. The main benefit is that you can come in with a lamp and they will box and package it for you, for up to thirty dollars. But it isn’t the Post Office so their prices are different on everything. Which make it super awkward with phone calls and in store customers. They would know a book of stamps would cost nine dollars but there, it would be ten dollars and 25 cents. The large flat rate box would cost $16 but there, it would be $24. People would get so mad about this but they are not the post office. Usually the prices if you went straight to UPS or FedEx would be often six to ten dollars more. The problem with FedEx in Helena, is that Ground is only open for thirty minutes (or something like that) and Air pass the airport and people don’t want to make that drive or the directions to it are hard to convey.
Though really, its just going towards Wal-Mart via the back way and just making a left, but I tried to tell someone that once and Sue got mad as that wasn’t how Bob gave the directions.
One time I walked into the store and Bob instantly starting using profanity and yelling at me. Apparently I had cost them forty dollars due to me telling a customer that I guaranteed an item would get somewhere on a particular day if they used Express Mail. I never gave guarantees as I followed Sue’s approach of always telling customers that there are no guarantees with weather delays or delays caused by anything else. The way Bob and Sue were telling me all of this, was clearly how they rehearsed it and I still kick myself for not reporting them to Corporate as they can’t speak to employees like that.
I wish I had knew more about the Wrongful Termination attorneys in town as I would have had an easy case. My used the Montana Lawyer Referral number and was given three numbers to call, all of them were of no help. If I had knew, I would have just called the main law offices in town and would have had better luck.
At least I was able to tell those three attorneys about the poor business owners the Brookies are. I also got to tell everyone I interviewed with the story. People at the State Departments do not like the Brookies, typically it is Sue when they talk about who they don’t care for. If they ever wonder why more State agencies don’t use them, that’s why. Pretty much, anyone who would ask me about PostNet once I was laid off due to lack of work, I would tell them the whole story. Unless I knew they were just going to tell the Brookies, then I just told me the simple, I was laid off on New Year’s Eve, which is still a crappy thing to do.
So this person comes into the store to get their money back. Apparently the guy was being pressured to do so by his girlfriend, which I completely get as my wife works me like a puppet from time to time – but that’s the only way to get anything done, sometimes. The guy’s entire problem was that he shipped it Friday (which I remember) and thought it would get there on Sunday and not Monday. Which I wonder if that’s how he told the owners that as one would think they would have informed him that nothing gets delivered on Sunday. I start to explain that Sue got mad as she just wanted me to apologize and not explain myself.
That’s another issue I have with them too. At one point, in September or October, Sue had a cancer scare and couldn’t be at work for three amazing months. It may have been August. Their older daughter came in to help once she was done with her main job. Things worked at a smooth rate, which must have annoyed Sue when Bob would tell her. Sue finally came back and it was like she had came back from prison, where she wanted to throw her weight around and prove her dominance at the store. Which was unnecessary but I wasn’t even given like any sign of appreciation for my extra hours I worked or the Saturdays I came in and worked. One would think that all of that work would have earned me a raise but instead, I was laid off right after the holidays.
Another instance, a guy dropped off a box with his own label and it had gone out when UPS picked it up. The next day, the guy came in accusing us of stealing his box as his tracking number didn’t work. What had happened was that he bought two items, in two different shipments and had used the wrong return label. I had to make several calls and figure it all out but the guy had instructed us that he was going to the police. Sue spent most of her time on the phone with an attorney. She later informed me that if they have to go to court, that I was going to have to pay for half of the costs – which I told her that I’m sure I shouldn’t be held accountable for anything like that. Even if the guy said that he gave me the box and saw that I put it in the back room for pick up. Yet another sign of her not knowing how to speak to an employee or how to handle a situation.
Their commercials say that there are no lines there during the holidays but there definitely is, especially around the lunch hours and right after people get off of work. Or very early in the morning, so essentially, that’s false advertising. It may be shorter lines than the Post Office but that’s not what they are saying.
Sometimes I get so mad when I think about the year and a half that I wasted there. Or when I think of the things I should have said or reported that would have made the Unemployment process easier.
I am thankful for Abby, who was the Store Manager of Hastings after Brian, for seeing the leadership skills in me and promoted me from Costumer Service Associate (CSA) to Costumer Team Leader (CTL) as it made the interviews easier and showed growth. I will be forever thankful to Hastings for being there for me when I needed them to be. Well, until Abbey left and the revolving door of Store Managers started but that’s another story that I won’t get into as that’s pretty much it.
Another odd thing was that their oldest daughter saw me at Wal-Mart in February after being laid off due to lack of work, and she was super pleasant to me. Which made me wonder how much she or even Bob knew about what Sue was doing. I have been lucky enough to not run into them but if I ever did, I wouldn’t fake pleasantries with them. I imagine they, or at least Sue, would know better than to even approach me. She knows that she lied, for the most part, to Unemployment, took a gamble that I would find gainful employment in time and the whole matter would be resolved. Unfortunately, mostly to me, that I didn’t get a proper job until May of that year.
Bob did wave at me once and all I could do is stare at him. Which reminds me, Sue had this haircut that a slew of older women had so that’s what I see first so there was a period of time (still), where I was shooting old ladies dirty looks.
There was also a day where I recognized Bob’s truck and it seemed like he was following me, trying to figure out where I worked at the time. That was a little weird but he was probably just looking for any reason to not go back to the store.
Something else that helped me with my case was that for months, they would do these Employee Appreciation lunches that lasted up til the busy time (around November) which always ended with them thanking me.
The final thing that really secured my stance was that they gave me a decent raise and a very good employee evaluation sometime in July. So any evidence they had prior to July was truly voided as they had their chance to correct any ‘bad behavior’ at that time and didn’t have any to correct. Except that for a week, once, my shirts were a tad wrinkly.
The entire experience pretty much changed me, I now keep good records of issues I have with employers or other employees, I document anything that I don’t agree with or that seems odd to me. I’m not afraid to go to Corporate or to a Managing Partner. I’m never going to have my reputation be tarnished by lesser people ever again.