Sunday, September 25, 2005

I’m not capable, I’m not thrifty, I can not fix it. “Oh, Greg’ll fix it.” No, the hell he will, he can’t! I don’t have that guy gene, I don’t understand tools. For as much as I know about being a guy I might as well go to a…tool store, a hardware store wearing a tiara. “Hi, do you have a bang-bang to put the pointy thing in for the…I need a grab-hold and a twisty because I’m putting up some…help! Curtains!”
-Greg Behrendt

Most of the time it's not bad, apart from the agony of de feet every night. Just stroll the section, keep things tidy, and be ready to direct people to where the pine shelving unit would be if it hadn't sold out in two hours on Grand Opening day. It only really gets bad when I have to know about the stuff we sell. I mean, I learn--it's officially fall now, and out of necessity I'm becoming an expert on weatherstripping--but what am I supposed to do when Tim Taylor comes in and says "I have a 3/8ths torque flanger with internal widget fastener; is does this framistat have enough Jorson Units to power a self-repeating framistat renoberator?" At which point I frantically scan the box for any mention of framistats.

Fortunately, there's plenty of people who are veritably steeped in Jorson Units; the Department Manager is a gravelly old bastard who should be named Buck. Hell, I'm naming him Buck. Lenny (my age) Cappy (Newfie somewhere north of 40), and Junior (teenage so-and-so who worked in construction) are usually nearby. The key is hang by when they're breaking it down, so I learn how much torque a torque flanger could flange if a torque flanger could flange torque.

The only ones that make me go spare are the ones who were once introduced to english at a party, but are otherwise unacquainted with it, who are looking for something very specific that they saw at our store 7 months ago (remember, we Grand Opened two weeks ago), that they can't describe and whose function they cannot sufficiently relate, but they're sure they saw it here, and what is it used for anyway? So I gradually decode the layers of verbal encryption and figure out what they're looking for, lead them all over the store, and finally have to tell them that it's something we don't carry. Yes, I know, sir, but we're one of the smaller stores in the chain and there are some items we just don't have here.

On the matter of the store's size, a belated note to corporate: don't build small when there's a Home Depot at the other end of the street.

A few other things to get off my chest. The lock that's on sale for seven bucks, from a manufacturer we don't usually carry, is not going to be top-of-the-line. This air compressor costs less than that one, even though it comes with a brad nailer, because this is the air compressor that's on sale as a loss leader, and that one's a good one from a reputable manufacturer. Stay off the ladders. It's on aisle 4. I'm putting that on the back of my vest: IT'S ON AISLE 4.

Now that the bitching's done...

Despite what my feet will tell you, it's not so bad. I AM learning the tool talk, and being a new store the worker-money ennui hasn't set in yet. Lots of calling people "buddy" or "dude" and not "dog." High-fives and handshakes, even with the store manager. I even went drinking with a bunch of them earlier tonight. Over the course of a couple pints of Guinness, I (with a teammate, I admit) set a six-game pool winning streak, the last three of which were actual victories, and not just the other team scratching the 8-ball. He'd set 'em up, we'd put 'em in, and I'd sink the ol' blackball smooth as you please. I was Dave Lister that night at the Aigburth Arms. Bring on the white hole.

No, it's not the job I wanted (and you better believe I'm still checking Craigslist every day) but it's not so bad, and I'm determined to keep it that way.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

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