SEPTEMBER 3rd, 2009
Okay, so I promised myself I wouldn't do this again. Ever, ever, ever - as I recall. In March of 1994, when for the last time I stepped out of the Suncoast Motion Picture Company store where I had paced the floor as a miserable slumming assistant manager, when I for the last time hiked up my pant legs and patted myself down to prove to my boss that I wasn't stealing (we had to do this at the end of every shift - I kid you not), when I handed my keys to said boss and smiled "See you in hell, asshole!"* -- I promised myself - aloud - that I would never work another day of retail for the rest of my life, so help me FSM. I promised.
Well, desperate times and whatnot. I hadn't had an interview in over five months. Also, I rationalized that this hardly counted as breaking that promise. My friend Godfrey Ozzenbarq III (not his real name), himself a frequently laid-off and fed-up-with-the-grind kind of guy, had been managing a small model railroad hobby shop for almost a year, and he needed an extra body in the store for a few shifts. Godfrey (not his real name) and I are railfans, so spending a couple of days surrounded by model trains and the retired men who buy them, working with my old friend again for the first time since about 1991 seemed to not really count as breaking my promise. The pay was negligible and it was only for a few shifts, plus it got me out of the house, so there I was. In retail. Again.
I have to admit, working with a product that I really like went a long way toward transforming a retail job from unbearable to downright pleasant. That wasn't the only factor, though (as I recall, I loved movies when I worked at Suncoast). Not being in a sunless cave in a snooty upscale mall, not being forced to work with bad people, not having to frisk myself (unless I really wanted to!) before being allowed to leave the premises, and selling fun stuff to an odd mix of fun customers made this hardly seem like work at all. I offered to let them pay me in trains, but a lot of those things are extremely expensive, and I only had enough hours to have earned a battery-operated "Thomas" train (batteries not included) and some plastic N-scale cows and trees, so I took a check instead.
Sadly, this "gig" lasted only a few days, but it was refreshing to see that not all retail is as I remembered it from my past life. It's still a low-paying field with long hours and nights and holidays and weekends and so on, but given the right type of product, it can be fun.
I was right back to work with the job boards and recruiters the next day. Someday, when he wins that big-but-not-big-enough-to-just-retire-to-the-Caribbean lottery, Godfrey (not his real name) is probably going to buy that store from his friend. I will totally work there.
Next up... Something Else!
* - I didn't really say that, but to this day, I'm not sure how I managed to resist.