Friday, May 12, 2006


I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know why this time was different from any of the others.

I wasn’t planning on it. It was a Sunday morning. I had just gone out to pick up a Sunday newspaper and a bottle of Nestle’s Double-Chocolate Quik. For me, chocolate makes the frustrating business of job-hunting go smoother. I got what I wanted from the supermarket and I was heading back home. My route took me past the local mall. The place had just opened and was nearly deserted. I figured, what the hell?

It wasn’t the best of circumstances. I hadn’t shaved for about three days. I was wearing a ratty pair of jeans and this crappy Bears sweatshirt I’ve had since I was 16. Yes, it still fits me. It’s made of some kind of wonder-fabric which has just sort of expanded as I have. I hadn’t bothered to even comb my hair, and my Dennis the Menace cowlick was flying at full-staff. But if I did it today, I told myself, I wouldn’t have to make another trip back there next week. So I went in and filled out an application at “Spendorama” Department Store.

Damned if they didn’t actually call back two days later. No big deal. I’ve gotten a couple of those recently—all for shitjobs the employers were desperate to fill.

The week before, for example. A caffeine-amped manager at a bargain basement appliance store dangled a commission-only sales job in front of my nose like it was a sirloin and I was a hungry wolf. For those not in the know, commission-only means the salesdweeb does not get an hourly salary, only a percentage of each sale he/she makes. No sale, no paycheck. You can tell when salespeople in a store are working on commission, because they grin like crackheads and ambush customers one foot past the door. I worked commission-only once, briefly, for a long-gone electronics chain. Never again. The turnover is high, the competition is cutthroat and it’s damn-near impossible to make a living wage, unless you plan on working 7 days a week. I let the guy blither on about extended warranties and the like for about 20 minutes before I said no. He went catatonic, all google-eyed and slack-jawed. Poor bastard; Red Bull overload.

Anyway, I went to my interview at Spendorama Department Store. This is an actual department store, similar to Macy’s or the soon-to-be-departed Marshall Field’s. At least it wasn’t another –Mart. Talked to Hiring Guy, a polite gentleman in a shirt and tie. He said he needed a salesman in the men’s clothing department. The job was evenings and weekends, part-time, with “an opportunity to go full-time as we approach our busier Fall season,” he said. It would pay an hourly wage, an actual-sorta-living wage, at least for part-time. It wasn’t the lowest sum I’d been quoted.

So then, Hiring Guy and I did the typical employer-applicant dance I’ve come to know so well. “Describe your favorite customer service experience.” “What’s your worst customer service experience?” “Are you a team player or a lone wolf?” I’ve answered these questions so many times, I could do so in my sleep. Garbage in, garbage out; he gave me the same polite nods and “uh-huh’s” I’ve heard just as often. Then Hiring Guy excused himself and left the office, promising to return directly. Well, I thought, anticipating the brush-off, at least I’d be home in time to catch “Judge Judy”.

I sat alone in the office, which was cluttered with old sale signs, sundry displays and stacks of credit card applications. It was dim; the single florescent panel above barely lit the room. The only sound was the steady hum of air from a ceiling vent. Quite comfortable, though. I sat back, closed my eyes and eased into a sex fantasy about my latest dream girl, Karen Cliché. She’s the female star of “Young Blades”, a Three Musketeers rip-off TV show that’s only worth watching for her. Such lips, such eyes! Such skill in handling the sword! Calling Doctor Freud. . .

“Okay, John,” said the returning Hiring Guy, startling me out of an R-rated revelry. He sat back down behind his desk, scribbled something on a form. Then he did something which scared the hell out of me. He stuck out his hand and said: “The job is yours. Welcome to Spendorama. Can you start next week?”

Goddamn. Someone is going to actually PAY me to work. How did that happen?


Anonymous daftladybird said...

Congratulations! It may not be your dream job, but having somewhere to go part-time and having a little cash in your pocket ain't too bad.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Happy Villain said...

WOW, it's anticlimatic the way you presented it. Nights and weekends, eh? You're going to be dealing with the same after-work, grumpy, impatient, demanding people I do! CONGRATULATIONS!

Tell me you will continue blogging!

6:36 PM  
Blogger Lori said...


Yea you looked pretty hungover after that party.....LOL

Have a great day!!!

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WTF? I thought you were looking for full-time employment, and you settled for a Part-time gig? Shame on you for selling out...
Just kidding, I was actually amazed at how long it took you to land a retail job. Iw as wondering if there was something wrong with you (like bad breath or ugly sores on your nose...)
Anyway, congrats in joining the ranks of the working stiffs.

PS: We got a pool in the office to see how long you keep this one. Will John be able to keep his smart mouth shut to stay out of trouble? The over-under is three months...

12:18 PM  

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