Tuesday 10 May 2011

Money Can't Buy Happiness

When I was in high school my parents felt that I should get a job. I guess it was to build character, a good work ethic and to become a contributing member of society at large. My personal belief is that they just wanted to get me out of the house. I can’t really blame them, I am pretty sure that it was just a matter of time before I got myself and their house into trouble.

Now, I had always worked during the summer months and if I was careful and lucky the money I made and saved would last until the next summer. That was not always the case and sometimes I would need to ask my dad for some money. Dad lived through the Depression and if his attitude towards money, specifically loaning money, were any indication the Depression was still on. I knew all about depression, try going on a date without any cash. I wasn’t good enough looking, funny enough or hung well enough for any girls to pay my way.

Job it is then.

The truth of the matter is that I needed the money more for music and drugs. Didn’t everyone?

I don’t know how I got the job, but I became a security person at Kresge’s. I got to wear a uniform which in those days meant I bought a shirt with a badge that said Kresge Security with money that I hadn’t earned yet. I had just accepted the job and I was already in the hole. Oh, this is going to work out well! My job consisted of standing at the front door and when people came into the store with a bag from another store I would take my trusty stapler and put no less than four and no more than six staples in each bag. Seems pretty simple!

It wasn’t. People get very possessive about their bags and since this was a new policy I had to explain said new policy to everyone that came in. Some of the customers took this as a challenge to mess with the new kid. “But it’s a return, so do I need to get it stapled just to have it opened right there?” Right there was over my shoulder at the return counter. I told the customer no and then he started walking into the store. “Hey! You can’t go into the store with the bag not stapled!” Do I chase this guy and let everyone else walk into the store and not get stapled? Ten minutes and I already don’t give a shit!

The manager came over after a few hours and told me what a great job I was doing. Ahhhh….thanks. “If you see anyone shoplifting then you chase him outside and hold him until help comes.” Ahhhh…OK. What a dick! Like I am going to wrestle a thief to the ground for minimum wage. From that moment on I watched everyone like a hawk.

It is funny how many people steal things and if you are observant you can watch them do it while you staple the bags of honest customers. One particularily inventive thief went into the back of the store and came to the front with a curtain rod when I had my back turned and was talking to another employee. “Excuse me! Would you mind holding this for me while I go into the store?” What a nervy SOB! “You bet!” I didn’t owe the store anything.

It was a good job except that the stapleing really began to get to me. Now, a few weeks had passed and I decided to cast my net a little further. Eatons was opening a discount store called Horizon. They were paying ten cents more an hour and I guess because of my security experience I was hired. I quit Kresge’s as soon as I could. They can shove that stapler up their collective butts, because I have a real job with a future in a new, growing company.

I showed up early on the first day and waited till the rest of the new hires arrived. The manager marched us out to the cash registers and told us that because of the anticipated rush we would be bagging the customers purchases. Oh, and one more thing, once you have bagged the purchased items, be sure to staple the bags closed. No fewer that four staples and no more than six.

Huh? Well, if I thought that the last job was mind numbing this one was paralytic! Time just crawled by! At long last the manager came over and told me it was break time. Five minutes! “Thirty five minutes?” I said. “No, five.” I didn’t need five minutes, how long does it take to walk out the door and never look back? I guess my horizon didn’t look that rosy. About three months later I got a letter from Horizon thanking me for my interest in working with them and they will keep my name on file.

The great thing about a terrible job is that when you leave or get fired you are really happy. Best day of my life. Yeah, still no money, but money can’t buy happiness!

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