Monday, September 27, 2004

We have a new restaurant in the food court at work. It's the creatively-named Panda IV, now occupying the space formerly held by another Asian restaurant. Like its unsuccessful predecessor, Panda IV specializes in Chinese food but also features a decent lineup of Japanese fare. The only problem is that it's still a Chinese cook making the Japanese food, so it's never quite right. The teriyaki chicken, for example, should be grilled in teriyaki sauce so that it becomes a sticky, dark glaze that seeps into the meat. Here we get steamed, sliced chicken with a thin teriyaki-esque sauce poured cold on top of it. Oh well, at least they have eel.

Rod came in today to pick up his Nifelheim disc. Last week it was the mighty Witchfinder General, a group from the early 80s that basically rips off Black Sabbath in a loving way and features busty naked lasses wearing 1700s garb on the album covers. The Rod-man had an interesting conundrum which he shared with me last week. He had a Friday night coming up where he had to choose whether to 1) drive his father to the racetrack so his dad could race, or 2) attend a Dee Snider concert. I wish I could've been more help but it was beyond my feeble capacities as a decision maker. I guess my only question would be, how is his dad a racecar driver that can't drive himself somewhere? That came to me after he left. Maybe it has something to do with being too tired to drive home after circling the oval track all evening.

See you later, amigos.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Not much new to report. It's been dead here all week; no customers equals no new stories. I did want to mention one thing though: my friend Ed does an online autobio comic called Sob Story and the latest round of strips have been about Dead Horse, a manager where he works. Ed's been nice enough to check out my blog and I figure the least I can do is plug his comic in return. Besides, it's really good! Here are a few of my favorites:

Would you like BBQ or honey mustard with that?

It's all in how you look at it

I know it's silly but it made me laugh anyway

I have lived this many times

See it's ironic because Rob Halford's actually gay


Sunday, September 19, 2004

Greetings, bonehead here. Hope you're all having a thrilling day, night, or whatever it might be when you read this. If you aren't, then strap yourself in and prepare to white-knuckle your armrest because right now it's time for:

Great Moments In Matt History

I've always enjoyed the storytelling magic of my friend Matty so I figured why not let him take the reins today? Here's a tale from his gig at a Boston video store. -Tim


I recently completed training for a "Shift Leader" promotion at the store (a dollar more an hour, "whoop-de-shit"). This means I get to stay there till 2:00 am some mornings -- which is cool, but I feel a bit like a vampire being on the night-shift for the first time since the chocolate factory. I got a call that night at about 11:45pm from the girls at the store (ages 21 and 19) who were closing that night. There was a weird lurker in the tapes asking people for money and acting spacey, then hanging around at the counter for as if waitng customers to leave and asking the girls to talk to him alone "quietly, upstairs somewhere." I get the call and the shift leader on duty (the 21 year old) girl tells me "Um, there's a... gentleman... who should talk to... a manager... here, um..." I could hear the wavering in her voice and asked "Is he right there? Are you being robbed?" Her reply: "Yeah...maybe."

Like an excited dumbass I grab my stabby-stick -- a broken-off umbrella handle with a pointy end -- and run like hell toward the store. I get there and he's like "let's talk upstairs." I'm like "No, let's talk right here by the door." He feeds me some bullshit story about how he has family in Roxbury, was recently jacked in the street having all his money stolen (despite wearing $200 sneakers and $80 jeans, he pointed out to me). He says he wants to get one of the ten dollar buses from Chinatown to NYC, to get back home with his family... very quietly, softly moving his hands around his pockets, saying, "I needs some money."

After quietly nodding, smiling and listening to him go on for about five solid minutes (and keeping my hand on the stabby-stick handle in my pocket at all times), I just said "well, I have no money and we can be fired for just handing out cash from the store. Sorry we can't help you, take care." Shut 'em down fast and final is my rule. He quietly says "okay, man, take care" and all that, and shuffles toward the door. Then the Police showed up.

The Shift Leader (the 21 year old at the store) had called them while the guy and I were by the door. I have to admit, I was glad. The guy had the vibe of a Heroin User in need of Fix Money, we agreed later on. The Cops told us he carried no I.D., had just had a court appearance two days prior (we weren't told why) and a local address in Roxbury. They didn't hold him but said we did the right thing by calling the police considering the robbery crimes in the area; a CVS manager was killed a month ago or so by the Hospitals. They told the suspect he was banned from the store and if he entered again he'd be taken in for Loitering with Criminal Intent or something. This shouldn't be a problem since he's supposedly "going home to NY" right? Then why'd he walk past the window of the store again at 2:00 pm the next afternoon?


Thursday, September 16, 2004

We just got in an issue of YET ANOTHER new men's magazine. First there was Maxim out there for twenty-something "metrosexuals" to get their fix of bikini girls and haute couture. Then there was Stuff, FHM, Diesel, and a dozen other ones popping up to cash in on that all-important Bored Heterosexual Commuter market. This new one's called "Giant" and it features the usual mix of funnymen (actor Jack Black's got the cover), babes (actresses Christina Ricci & Jessica Biel), and 18-35 demographic nostalgia (Star Wars, Magnum P.I. and video games). It's really funny to open it up and see how these magazines all ape each other in their ADHD layouts. Every page has to have thirteen things happening at once. Page 48's Björk interview crams her responses into the left half of the page so they can fill the rest with tilted photos, a tiny "Resume", an admonishment to check out her new album review elsewhere in the mag, and then three more soundbite anecdotes hanging out on the right side. The whole freaking issue is like that: the eye never knows where to look. It's like watching modern television in convenient printed form. Are all straight young males suffering from attention-deficit disorder, or do the suits just think so?


Sunday, September 12, 2004

I've said a lot of hurtful things about this gig over the past year but I've really got to hand it to retail. A vacuum cleaner can suck and blow, but not simultaneously. Only retail has the capacity to do both at the same time, and that's a real accomplishment. Sort of like my managing to stay awake through this entire shift. Sundays are a very odd animal. You can't always tell in advance whether they'll be busy or dead, and today definitely falls into the latter category.

There are a few ways to call a day before it starts. Today, for example is sunny. More people come inside to shop when it's rainy. That's basic retail, nothing special. Other factors include the time of year: obviously the holidays are busy, but summer has its own rhythm. Early summer is dead, then as we move into July and August the vacationers arrive up here in NH and you get a lot of strangers. September the kids are back in school and it's dead for a month or two before the rush.

Damn, I'm boring myself here, so I can only imagine how painful it is for you to read. What can I say? This is all I have to do for the last hour of work today. I like it though, these quiet times when I can type up my thoughts or catch up on e-mail. It really backfired today though. I'd hoped to keep my head occupied with pointless busywork but with nothing serious to do I was left waiting for the Björk girl to come back in. She's this young lady who bought the new Björk album last week. That in itself is pretty cool and it caught my attention, then she kept smiling shyly and every time I looked up she was looking at me. It's always disturbing to have someone treat you like a human being when you're on the job. Next time she comes in I just know I'm going to do something idiotic like invite her to coffee. And why am I telling this to the world?

Woah! I just sold a book by someone named Verlyn Klinkenborg. That alone made the day worthwhile.


Monday, September 06, 2004


Well, here I am in the early stages of my 8-hour Labor Day shift here at the shop. Yes indeed, nothing like pulling the 1 - 9 shift on a holiday. It wouldn't be such a big deal except that I tried calling our sister stores (we're a little three-store chain of sorts) and they're both closed. Pretty weak if'n you ask me, Jethro. Which you did not but I refuse to shut up so pipe down you Yankee. And tell that bastard Sherman to stop marching to the sea. It's getting the horses all riled up.

But I digress. That's the worst thing about retail, the hours. Nights, weekends, holidays, if your friends are taking a day trip to hit the beach you can be damn sure you'll have to work. Weddings, funerals, I've missed them all in the name of minimum wage. Calling in sick? Yeah, that's a lovely dream but your rose-tinted glasses don't come in my prescription daddy-o. I have bills to pay (several overdue at this point) and my paid vacation time is but a distant memory shrouded in the mists of time.

Still, this gig is waaayyy better than the jobs of old. I don't envy our man Dan, O He Of the Independent Movie Theater. The movie business is a no-days-off proposition. I learned that the hard way as I ripped tickets on Christmas day a few years back. At least Dan will be in charge of the place so he can call a day off if he needs one. We were under the corporate thumb of Hoyt's Cinemas, run by a bunch of nutty Australians. The theater manager, a good friend of mine, had to go to corporate retreats and watch footage of rugby matches on a big-screen TV while Tina Turner played in the background.

TV: You're simply the best! Better than allll the rest! Oh, and it looks like Scrugg McBiff has been called for a rubbing foul! Look at him go, kicking the referee in the groin. What charisma!

Hoyts Chairman: Y'see that, mate? That's Aussie spirit. I want to see the same tenacity from you lot at our theaters. Now get out there and upsell some bloody popcorns ya wanks!

I wish I could say we started kicking problematic customers in the groin, but I did get called for a few rubbing fouls after that.

Getting back to today, there are a surprising amount of shoppers in here. I guess the local college has the day off. Plenty of curvaceous eye candy and riveting musical analyses like, "Dude, you should totally buy that. It rocks." Let's see, only...six hours and thirty-eight minutes to go. My kingdom for a noose or a big bottle of horse tranquilizers. At least pharmacists don't get the day off either. That's something at least.


Thursday, September 02, 2004

Femme: What are you doing? Are you hitting me?

Bambino: Yeeaahhhh... *giggle*

Femme: Should you be doing that?

Bambino: *pause* ...yeah? *giggle*

Femme: Ya want me to hit you?

Bambino: *pause* No. *whimper*

Femme: 'Cuz I'll hit you a lot harder. You don't hit grammy.


Man, old ladies are getting tough.


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