RECORD STORE TALES Part 290: The Vacuum Conflict
You’re always going to get conflict in any work place, and a CD store is no different. Back in the early days we hired this kid named DJ Donnie D. He was a regular customer that was well liked, so the boss gave him a chance.
Donnie was a good kid, a bit of a neat-freak perhaps, but that’s not a bad kind of person to have around a store. As we expanded, we hired another new kid named Jason. Donnie and Jason did not really get along all that well. Donnie was often criticizing Jason’s musical selections and work habits. He thought Jason was lazy, often leaving work undone for someone else to finish. Donnie seemed to develop a bit of a personal grudge because he always made sure the store was left as he found it: Clean, things put away, not left out for others to tidy up.
What really chapped Donnie’s ass was that Jason didn’t like to vacuum. We had to vacuum before closing every night and Donnie was certain that Jason didn’t do it when he was closing. Jason said he did of course but Donnie had his doubts and took it upon himself to prove he was right.
Taking matters into his own hands, Donnie set an elaborate snare for Jason.
We stored our vacuum cleaner in a cabinet underneath the Classical section. Before Jason’s shift, Donnie tied a hair to the door of the cabinet. If Jason opened the door, it would break. If he did not, the hair would be intact the following morning, thus proving that Jason was averse to vacuuming.
I know you’re dying to know what happens next. I’ll drag this out a little longer.
Donnie really did take this kind of thing really seriously. I can’t say anything bad about Donnie, I think he always had good intentions. For example, his neatness obsession extended to painting the bathroom in our brand new store one night. He wasn’t told to paint it, he just decided to make it look nice. I came in one morning to find it neat & tidy, and painted from floor to ceiling! The bathroom also doubled as a storage room. He had organized all the supplies and tools, marking their new storage places. He had even drawn the outline of a hammer and labelled the spot “HAMMER”. Same with “SHOVEL”; it too had an outline of a shovel where it was to be hung. The boss flipped on him, but Donnie meant well. That’s just how he was.
So what about the vacuum cleaner?
The hair was intact, unbroken. Jason said that he vacuumed that night, but he obviously had not. Busted!
I know its funny in retrospect but these things matter so much at the time.
Yeah they do. It mattered to Donnie. I wasn’t a manager yet so I didn’t care; I knew I did my job.
I’ll take Donny over Jason any day
Me too. They both had shitty taste in music though.
Wow. Well, good on him for getting the proof, I guess! But sometimes those personal things can go too far. A workplace is where everyone brings all their everything, how they live at home, their personalities all crash into each other in a work-place. But that melting pot needs to melt. People are different, do things differently, a bit of understanding is needed. I’m not condoning his not vacuuming when he said he had. You have a job to do, so do it. But if we have to spend time in a work-place, it’s better to just try to get along and not lose sight of why everyone is there, the common goal (in this case, to sell CDs). Elaborate traps are a bit over the top, aren’t they?
Also, why would the boss flip out at him about the paint job? Seems a random thing to be mad about, unless other work was going undone in favour of it.
I can only guess that the shovel was for clearing snow? Otherwise, I’m mystified as to why a record store would need one (short of whacking the occasional unruly customer, perhaps). Also, that sumo picture is… disturbing. The Dude is enjoying that suction a little bit too much…
Lots of great things here to comment on!
Yeah, it was a bit over the top. Jason and Donnie didn’t really get along. We actually had to separate them and put them in different stores. I got Donnie, someone else got Jason and I was happy with the way that worked out.
Good question about the boss flipping out. His concern was that customers weren’t being served properly if he was in the back painting. But it was a slow night and the person working the floor had it covered, according to Donnie. He wasn’t a lazy guy, he liked to work, so he painted the bathroom. My boss assumed that it happened at the cost of sales. I doubt that it did.
The shovel WAS for clearing snow. A kid tried to steal it once.
Separating them was a good idea, I guess. But I maintain my original point. If you gotta spend 40 hours a week in a place, it’s cool to be yourself but remember that not everyone thinks like you, so find some common ground and just get the frickin’ job done.
That boss sounds like they’d flip out over anything. “What?! You did something to better the store?!?! How DARE you?!” Oh man. Chill pill time, Dude.
The only other thing I could imagine a CD needing a shovel for would be the occasional clearing out of backstock Celine Dion CDs.
You’re right, it’s too bad not everyone can just co-exist in a workplace. I never liked staff “feuds” and unfortunately I had a few to deal with.
I should clarify, I did have multiple bosses, and the bosses in those two stories were two different bosses. Still, a lot of bosses like initiative — just not too much initiative.
Klassik Kwote Part III, #5: Kid steals shovel.
See, again. You caught hell for retrieving the shovel. That boss was waaaaay too angry, and it had a hair trigger, too. That’s just dumb. Did they ever take a vacation? Travel to get some perspective? It’s pretty easy to get up yer own butt if you don’t take a break and look around once in a while.
Some people think they’re great at being in charge and worthy of the position when, in reality, they absolutely are not. They can be decent people, might even own the place, but the job (and the stress of it all) makes them cranky and irrational. I have had many bosses who couldn’t deal well. They’re all the same. My last job, we had an expression: “Don’t poke the bear.” Meaning do not approach the boss. If at all possible, solve the problem yourself. Don’t poke the bear.
Used to work at the main warehouse for SamtheRecordScam, and sweeping/vacuuming chores caused raging prank wars. I never minded- first time I swept as “the new guy” I found an imported cassette of Soft Machine “Bundles” under a shelf stack.
Two guys I guess I’ll call “Kenny” & “Spenny” hated chores, and each other, so much the vacuum eventually had to be replaced. First, Kenny tore the bag so the interior got clogged, Spenny retaliated by wedging a monster paper clip in the brush heads (made a sound like Celine Dion scat singing with a spastic snare drum army) Kenny managed to rewire it to blow instead of suck, but Spenny’s re-wiring attempt resulted in a loud bang from the fuse panel, clouds of rubbery black smoke, and a furious visit from Mr Sniderman himself! Both Kenny & Spenny got the boot, and the carcass of the vacuum got mounted on the wall as a warning and dubbed “Motorhead’s Dick Barber” (200 Motels reference)
Ahh you worked at Sam’s eh! Man I spent hours in that store, per visit!
Great story. The fact that Mr. Sniderman himself had to get involved…wow. That’s some serious prank wars! You definitely never want to cause smoke coming from a fuse panel!
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“Drove downtown in the rain / 9:30 on a Tuesday night / just to check out the late night record shop…”
Man, I wish record shops around here were open past 9:30!