Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Sixth Job, or, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

It's always a risk to quit a job when you do not have one lined up. There never was a lot of money being brought in so it was time to look for work as soon as I left it. Do not remember if I took a day or two to sit around and mope. I certainly was not getting any calls from other wine retailers for my services. Applied at one of the big campus bookstores and got a call back a day or two later.

Interviewed for a part time cashier, got the job. The pay was crap, but it was to keep my slightly busy while I applied for full time work. Have to admit I thought I was cursed as one of the store managers died of a stroke a couple of days after I was hired. I never met him. I also saw the store owner, the ubiquitous Doc in the store just once the entire time I was there. His health took a turn for the worse shortly after I started.

The head cashier, the woman who hired me, was one of the oddest people I ever worked with. A tiny Italian woman whose only version of fun was reading Vogue. About a week into my time there, she asked if I wanted to be full time. I said yes. For the first time I had health insurance.

The work was not horrible, but weird, especially with the crazy head cashier moving people around stations like chess pieces. It certainly was a busy place. One morning a well dressed man was looking around the clothing. He looked like I'd seen him before and I asked him why he looked familiar to me when I rang up his OSU sweatshirt.

"I am," he said, extending his hand "Senator Bob Kerry."

"Dude, you nailed Debra Winger when you were Governor of Nebraska!"

Ok, I did not say that. His aide sidled up to me a couple of minutes later and said the Senator was impressed that I knew who he was.

Back to the head cashier though. There are a lot of stories about her, none of them particularly flattering. She drove a lot of good people away with her crazy tactics of management. I have to admit to taking pleasure, years after I left, when I heard that she was finally let go. It was decades too late as far as I'm concerned.

I took advantage of a person quitting their job to get away from cashiering and into the stock room. It was different work for me, unloading a truck when the bell rang. Textbook boxes are heavy!

During this time my first marriage was falling apart. I went to the doctor and left the office with a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a prescription for Zoloft. Came home to my wife telling me she was moving out.

Was doing inventory during this time, counting hats in a third floor stockroom trying not to completely fall apart. It was rough, but I managed to get through it by stupidly throwing myself at women who were too young for me. My drinking had diminished quite a bit, and I lost 25 pounds. One side effect of the Zoloft was excessive sweating. Thank you SSRI!

A guy I worked with in the stockroom kept me a lot saner than he realized. He'd sit around and draw during downtime. He was/is a talented artist. When I left I asked to buy one of the pieces he hung on the wall. He gave it to me with his compliments.

We'd listen to Jim Rome's talk show. He was a huge baseball fan. The Cardinals, and I liked to mention the Keith Hernandez trade whenever I could. For the most part, it was an ok place to work. My coworkers were a good group.

There was no room to move forward at this job though. It was a dead end. Nepotism was its religion. I had a bizarre evaluation in which things I had done wrong months ago were mentioned, even though they were never brought up at the time. It was time to leave Even the store GM thought this process was a crock of shit. He was always fair to me, and said he gave me a fair recommendation for my next job.

After Doc died, the store went into a bit of disarray until it was bought by Barnes and Noble. The store moved from it's longtime location to where it is now. The Campus Gateway. The store sits vacant, waiting for…something. It should be torn down, eventually, and whatever goes in will be an improvement. Despite the store being in that location for many years, there is nothing architecturally or historically significant about the space.

After a year and a half, it was a relief getting out of there. The pay where I was going was much higher. I had a girlfriend who I'd marry. A new millennium was coming. Things were looking up, right?

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