Corporate Ladder Climbing

April 11, 2017 at 7:25 pm (Cussed Dumbers)

Work Recliner

When people ask why I’ve worked in stores for forty years and not became a manager, I am honest. I hate working with other bosses, sales reps and delivery people. The daytime crowd is not my scene. I’ve two fond sayings; “Gimme my happy crackheads any day.”

And, “When I work alone, I prefer to be by myself.”

If I want to make enough money to pay the mortgage, every now and then I have to come out of the dark. That would mean spending the day with Grinder, Uncle Cliffy or Southie. All nice enough guys, but they don’t want me around any more that I need them around. They forget what it’s like to work with me. They assume all I do is read, doodle or flirt with the girls. (Which is true, but I do it while running the store. And the store comes first.) The managers expect me to be making busywork when not ringing people up. Let’s not be silly.

I only do that when I see Master P coming.

Legally I am a part-time employee, but I work pretty close to full time. The bosses understand that I need a minimum of 36 hours a week to pay my bills, and I’m usually accommodated. Money has been tight lately, for the boss, hence for me. After three weeks of 33 and 34 hours, there’s not enough left over for the important stuff. Like drugs! I won’t starve, but I might get damned cranky.

We don’t want that. So I politely asked Eva, queen of the schedule, to get me closer to full-time for a week or two. She immediately agreed to give me 40 hours next week. Great, but that’s on a future paycheck. That’s my food money. Food! Who needs food money? I need to eat, guess I’ll have to use my drug money… Can I come in three hours early tomorrow?

She created a special project, and I get to help. Over the past week the Nightclub Store has been in total disarray. MISTER Edamame, owner of the building that houses the Nightclub Store, is in a panic that Master P will move out of his store, and decided to kiss a bit of boo-tay. He put in new faux-hardwood floors, and a new toilet. (More on that later. It’s a sweet toilet.) After keeping it closed all day Friday, Eva had to put the store back together. She brought two dozen doughnuts from Freddy’s, presumably to bribe the Mexican laborers hired by MISTER Edamame. Mostly untouched on Saturday afternoon, (the doughnuts, not the store) I snagged the last maple bar, earning a cackle from Voorhees. “I knew you’d go right for it!” He was correct. I love anything maple lately, and we compete good-naturedly for the last bite.

Eva had put most of the store back where it belonged, but the office was still full of racks and product. That would be our Tuesday early-afternoon special project. Eva and I would put the finishing touches on the store.

When put back, the aisles were angled differently. It was harder to watch shoplifters. I have to use mirrors instead of direct sight lines, or else video monitors. MISTER Edamame doesn’t like visible wires. “These wires are disgusting, they look like white trash. Master P needs to pay for wireless!” I was musing over this comment, about how long Edamame would have to wait for Master P to pay to hide the wires on the 12-cam video system he just bought. Yeah, we’ll have that done by December 28.

It was the Master P Invocation Rule. If you think about or mention someone you haven’t seen in a while, they show up a few minutes later. I don’t know if it’s a sixth sense, pure coincidence or what, but it happens all the time. (I’m power-thinking about Angel as I type, but it never works when you want it to. It brings the ones you don’t want mercilessly.) No sooner had I moved on in my mind, when in walked MISTER Edamame.

“How you doink, my friend?” He’s usually snappy with me the first few minutes, until he remembers I’m the one who told him to fuck off many years ago. (“I don’t give a shit if you WERE in the Israeli Secret Service, until you sign my paychecks you can go fuck yourself.”) He has seen me “clean house” in front of the store, and likes my style. I am his “close personal friend”, unlike that useless infidel of a woman Eva. Women are useless in the business world, according to MISTER Edamame. (They might make good sandwiches, if they’ve been trained properly.) But run a business? Master P must be losing his marbles!

MISTER Edamame doesn’t think much of Asians, either. “Honestly, if Master P moves out I would make this something else. I only want white or Israeli grocers. And this is a grocery store, not a convenience store! Convenience stores are for low-lifes!”

Gee, thanks. You’ve just called me a lifelong lowlife. I smiled and kept listening.

“Asians have no respect, it’s all about their clan. Somebody takes a shit in front of the store, they leave it! You shit your pants in the store? White people throw you out. Asians just hurry you up! And they cook rats and nutrias and all kinds of strange animals, is disgusting! That’s why I want Master P to stay.”

I smiled weakly at him. “I can pretty much guarantee that Master P has never cooked or served any type of rodent in here.”

“Exactly! You know what a mess this store would be otherwise?”

I chose to let that question remain rhetorical.

MISTER Edamame hung out for two hours, telling me about the new, slightly illegal toilet. (It’s a tribute to middle age to see grown-ups this excited about a fucking toilet.) He told me a less-colorful personal history. No mentions of the Israeli Secret Service this time, just braggadocio regarding financial investments and good deeds done for unappreciative idiots. As we talked, I found him less irritating, and he went from gruff and superior-acting to softly smiling. I had never seen him with soft eyes before. By the time he left, he was talking about how he wanted to come work a couple shifts. “It looks like fun the way you do it!”

Fast-forward to Tuesday, today. I arose an hour earlier than usual, and woke up on the road. Chased half a Squib with a Rockstar for work purposes; I love stocking when I can get a good body-high going. I had put together a great meds-combination. The other managers, Master P, even the trainee that irritates everybody got a warm, happy smile from me. Eva and I pushed coolers around, filled them, cleaned the tops. (No more dead birds, but I’ve found about six bucks in loose change over the past week.) Two hours seemed like fifteen minutes. We got a lot done, easily, with time for pleasant conversation. We even paid some attention to the trainee. Trainee’s coming around. She’s stopped treating me like a doormat, which is a good way to get me to treat you nicely back. A couple more pleasant encounters, and I may stop rolling my eyes at her.

Art East and the boss came by. It seems to throw Master P for a loop when he sees me doing grunt-work outside of my usual hours. “I didn’t know Charles was here today!” I couldn’t tell if he was impressed or irritated, but he seemed happy to see me stocking with a fever pitch. (Pro tip: Save the busy-work for when the boss is watching.) Between schmoozing Art and dipping in and out of the office, I had no problem staying out of the boss’s path. I stayed within earshot for gossip, but not so close as to be obvious. Nothing too exciting going on. Eva and Uncle Cliffy are scrapping, because Uncle Cliffy wants Eva to do some goofy once-a-month product-order via text message, because Uncle Cliffy uses a flip-phone and says it’ll be too much work for him. Well, Eva has worked hard for her raises and promotions, and the general consensus among the rest of the company is that Uncle Cliffy only got a raise and promotion because she did. (Hired at the same time, with the same job description, but Cliffy has enough doctor’s notes and excuses that about all he does is get up early. Stocking, or basically anything away from the register, is “not my job.”

I’ve been getting better at doing those things that are “not his job.” I do his job, “not his job” and MY fucking job in an eight-hour shift. I do it every Wednesday. He huffed at Eva. “I won’t be doing you any favors anytime soon.”

“It’s not going to be much of a burden, since he won’t do any-ting I need him to do anyway!” He wasn’t quite out the door when she said that. I kept quiet. Diplomacy. Uncle Cliffy has been nice to me lately. He gets the beeper every few months, and I want him calling me on the phone, not calling me unpleasant names in the midnight air.

At the two-hour mark, I got a text from Festus. “You working?”

“Not anymore! Just got off.” He told me he was heading downtown, so I suggested he meet me at Sixth and Oak. I sat on a bench next to a pretty young lady, softly playing my harmonica. After a minute, she said, “Play a little louder so I can hear you?” Sure! I riffed while she told me her tale of whoa. We’d not previously met, to my knowledge, but within two minutes she was telling me about how she gave her Baby-Daddy blow jobs to get him to do child care. (It took all my restraint not to offer my child-rearing credentials.) I tore myself away when Festus showed up.

We wandered around for a bit, then he had to go to an appointment. It was a nice afternoon. I only worked two hours, but it’ll buy a week’s worth of groceries next month. And I looked good in front of the boss, which never hurts.

Best part? I am off tomorrow, freight day. I usually work the Waterfront Store by myself, doing freight while running a register, but not this week. One of the newbies gets that chore.

Go get ’em, tiger. It *is* your job.

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