Once again, I found myself on the road. CDs were not completely dead and we were still expanding. We opened a new location in Barrie, Ontario. It seemed like a good location, and the store had a good layout, with plenty of space and a huge back room for storage. The shelves were well stocked and the place looked great. They didn’t have a lot of great, unique stock yet: It usually took time for a store to grow that way.
As usual I was chosen to do a large share of staff training. I was sent there for 7 days in total, split over two weekends, training 3 or 4 people. The higher-ups who sent me there chose not to be there on the weekends themselves. That’s why they sent me. I understand that this arrangement was considered “funny” by those who didn’t have to spend their weekends there, or so I was told.
I packed a cooler bag full of lunches and drinks so I wouldn’t have to keep buying food and charging it to the company. It was easier than running out for food, and it was better for the company. I was the only one who did this. All I charged to the company at the end of it all was one meal at Burger King, while others charged wine and expensive meals, so it was alleged to me. I didn’t even charge my use of Highway 407 to the company, since it was my personal, last-minute choice to use the highway to get home faster. Nobody cleared me to use it, therefore I chose to foot the bill myself.
I was also at the tail end of another relationship. I was going out with this chick who called herself “JJJewels”. She was generous and fun, but not ready to be in a relationship with a guy who hated his job and every waking moment he was at work. I don’t hold the breakup against her, just the way she went about it.
After a grueling 12 hour day of training and work, I checked into my hotel room. I wandered around for 20 minutes lugging my cooler bag full of food before I found the actual room. I went to bed immediately, exhausted, when my cell phone rang. It was JJJulie. She was dumping me over the phone while I was in a hotel room in Barrie. I couldn’t believe it!
I sat there in bed, just shocked that anybody could dump another person while sitting miserably alone in a hotel room in Barrie. On the other hand, it was inevitable, so there was also a sense of relief.
I called my good friend Shannon the next day and told her what had happened. It was now Saturday, and I was really lonely stuck in a Barrie hotel room with nobody around to talk to. The room had two beds, so I asked Shannon if she wanted to come up Saturday night. Kindly, she grabbed some board games and drove up. That little gesture meant a lot and it was the only ray of light in the whole time I was in Barrie. The others who came to Barrie during the week were already with their friends and significant others, because they worked with them. I took Shannon out to dinner at Red Lobster (paying for it myself, not asking the company to pay for my dinner) and we played Monopoly. It really helped a lot.
That night, we were awakened by the sound of a hockey team partying in the hallways. I woke up, and stuck my face out the door and scowled. There were half a dozen hockey players.
“Hey man! Want a beer?”
I shook my head and closed the door. They got the hint and moved it into their room.
The following weekend was much like the first; a cooler bag full of lunches, driving up Highway 400 with Gordon Lightfoot, and Guns N’ Roses on the deck. The second weekend was marginally better than the first; at least I didn’t get dumped this time. I didn’t want to spend another Saturday night in a hotel room though. Saturday night we closed at 6, and we didn’t open again until Sunday at noon. I wanted to drive home Saturday night and spend it at home, not alone in exile in Barrie. However the hotel room was already reserved for Friday and Saturday nights.
I told my boss that I preferred driving home on Saturday night, and back on Sunday. I’m guessing the hotel room must have been cheaper than the mileage, because he said no. I should have just done it anyway, but I followed orders and spent a miserably lonely Saturday night by myself in Barrie. It just indicated to me that the powers that be had lost the plot and had no understanding of morale. It would have done me a world of good to spend Saturday night with friends, like everyone else does.
When it was all said and done, after two weeks of no time off, and two weekends of exile in Barrie, they rewarded me with a Monday off. I spent that bitter Monday in my pajamas watching movies and stuffing my face full of junk food. The day was over before I knew it, my one day of rest was done. Back to the grind.
If memory serves, this was the very last time we opened a new store. The decline of brick-and-mortar music sales meant that I wouldn’t be doing anymore of those weekend training missions. Thank God!