Grinder Jr.

January 22, 2008 at 1:40 pm (Cussed Dumbers)

As the old saying goes, when the cat is away, the mice will play.

Grinder is on vacation for two weeks. It’s much deserved. If left to our own devices, we would work four-hour days, get paid for eight, and leave an hour early. Work? That would be putting down the porno magazine long enough to ring someone up when they give you the stinkeye and say, “I’M READY NOW!”

In other words, we need supervision.

That’s not to say the other managers don’t supervise. They have unique management techniques. Boss Whitney is very live and let live, but by the book. Dr T can best be described as a Libertarian. I haven’t worked under the newest manager, but I trained him, so he must be good…

Then there’s Grinder. He’s a bird of a different feather.

Grinder and I go way back. We were raised in east county, (he in Multnomah, me in Clackamas) and were the victim offspring of fanatical Jehovah’s Witnesses. While we never studied, played or attended the same congregation together, we would see each other at assemblies, regional get-togethers that allowed young adults time to sneak away to smoke, beat off and do things normal teenagers do.

Grinder? He was at his seat, taking notes of who was missing.

He’s a very by-the-book kind of guy, a stickler for enforcing the missives sent down by Master P. He gets literal to the point of pain, but his store is the cleanest, we have the fewest internal incidents, and our clientele (mostly crackheads) are the best behaved. I think people begrudgingly like the paternal stranglehold he so ably applies.

He recognized me immediately when I was trained. It took me a couple of days to remember him. (He’s aged well; the Witness look was too nerdy for him.) While we both took a long time to settle into our own skin, we’ve adapted and moved on. We’ve both managed to bury the bitterness about our upbringing, but it’s nice to have someone to commiserate with, someone who knows exactly what you’re talking about.

So while he’s gone, I feel compelled to carry on, doing as he would do. While co-workers roll their eyes and comply, management gets downright testy.

Master P likes having the doors to his stores wide open, even in the dead of winter. We can close them if it’s below freezing, but he prefers we tough it out as long as possible. Since I’m arguably the most cold-tolerant, I enforce this rule happily. I’m the only one who doesn’t wear a snow-bunny parka to work. In fact, I work in short sleeves.

So when Boss Whitney and Dr T were doing inventory last week, upon returning from lunch I noticed the door was closed. “Hey! What’s this? It’s not 29 degrees outside yet.” It’s my arbitrarily chosen number for closing the door.

“Milei was cold,” Whitney muttered.

“Yup, see? Nature’s thermometers are working overtime.” She was cupping her boobs and winking at me.

“Well, okay. But as soon as she goes home, the door gets opened again!” I used my best mock authoritarian voice.

Later, as the bosses were leaving, Whitney told me, “Let graveyard know Dr T might be late, since it’s almost midnight and he’s scheduled for 7 AM.”

“Grinder will bitch about the overtime. You know how he-”

“Oh fuck him! He’s probably in Nebraska right now! Tell graveyard to take a twenty out of the till and leave me a note! Grinder will never know! JEE-zus!” Whitney was smiling when he said it, or else I’d be a-skeered.

Grinder is due back next Monday. He’s driving coast to coast with his son, who just returned home from his second tour of Iraq. It’s been a source of worry for Grinder, and now that his son is stateside and staying, he can relax a little. His son bought a car, and they are driving cross country via Las Vegas. In fact, last I heard from Grinder, he’d just finished playing slots at 1:45 AM. He’d been seated “next to a smoking skeleton in a dress.” I sent a dollar with him to gamble for me. I wonder if that’s the story I get for a buck.

It’s time to start the clean-up. In order to get the store Grinder-worthy, it’s gonna take a few days. Tonight, it’s a safe bet the temperatures will get well below 29 degrees, but I will keep the door open until my toes are cold and my fingers won’t properly count money.

Because that’s what Grinder would do…

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