I was inspired by my friend Buckaroo Banzai
's wife recently, so I'll appreciate your indulgence in a trip down memory lane, much the same as Pookie
did in this post
earlier in the week.
In the post linked above the Pookster gives a run-down of her employment history, which has been quite varied and covers a helluva lot of areas, and I thought I might bore you folks this evening with an overview of what I've done for money in the course of my life, along with a little pros and cons for each job.
Somewhere around age 12 or 13 I was frequenting a local comic store quite a bit, and during the summer months noticed that a kid I knew from junior high had somehow managed to get a job there. I was at least
as talented and charming as that fucking guy, so I braved the idea of asking people I saw quite a lot (at least once a week for new comic day) if I could work there, which I would now equate to asking out a girl you work with and will have to see daily
if she rejects you. Luckily for my self-esteem, I got the job, and worked in the main store part time, afternoons mostly for the rest of the summer, and saved a bit of my cash up so I could buy whatever school clothes I wanted and wasn't at the mercy of my mother's tastes. The job consisted of basically handling inventory, bagging back issues, priceing, stocking, whatever the owner really needed done. This shop was mainly a newsstand which dealt a great deal in magazines, newspapers, a few paperbacks and cigars, with a sideline of comics and baseball cards. This being the late 80's the comic market was pretty strong, and they eventually opened another store on the far side of town, so for a time my father would drop me off at the main store, then a few hours later the guy who ran the second store (which specialized in nothing but dorky shit, comics, and cards, not a newpaper in sight), he would come by, pick me up along with the daily cash and anything special ordered, and then we'd drive across town to open the other store, and my parents would eventually pick me up there at the end of the workday.
This went on for a couple years, which included a change of managers at the satellite store, and when he eventually got fired for shady practice, I myself somehow got put out of a job as well, which was honestly pretty fucked up considering I had nothing to do with whatever he had going on ( to this day I still don't know exactly what he was doing), but the owner had a new son-in-law who needed a store to run, and I'd never particularly got along with him, so it was probably for the best.Pros: I got an okay discount on my comics, and could actually spend a good deal of my time at work digging through boxes of hidden comics, filling in holes in my collection, and had a decent first pick on a lot of cool merchandise.
During this time in I met El Vox and Skincarver, who I ended up being really good friends with a bit later in life.Cons: I was around 12 or 13 in an adult business environment, and got talked down to a lot, and the family business involved a lot of nepotism, which was an enormous pain in the ass.
A year off or so wasn't any big deal, though having been laid off for no particular reason, I decided to take my business down the street to the competition, which was problematic to my collecting, as I had been working for a much better stocked store. The owner of this store was also a former employee of my previous boss, and was supposedly fired in much the same manner as I was, so I wasn't particularly shocked when he offered me a job after a year or so of my patronage. I was
quite shocked though, when he left me alone to run his store the first day I worked for him, because he and his family had to go out of town, and he had hired me specifically for that reason.
Holy shit, what a weird first day to drop on someone, a 15 year old kid, y'know?
This job was much the same as the other, except they were strictly a comic and hobby shop, which also had a heavy focus on role-playing games, about which I knew nothing, but tried to learn. The store was also a family business (drat) which involved the owner's two amazingly dorky sons working with me on a daily basis, one around the same age as I, the other younger, and the topper was that the owner also kept his 2 year old son
at the store rather than at a daycare. Housekeeping was an afterthought at best
, this was the prototypical strange-smelling nerd-filled ghetto comic shop that any fan of the medium knows well, and they've since mostly gone the way of the dodo in favor of a more legitimate retail image that most people tried to cultivate as the boom of the 90's happened.Pros: Basically the same as the first job, discount, collecting, etc., and working within a hobby I loved.Cons: Mom & Pop store, and all the family hassles that come with it, as well as the really disgusting slob factor of the owner made it a difficult environment to work in, but I don't usually shy away from cleaning and whatnot, so I just dug in and did what I could, making the best of it.
I worked for this guy for a couple years, possibly three even (I'm lousy with dates, sorry kids), and he eventually sold the store to a new owner. He didn't, however, tell me
that he was trying to sell the place, so when I came in and saw a new guy cleaning and throwing away shit (like I usually did) I was thinking I'd been replaced. The upshot was that I was to have the opportunity to stay on for a couple weeks, part of the sale agreement was that I was to be kept on and help the new owner transition into things, and he might
hire me permanently after that.
Kind of liking the rut I was in and not having a lot of other options as a teen besides fast food or something else of that sort that I knew I would hate, I agreed, and he was impressed enough to hire me, which in retrospect was the best investment he ever made. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the man bought a comic store having never
picked up a single comic in his life, so he relied on me to handle all
monthly inventory ordering, as well as keep track of regular customers interests and point out those impluse buys, he was a good businessman, and ran the store in a much more professional manner, but I know I built at least
75% of his business.
He eventually expanded into a larger building, and we brought in another store that specialized in baseball cards to help offset rent, and had two stores under one roof, though each man was responsible for his own inventory, seperate books-keeping, etc.
This lasted for around 5 years or so total, three years of one store, then two years with the twon in one set-up (again, guesstimating, can't remember exact details).
The baseball card guy wasn't pulling his weight in my manager's opinion, late on rent, what have you, and he had the opportunity to buy the original store I had worked at (which was a much smaller location, obviously scaling back his operation) and he's hired a couple other people at this point, who are eating into my hours, so I decide to stick it out with the baseball card guy and see if we can get another comic store going.
This unfortunately doesn't happen, as the boom of the early 90's has fizzled out and the business is getting pretty slim. We give it a shot though, and I do my best to drum up a clientele for his store.
I eventually am forced to look elsewhere for employment, as he simply can't afford to have an employee anymore.Pros: Same as above, though I had begun to feel like chattel after awhile, passed from one business to another. During this period I also had the opportunity to manage a satellite store of my own, which muddled along, but didn't manage to drum up as much business as our main location simply because it was a shop we'd purchased that had already lost most of its' clientele to our primary store.
Also during this period I met and became great friends with both Buckaroo Banzai and Macguffin, as well as getting reintroduced to both El Vox and Skincarver, who I start hanging out with because I'm not 14 anymore so it's less weird if we hang out, y'know?
Cons: I worked for a guy who, while more professional than previous managers, could be a really big asshole a lot of the time. He was a likeable guy, but he wasn't as knowledgleable as I was, so I ended up handling a lot of shit he couldn't for very little salary. I was still living at home, so I really didn't care about making big money, and I enjoyed the work, so it was worthwhile for a time, but in retrospect, he took a lot of what I did for granted.
I ended up at a locally owned second run theater that Buckaroo Banzai was managing. I started and was surprised that I could make a dollar or so more than I'd been making to do a helluva lot less. I worked mostly afternoons, because most of the other employees were students and didn't have the availibilty but I wasn't interested in college (hindsight's 20/20 kids) so I ended up with pretty easy shifts. Great easy job, free movies, I was living in high cotton
, and then the theater owners sold out to a larger chain, who immediately dropped a huge pile of corporate rules and codes on us, and I got my first taste of bureaucracy.
One of the new rules was a hair policy, and I had long hair at the time, so I knew my days were numbered, because I wasn't willing to cut my hair to do the same lousy job I'd been doing at a second run theater. My biggest point of contention was that the wanted to present a 'professional image' to their clientele, and I wanted to call corporate and ask if they'd ever seen
the people who patronized their theaters, doing everything shy of pissing in the corners?Motherfuck
your clientele.Pros: Free movies, laid back environment, and I got to work with a lot of people I'd known peripherally through the comics stores, including Corinthian, Shioda, and Buckaroo himself.Cons: Pretty sketchy clientele, leaving diapers in the theaters, shit like that, and of course the eventual policy change that effectively put me out of a job because I wasn't willing to completely alter my appearance to deal with the same lousy customers. I also wasn't accustomed to wearing a uniform, as the comics gigs had always been pretty casual.
I ended up quitting and thankfully got a job with a local books, music and video outlet, starting out in the receiving department, sorting pricing and stocking merchandise in the early AM, which had me driving from my parents house in the country into town at around 5:00 AM.
Somewhere in this period I also briefly worked for Bath and Body Works sorting freight and doing stocking during a holiday season.Pros: My manager had boobs as big as my head, and I always smelled nice after leaving work.Cons: Strictly part-time gig, as their normal freight wasn't such that they could keep me on after the holidays. Bye bye boobies. Also, another damned apron.
I worked receiving for a couple years at the video store and eventually got promoted to a job on the sales floor as music department manager, and was finally making some decent money. I also met a girl who worked the check out area during this time and thought I'd found 'the one', which turned into a five year soul sucking journey into hell, but that's not really a job, per se, so I won't go into it here.
I eventually heard that a major home and bedding retailer was opening here locally, and as several of my friends were either jumping ship to work there, or had quit to pursue other jobs entirely, I was finding myself surrounded by strangers and assholes on the co-worker front, and I opted to leave and join my buddy Robbb at this new store.Pros: Discount on all my major interests, book music and video, as well as the satisfaction (God help me) of dealing with the customers who needed help and were happy to find someone knowledgeable. During this period I also picked up several new people, including The Dachshund and Robbb, everyone's favorite underground artist.Cons: The rest of the customers who were just there to waste my time and try to steal from us, the usual assortment of co-worker assholes that I'd this far been somewhat spared from in my career path (such as it'd been). Oh, and you guessed it, an apron.
The new gig wasn't too bad, we were in from the store set and onward, I was hired at a raise from my old salary to be a receiving manager, with three people working with me, and I was at this job for about a year. The relationship (remember 'the one'? Yeah I know, don't laugh at me), well to be honest the relationship was in the toilet, and since she was pregnant when I met
her, I had a child to help raise, and as things went south pretty fast, I am now thinking I started fucking up the job as some sort of subconscious way of acting out, because after being perpetually late for months on end, my friend Robbb was forced to fire my ass over tardiness
.Pros: More money, a few decent co-workers, and I at first liked the responsibility of the new gig.Cons: Another fucking apron and uniform, lots of co-workers I didn't like, and after awhile I started to get really over the responsibility of dealing with the enormous receiving area that every department in the store treated as their personal dumping ground for anything they didn't want to find a place for on the sales-floor. Plus, our manager we opened with was as close to batshit crazy as anyone I've ever known, some wacky hillbilly woman who micro-managed everything until you wanted to strangle her. I recall her standing at the back of a 52 foot trailer shouting at me about when was I going to get some work done while I stood sweating and shaking at the other end and me yelling back at her "Leave me alone old woman, don't you have something to go and manage?"
I was out of work for about a month and the girlfriend and I argued almost constantly, as I didn't want to take the first thing that was available, instead wanted to try and find something I might actually enjoy doing. We had enough money to get by, but I was pretty close to settling just to get her off my back when, on the verge of working for a burger joint, I got a call back from a flowershop. I started there in early 2001, prepping flowers for use by designers, which involved stripping foilage and re-cutting them so they'll drink better, and cleaning up around the store, shit like that. After about a year of that, they started teaching me how to design arrangements, and after another year of stringing me along, I started designing full-time, which I enjoyed quite a bit. The job was pretty laid back, and while it was a Mom & Pop operation, the owners didn't operate out of our store, so we had a manager and assistants, and a fairly obvious pecking order. I've always gotten along better with women than men, so I had no problem adapting to the fairly unique working conditions of juggling the emotions and mood swings of 14 women, and I can honestly say that for the first time in years I was happy to go to work, and that helped a lot when I split up with the lousy girlfriend a few months after starting the job.
That happiness slowly changed over the course of my 5 years there, and as the manger's woefully lacking management abilities became glaringly
apparent, and my desire to spend time with my new wife became less of a priority for the employers (evidently I wasn't allowed
the option of working part-time because I had once worked for them 6 days a week when I first started the job) so I walked out with no notice mid-December of last year because I'd finally had enough.Pros: Easy job, I found it quite creative, and I got along with the vast majority of the employees. And the apron was optional, so I was finally back to my civvies and loving it. During this period I also picked up Anastasia Beaverhouszen in my circle of friends, and she became that big loud older sister I never had.Cons: Groups of moody women are a tricky prospect at best, so that could be tiring, as could the long ass hours around virtually any holiday. The manager's glaring incompetance and disinterest in my happiness whilst telling me how she wants me to be a part of the team was the final straw.
I was unemployed for around two months, and was getting kind of tense personally, but I've been lucky enough to marry amazingly
above my station, and the wife had no problem at all with floating us if need be, wanting me to find a job that would be a good fit, and be something I wanted to do. I was unaccustomed to being with someone so supportive, and kept thinking her building me up that way was some sort of trap.
Lo and behold, Anastasia's father-in-law, a local geologist, had a business partner who wanted help doing graphing of oil field drill times, which is to be done by hand and is quite tedious work.
This work can also be done from the home
, and pays by the project, and if I do 8-10 of these a month, I can make as much as I made at the flower shop working part time, but from my kitchen table
I mentioned walking in high cotton earlier, but this time I have to say that I really believe that it applies, because I've never been happier.
It'll pass, I'm sure.Pros: All of them, baby! The convenience of working from home, and at my own speed, free to hang with the wife, travel, whatever, seriously, I wait for the other shoe to drop every day, this is almost too good to be true.Cons: The bossman is a little squirrelly, and I tend to think that it's because he too seems to work from home, but unlike me he doesn't go out and mingle with the rest of the animals as much, so he has a weird way of dealing with people. And yeah, the work is amazingly tedious, but having the freedom to break it up into one or two hour chunks here or there makes it bearable.
I've noticed that in my job choices, I tend to stay in a certian place until it becomes unfeasible, which is interesting considering how bored and miserable I found myself at more than one of these jobs. I suppose I prefer the devil I know to the unknown prospect of a whole new set of assholes, and once in a rut, I tend to stick it out until I can't stand it an longer, and this has been especially true of the retail I've done.
Whew, that was possibly the longest post I've ever wasted your time with, I hope it was at least vaguely interesting.
Be seeing you.Tag, you're it, Baggy Eyes! Personal
Labels: Co-Workers, Happy, Jobs, Personal, Workday