The call came five minutes after I’d taken over the register at the Waterfront store. It was Eva Braun, manager of the Mothership, and newly-appointed author of the weekly work schedule. “How you doink, Cholls?” She has the cutest accent, one of the few German women who doesn’t sound like she’s scolding you when she speaks.
Unless, of course, she’s scolding you.
“Fine, assuming the new position.” I’d been spending most of my time at the Nightclub store, my de facto home. A full week on the Waterfront? Someone was being punished, and it wasn’t me. “So, is this schedule an ongoing thing, or am I back to the Nightclub soon?”
“You, sir, are there for the duration, my friend. You can control the idiots…”
Oh, goody. I’m back to clean up the neighborhood.
Lately she has been sleeping in the doorway of the restaurant next to the store. When it opened, and they put out planted trees and faux shrubberies, she walked up and said, “My, I love what they’ve done with my living room!” She laid out her blanket and curled up on the sidewalk amid the cacophony of a busy downtown sidewalk and went to sleep. She’s been doing it for almost a year, and it had been going well. So well, in fact, others decided they wanted to sleep there.
Enter Swamp Thing.
Swamp Thing’s real name is Richard, and he is nice enough, but he belongs in a rest home drunk tank, not on a sidewalk at midnight. He wallows in his own filth, shits wherever he feels like, and doesn’t bother unzipping when all those dollar-coffees kick in. (Festus has his own nickname for Swamp Thing: Piss in Boots.) I never see him drinking alcohol, or I could have him busted, but he is usually inebriated to the point of immobility. He has decided that Carol’s spot is big enough for the both of them.
Carol is not of a like mind.
It’s been a few months since I’ve been a regular here. I’ve missed writing. I still create in my head, while other forms of social media have distracted me and fed the creative brain. I love Twitter, even if it’s turning into a non-stop barrage of ads and nonsense. I love the concept of micro-blogging, and the immediacy of news, if you know who to follow.
But I need to pop the ol’ diary open, and put down more thoughts. It’s been a good if not great year, and I want to remember the happier times…
…And their sons.
This one’s going to the dogs.
People ask how I tolerate the assholes at work? The mouthy tough-guys who run up to you like they’re going to hit you? If they can get you to flinch, they think they can bully you. I stand steely-eyed and ask, “What’s your point?”
See, if you walk a third-of-a-mile in my shoes, you get a lot of practice with sons of bitches giving you a bunch of attitude…
I couldn’t help but flash back to the South Park episode where Cartman pretends to be retarded to win the Special Olympics. Last night’s Petty Criminal of the Day wasn’t that stupid, but there were some fairly hilarious moments.
I was training one of many new people. Fortunately, they get indoctrinated by several folks before me, so I get to observe and refine, making sure procedures are followed, how to problem-solve alone, etc… It also gives me time to roam without having to run a register or pay much attention to shoplifters.
On the other hand, it also gives me plenty of time to watch for shoplifters…
It had been a month since my altercation with Kevin, the dude who looks like the butt-baby of Samuel L Jackson and Fred Sanford. As the days passed, he became bolder. He would walk past, eyeing me and grinning. He would peek around the corner, and I would pretend not to see him, then watch in case he approached. (He wouldn’t. He’d go pester the store across the street.) He had Festus, the customer who does more store security than any worker, on high-alert. In fact, I began to worry about Festus’ safety.
This had to stop. I cannot live like I am being hunted. I figure I had three choices. I could do nothing, and let him run rough-shod all over me and the store, proving him right that I am the pussy he claims I am. Or, I could call the cops, press charges for simple assault, he would be out of jail in four hours and REALLY hating me. Or,
I could just kill him with my bare hands inside the store.
I get punched by random black guys all the time.
I wish I were kidding, but it’s true.
I was in a fight in 1989. It was pretty cool, I was tripping on acid and defended my home and women from a drunken intruder. I threw his ass down the stairs and left him half-paralyzed for six months. Sure, I felt like a tough guy, but it was silly, and it cost me an already-dead friendship. I’ve never been much of a scrapper, preferring to talk my way out of things. It’s worked well for twenty-five years.
But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do…
I’ve always been a creature of habit. When I find something that works, I stick with it. This can lead to ruts. I dislike ruts. This year has been a season of change. A LOT has changed. But, as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
This is the story of my 99-cent Ironman watch, and how it’s on its third life…
Man, I hate working days.
For thirty-plus years, I have worked nights. I love the swing shift. People off work and partying, they come to me for beer, cigarettes, and the things that make you not smell like beer and cigarettes. They stumble in, laugh, move on. It’s not like that in the daytime. Suits with entitlements are my biggest nemesis, along with the salesmen who try to dump unauthorized product on me when bosses aren’t around. I can tell a crackhead to piss off. If I say that to a guy in a suit, he has a “meaningful chat” with my boss, and I get a lecture about poor customer service.
Dr T’s hours have changed. He’s working a lot of the shifts I used to work. I’ve been cool with that. It’s an okay fit, although I think he prefers an earlier hour. I like that when I’m downtown on my off time, I can wander in and give him an obnoxious earful and he has to stay and listen.
Grinder has been pushing his authority, “getting his stink on things” as Uncle Cliffy puts it. Uncle Cliffy has been promoted to “Store Supervisor”, a new position that means he does manager work at part-time pay. It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it. He and Eva Braun, the new “Store Supervisor” of The Mothership, are hitting it off, forming a new alliance. All these kids I’ve trained and gotten jobs now outrank me.
Rumpole has worked day shift. I was put on graveyard for a couple weeks. I’ve done some day shifts, but this week is ridiculous. Grinder’s schedule-making skills need polishing in the worst way, it’s like he throws a handful of color-coded darts at the time-sheet and says, “Here ya go!” For example, tonight I work until midnight, or 2:45 AM if Dr T doesn’t check his phone messages. Or hasn’t paid his phone bill. Then I am scheduled back at 9 AM at The Mothership for an all-day shift during Cinco de Mayo. At least it’ll be busy.
Rain came by last night, after calling me to say she’d be on the last bus. It was like old times; she did her thing on the bed while I watched the rerun of the Blazers game. She wore my Oregon Lottery promo shirt and a pair of see-through panties. She had to leave early, and I wish she could have stayed a bit longer. She was looking mighty fine in them hip-huggers.
I would have invited her back tonight, except for that whole “be on deck at 9 AM” thing. When I told Meg what was up, she said, “I’ll just expect you.” So tonight, after work and before work, I have a slumber party date with my mistress. She promised to make me dinner. If I can do anything to relieve her stress, I will be happy to do so. I shaved and put on clean underwear. Fancy!
And then, after work, if she’s around, I will invite Rain home to cozy up for a night. Crazy as it sounds, I’ve missed her.
And so begins my 16 in 26 shift. I’ll see you at the end of it. Yes, that’s a rocket in my pocket.
And yes, I am happy to see you.
People ask me, “Aren’t you scared?” when crazy incidents happen at work.
For the most part, no. I have seen (and done) a lot in my thirty-plus years as a cashier. I had another ‘first’ last week, in fact. (More on that later.) What happened, that wasn’t a first, but hasn’t happened in a long time, is…
I got punched in the face.