It’s funny how you think of things and the initial thoughts that come are the ones based on the strongest feelings. The highs and lows, if you will, of a thing. Memories of different jobs evoke such a wide variety of what was happening at the time.
That summer of 1985, I don’t think I was very focused on working. I have those fleeting memories of Taco Bell, but that’s about it. I remember the shows I went to and who I was hanging out with much more. Truth be told, I really didn’t want to work. I wanted to hang out and listen to music, chase girls, and smoke weed.
Back in April, I wrote about my second job, which was at McDonald’s on 59th Avenue and Bell. I remember next to nothing about those few weeks, maybe three, that I worked there before quitting when I decided to move across town and live with my mom. One thing that does pop up about that time is how much I wanted to snag as many apple pies as I could each time I worked.
I managed a nice six month or so break from having a “real” job before I got hired at Arby’s to get my mom off my back. I probably put in a little time at Easy Street to make a few bucks here and there and I remember Ben and I getting the occasional odd jobs through our moms to make other money happen. These usually involved some type of cleaning.
As you may recall, that lasted one night because my buddy, Bill, had his first gig with Response and I wasn’t going to miss it. I got the uniform and then turned it in a week later. I continued to occasionally eat there and laugh about my “one night stand.”
When senior year began, I was part of the DECA program at Camelback. I cared so much about this that I never bothered to learn what DECA stood for. Part of being in the class was that they helped you get a job, and you got credit for working. My job was at Sears at Colonnade.
I was assigned to the hardware department, and I also learned how to do the paint section, too. I would work in the afternoons a lot since I got out of school at noon. I also had to work evenings and weekends, but since Sears closed at 9pm, I didn’t miss out on much of my social life. I also had a steady paycheck so I could afford to do all the things I shouldn’t have been doing.
I did kind of like working there, though. I had to wear a collared shirt and look halfway presentable, but I could still wear my punk rock shoes, creepers or monkey boots, and pegged pants. They frowned on eyeliner for the guys, but sometimes I would still wear it. I was so edgy.
Most of the time I was just answering customers questions. I didn’t work the register a ton, but that was okay. It was actually better to be out on the floor. I have zero recollection of what my manager was like. Blanked that one out, I guess. Eventually I got good at working the paint mixing machine, so I spent more and more time in the paint department. That was a lot of fun.
People loved talking about the color they were going to paint their house. I don’t know how many times I told people, “Navajo White is a very popular color. We can’t keep it on the shelves.” It was true, too. 1986 was a great year for Navajo White at Sears. I especially liked getting to mix the paint because the machine Sears had allowed you to see the mixing process.
The colors were spectacular. On several occasions, my friends and I would synchronize our acid dropping time so that we would be on the same page, and I got more and more adventurous about how early I would drop my tab. There were a few times where I mixed up some paint just to look at the colors.
You could also hide in the corner of the paint department because none of the cameras could see you there. This allowed for extra long breaks because if a manager couldn’t find you, you could just say you were in paint or helping a customer out to their car with their paint. This happened a lot, too.
On Sundays there would only be one manager for the whole store, so if it wasn’t my manager (who I still don’t recall), I could literally take a three-hour lunch without clocking out. We all covered for each other, too, so no one was going to rat you out on a Sunday. I would go down to the other side of the mall and play video games or make the rounds and talk to my friends who worked in other stores. There was no shortage of things to do to help a Sunday pass.
Eventually, though, I had to give up my Sears job because I sort of stopped going to the daily class at school and I got dropped. The teacher did not appreciate my lack of dedication to the class, especially after I was voted in as a DECA officer, too. I was secretary, I think, or treasurer. If I would have gone to one of the meetings, I probably would remember better. I did enjoy my DECA classmates, though. Eddie and Barb ended up being good friends of mine for a while after that.
Getting kicked out and having to quit my school/work job, though, was not before I endured my first time being sexually harassed at work. One day I was helping a gay man out with a small hand vacuum. He had questions about it that I couldn’t answer so we took it out of the box to see if it had whatever feature he was looking for or something.
He decided to buy it and I was putting it back in the box but the fucking thing would just not go back in right. I kept trying and trying and was getting embarrassed. He said, “Just spit on it. It’ll go in.” He also giggled like a schoolgirl after he said that. Initially, it did not dawn on me what he was talking about, but it made me feel uncomfortable. I told my friends about it later and they just laughed and laughed.
It finally sunk in.
See you tomorrow.
It was this Sears, but a good amount of years later. I worked there from September 1986 until around Thanksgiving or so. Now there is a Best Buy there.