February 28, 1986

February 28, 1986

carl kirkman

general manager - store #1309

born:

birthplace:

age:

height:

partner:

alignment:

alma mater:

1989/02/01

detroit, michigan

33

6' 3"

unmarried

lawful good

university of michigan

B.B.A. 2008

salary:

$145,440 + $97,527

base + bonus (2021)

signature:

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overview

Carl Kirkman (Born February 28, 1988) is an American businessman, retail marketer, and mid-level bureaucrat who is currently serving as the General Manager of WonderMart Store #1309 in Plainview, Indiana. As the highest ranking employee of the massive wonderstore, he is a passionate, hard-working and sometimes humorless person full of can-do spirit and, unlike many around him, has not lost his optimism in the face of corporate bureaucracy. He believes strongly in the mission of his job, sometimes going over-the-top in his dedication to helping customers and staff.

Despite a poor upbringing in Michigan with an absent mother and few opportunities to thrive, Carl was able to defy expectations and make something of himself, becoming a rising star in the WonderMart corporation and one of the best performing managers in his district as a result. He greatly cherishes his work and his ability to help customers and further the interests of his employees. and he is highly skilled in high-stake problem-solving and devising store-wide strategies in order to promote the best financial performance attainable. Although his positive attitude is frequently met with frosty reception from his apathetic boss, Claudia Olander, Carl does not let grudges consume him and keeps his head down and works strongly to dig himself out of problems. Since Claudia is all too happy with the prospect of watching Carl's store flounder, Carl works double-time pick up the slack, a trait which never goes unnoticed with his coworkers and customers.

Throughout his years at the store, Carl has always wholeheartedly supported his employees for their hardworking and often thankless nature and is a dedicated friend towards each of his employees. He has shown considerable compassion for floor workers on numerous occasions and sympathy for the poor treatment they suffer at the hands of senior management, but always observes an even-handed code of equitable conduct no matter what. He believes justice is a two-way street, and will not budge or bend the rules for anyone, even if he would personally be inclined to do so. When push comes to shove, Carl will readily make an example of any employees that undermine his authority or those who are guilty of shortcut schemes and dirty tactics; he can AND will fire anyone without a qualm of regret when when their actions betray his trust and put his own career in jeopardy.

While Carl is greatly committed to ensuring the success of his store, he is undoubtedly one of the most over-extended persons on payroll and his devotion to the job has become so intense that it has seriously affected his ability to hold any kind of relationship outside of work. While he tries to limit his day job to just regular full time hours, he is not afraid to pull 80 hour weeks, and more, to go above and beyond the call of duty whenever it is required...which is often.

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"And remember...set your sights high, and your dreams higher. But most of all, never, never, ever give up...because we're Store 1309, and together, we can make anything happen..."

appearance

Carl has light medium skin and a serious resting demeanor like his mother, as well as blue eyes like his father. He is fairly lanky for his age and is fairly tall, standing over 6'. He has thick dark-colored hair which he styles into his signature slicked-back side part, and a respectable beard, which he has had since college. At work, he typically wears a dark-blue Patagonia quarter-zip fleece, gray pants, and brown leather boots, which are ideal for long shifts that can include varying temperatures and movement. While hosting corporate auditors, public events, or whenever he's trying to uphold a professional image, he wears a navy blue suit with a pale blue or white shirt and an orange tie. Additionally, he can always be seen wearing an orange lanyard which carries his magnetic ID Card which is needed to arm and disarm the security system.

early life & education

Carl was born on February 28, 1984, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. His mother was 21 years old when a drunk driver hit her, forcing an early delivery. Three months premature, Carl survived numerous illnesses; with his grandmother calling him a miracle. Carl's mother, Juanita, abandoned the hospital ward upon learning that Carl was soon to be let out of his incubator for the first time and that she could hold him. Overwhelmed with the prospect of having to raise a child, she left him in the care of his young father, David, who now had to drop out of school to raise him full time. While David was a caring father who worked hard to support Carl, he was the sole provider for his son, and often struggled financially due to his menial employment and lack of education. As a child, Carl and his father would often flee from temporary motel residences before eviction occurred, often resulting in Carl having to leave his belongings behind before ending up in a new school in a new neighborhood. Although Carl's father worked hard to provide for his son, even gaining steady employment as a Tool & Die maker in Carl's teen years, David inherited a number of genetic heart problems that eventually led to his death at the early age of 40. Learning of his father's death had a substantial impact on Carl, and by the time he graduated high school, Carl knew staying in his working-class community wouldn't lead to a more prosperous life and he made a posthumous promise to his father, that one way or another, he'd be financial independent. David's tragic death was the push Carl needed to skip town with nothing more than his high school diploma and the hope of finding success, or at least unearthing fortune, in the aftermath of the 2008 recession.

the discount dreamer

Carl never set out for Indiana with visions of cheap groceries and Chinese electronics in his eyes. By all accounts, the retail business only came about after his ventures in the accounting industry went sour. Carl had dreams of running his own accounting concern, and landed himself a temporary gig doing grunt work at a sweatshop bookkeeping firm for a mere $250 a week while he exhaustingly worked his way through his degree. It was hardly the sort of money and experience that would make a difference in his career, and without any glamorous internships on the horizon, he had to make a choice for the sake of his future. After two grueling years at the company, Carl saved what little he could to cover his school expenses, and called it quits before leaving the accounting industry all together, with little reservation.

At the age of 23, Carl stumbled into a full time warehouse position at a WonderMart in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Curious at how such a simple business philosophy could be so profitable, Carl leveraged his fascination for the vast establishment further, and meticulously investigated the company's inner workings over the course of several years. As time went on, his acumen for the big-box superstore industry continued to grow, inspired by the countless managers, vendors, and employees with which he had the pleasure of working alongside throughout his time in Michigan. While many consider the cutthroat world of retail to be beneath them, Carl's everyday experiences in the business provided him a much more comforting message: that you don't need to singlehandedly change the world to make a change for the better. That is how Carl's dreams to manage his own store began.

store #1309

2017 earmarked the true start of Carl's leadership journey. Having turned several failing departments profitable during his years as an assistant manager, Carl was finally eligible for a training program specially designed for prospective WonderMart managers, and he soon left for Chicago where he began an intensive twelve months of training prior to being offered a permanent general management position at a struggling mid-volume store an hour-and-a-half outside Indianapolis.

It did not take long for Carl to begin to chafe under the inherited losses of the problem hypermarket. He began relentlessly searching around for ways to reduce expenditure, and sure enough, he found them. Having reduced shrinkage tenfold, revitalized the backroom process, and brought customer satisfaction to an all-time high, Carl was passing the impressive savings his store achieved onto shareholders, while increasing his largely volume-based profits substantially.

Predictably, WonderMart was impressed as sales at the store increased more than 10% to $50,000,000 in his first full year. The following year, sales were up another $5,000,000. After only thirty-six months in running the store, Carl was doing nearly $175,000 in business per day while making a tidy daily profit. His unremarkable superstore clinging to the suburbs of Indianapolis posted a compound annual growth rate in sales of over 11%. He was the leading manager in town, and to a large extent the entire state as well.

Although Carl hasn't necessarily reinvented the concept of the retail management, he has found several niches and adjusted the format to transform affordable groceries, produce and household items into a true local icon. He is a stickler for consistency and cleanliness throughout his store, and he works tirelessly to ensure that employees and shoppers alike can enjoy their time at the store.

ethics & personality

Carl is a fair man of high ideals; he will lay down the law like no one's business and believes that doing the right thing by following the rules is the true and proper route to success. He is a highly skilled and dedicated manager who loves his job and is very determined in helping both customers as well as his employees in any way possible. He is well respected by the fellow managers in his district and also other big-box retailers who frequently try to poach his talent. When it comes to being a manager, he takes his job very seriously, but although Carl is extremely ambitious, he never lets his pride overshadow the importance of following rules and taking care of his employees. While he has been presented with several immoral ways to achieve promotions in the past, such as reporting minor relationships that violate convoluted conflicts of authority in his competitors, he has ultimately always remained on the side of occupational morality, instead valuing advancement that promotes his meritocratic perspective of business over sleazy dealings. 

In a fundamentally uninspiring business environment that rewards shameless banality and systemic disparity between workers and management, Carl lives to help other people, and truly believes that his job makes a difference in the community, for better or for worse. He's not necessarily full of himself, but he's convinced that his mid-level managerial job is much more important than it really is. He has no doubt that he will one day be managing the company as a whole. But whether his ambitions are based in reality or not, it's difficult to deny that his influence alone encourages his everyone around him to be better, whether they recognize it or not.

Nevertheless, Carl isn't perfect: he's been guilty on several occasions of firing good employees who were truly dedicated via loopholes in their contracts, simply due to unofficially expressing interests in labor unions. In these situations he would quietly and systematically reduce their hours over time while simultaneously assembling write-ups against them, so he could have a legitimate excuse to fire them. In all other respects, he's an honest man who treats his employees like family and who ultimately cares less about bonuses and more about making the WonderMart experience better for everyone. Even those shady moments could be considered examples of his benevolence. Carl has such an idealistic view of retail that he may have honestly considered firing these employees to such an extent to be a favor. Knowing that officially raising even the specter of unionization to Head Office would cost most of the store their jobs in an instant, Carl sees sacrificing these occasional employees as a necessary means of protecting the store's employees as a whole. While it pains Carl to punish these people for otherwise doing nothing wrong, Carl would much rather see these people peacefully downsized off of payroll, as opposed to the store being shut down and 300 people being blacklisted from ever working for the company again. He never makes these arrangements lightly, or for personal indemnity; his motives are simply to ensure that any potential liabilities to the store's livelihood are carefully mediated without incident...but that still doesn't make him feel any better about it.

In his work, Carl always has high and exacting standards, and although charismatic, he possesses a considerable amount of steel and determination which can intimidate newcomers to the store. Still, he is also well-liked by department leaders and management trainees due to his willingness to teach and allow them hands-on experience in the operation of his store. He dislikes the competitive "dog eat dog" attitude displayed by management in general, and has been known to threaten consequences or transfer AGM's who try to gain his approval or other preferential treatment through such means.

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"They say there's no magic in retail...but I'll tell you a secret: there's magic in everything we do; we're not just making sales here, people, we're helping ordinary folks find the wonder in everyday life..."

character tropes

  • Allergic to Routine: Inverted. Carl craves structure and routine in his life, which often supersedes any romantic advancements he may experience. In the store, Carl is happier and more fulfilled than he ever is at home, and he has no intention of changing that.

  • Ambiguously Bi: Has more than once shown attraction to men. That said, considering he's already married to the job, it's clear he's not too interested in acting on anything if he really is bi.

  • Authority Equals Asskicking: As the highest authority for discipline in the store, Carl definitely gives you plenty of reasons to avoid a trip to his office. Lord help you if he catches you stealing or betraying his trust.

  • Badass Bureaucrat: Not immediately obvious, but Carl's ability to regularly go up against impossible professional odds and succeed almost every time is awe-inspiring. When it comes to retail management, Carl is virtually unmatched, and it is precisely his hyper-competence that has kept him employed for so long.

  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Inverted. At work, he is usually seen wearing a form-fitting blue and white adidas tracksuit. According to Carl, he does this so that his employees can always spot him easily, and because he finds businesswear hilariously inconvenient. Claudia lampshades this on a daily basis:

    • Claudia: "For fucks sake Carl, would it kill you to wear an actual suit for once? Every time I see you I feel like I'm cruising a divorced soccer dad."

    • Carl: "A divorced soccer dad who can also run a seven minute mile."

  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Claudia. As much as they dislike each other, the two are always virtually on the brink of passionately hate-fucking. As carl puts it, "Claudia is a selfish, horrible, self-promoting, secretly drop dead sexy, dictator of a manager. And uh...it's a pretty effective combination..."

  • Berserk Button: 

    • People backstabbing him or his employees, playing politics with him or trying to insinuate he is of low character really tick him off. He visibly bristled with anger when a disgruntled customer referred to him as an "two-bit flavor-of-the-month dropout" (even if the professional environment means he can't retaliate) and absolutely exploded with rage when Claudia told him an injured employee would get a measly $500 after being struck by a vehicle in the parking lot in what he presumed to be a spitefully close-fisted 'fuck you' from corporate.

    • The minute anyone tries to take his sense of agency away from him by implying that his actions are manipulated, especially by emotional involvement, he gets pissed off like nothing else. Especially since the people who generally say this to him are entitled, towering figures in the corporate chain-of-command, people who have had lots of help getting to the top.

      • As an industrious, successful man who is very much ruler of his own destiny, he is conversely incensed by any suggestion that he is a naive, fragile bootlicker who is in thrall to upper management.

  • Beware the Nice Ones: Carl is a morally upstanding, friendly, incredibly nice man who will lay down the law like no one's business. But despite his friendly demeanor, he is not a pushover and can become extremely angry when people push him too far.

  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Shows signs of this. While his job is all about trying to help people, he's shown to go out of his way to help others even on his free time.

  • Consolation Award: He has won the "Betsy Galbraith Scott Businesswoman of the Year Award" (he was the only person to show up), the "Indiana Fine Woodworking Association Award for Best Birdhouse" and the "WonderMart Employee of the Month Award" (which he has won over 16 times).

  • Cool Car: Carl drives a Matador Red Lexus ES350 with the license plate CRL 360, an achievement of which he is (privately) very proud. It's certainly a far cry from the second-hand Camry he drove for 11 years prior to his promotion.

  • Cool Key: Carl carries the master key to the store, 1M7, which opens all external and internal doors, offices, glass cases, secure lockups and utility rooms. In addition, he carries a key to the compactor, the keybox, the registers, and the PLE (Powered Lifting Equipment), or five in total.

  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Carl can and will accomplish great things in the name of his employees, and despite all the well-meaning speeches he gives to people, they think his way is either boring or unnecessary. Even his own employees belittle his honest ways from time to time.

  • Innocent Fanservice Bro: Carl is no slouch in the Fanservice department. He's a surprisingly beefy dude under his clothes, which is more obvious while wearing his form-fitting tracksuits.

  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Carl can be a bit of a dick from time to time. Despite temporary moments of assholery, he still feels deeply responsible for the employees under his responsibility and his asshole behavior stems from frustration over never getting the resources he needs from corporate. Occasional Kick the Dog moments aside, he's a benevolent boss who speaks highly of employees on a personal basis (if not a professional one), recognizes up-and-coming talent and tries to reward it, and treats honest staff with the utmost courtesy.

  • Rags to Riches: A modern working example. Carl went from an entry-level warehouse associate to an extremely well-paid manager. When factoring in his performance bonus, his pre tax income in the winter of 2021 totaled over $242,000, making him the highest paid employee in the store by far

  • Small Name, Big Ego: Downplayed. Carl truly believes his position as General Manager is more vital to to the world than it actually is and that it's a stepping stone to changing the world for the better.

  • Standard Office Setting: Subverted for the most part. As the Manager, Carl has the perk of getting his own office with a window facing the salesfloor, while everyone else shares a bullpen.

    • On the wall behind his desk, he has several photographs depicting local wildlife and a monochrome motivational word poster which he supposedly rotates each month. Other items in his office include a a therapeutic bonsai tree, an engraved name plate, and a chi leg massager.

  • They're Called "Personal Issues" for a Reason: It's Not Hyperbole to say that Carl would rather hide in a dumpster than discuss feelings. He loathes telling people anything about himself. He'll mention personal details in the context of giving his opinion to other coworkers, but avoids emotional discussion about himself at all cost.

  • To Be Lawful or Good: Time after time, Carl will encounter situations where the problem at hand could be easily solved if he just broke the laws that he so values.

  • Trademark Favorite Food: Tofu. Weirdly enough.

  • Workaholic:

    • Carl lives and breathes his work, almost to an alarming degree. An average workday for Carl spans sixteen hours, and it takes a team of six assistant managers working full-time just to cover his vacations (on the rare occasion that he takes one at all).

    • If his professional determination wasn't enough, he also runs five miles every day before work, teaches a free personal finance class at the 13th street Y once a week, and acts as interim deputy chairman of the Plainview neighborhood watch. He juggles this, his unpaid overtime, and being one of the most effective managers in the state seemingly without ever breaking a sweat.