GETTING MORE TALE #866: Untitled ’94
I didn’t go to the cottage at all in 1994. I was busy with school, then in the summer met a girl, and finally got a job at the Record Store. That was all the distraction I needed to stay home. Girls trumped trees and water. Priorities!
The first summer at the Record Store was a brand new world for me. New faces, new names, new music. Lots and lots of cleaning. “If there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean!” went the saying. A lot of the job was tedious. Wednesday was “tape check day”. From A to Z we had to check every cassette in the store and make sure the magnetic security strip was firmly attached. If it wasn’t, we’d get some scotch tape and secure that sucker. My hands always felt so grungy after a day of tape checking.
There was always filing to do, and new stock to price. When we sold a tape or CD, we had to know to re-order them. How was this accomplished? Tapes had a little clear plastic sticker on the back. It had the artist, title and record label written on it. When we sold a tape, we had to file these stickers in a photo album, sorted by record label. Then when the boss was ready to order more stock, he’d flip through the photo album and read the stickers. When we re-stocked the tapes, we had to put the clear sticker back on. CDs were similar except they were in clear bags with the info written on them. The bags were used to re-order discs.
When something new was released, we had to make the stickers and bags for those items too. I remember when T-Rev was hired, he used to leave special releases for me to do the tags and bags for. Kiss Unplugged he specifically left for me, because it was the first Kiss album released during my tenure at the store. The first of many. I drew the Kiss logo on the tag and smiled. Small things like that meant something to me, though after waiting so long for a new Kiss album, it was quite anti-climactic.
We had also started selling used CDs. Some of the first I acquired with my staff discount were Sven Gali’s debut and Chronicles by Rush. Weirdly, I was still buying a lot of cassettes. Kim Mitchell’s brand new one Itch got the staff discount treatment.
In the early days the boss used to give us weekly homework. We had to come in with a current top 10 list every week. This was to ensure that we were familiar with the current hits that people would be asking for. T-Rev did his homework; I did not. I felt like I already knew it all. Before I started at the store, I used to keep on top of “everything the kids were listening to”. I guess the boss recognized that since he didn’t bug me for my homework every week.
I was glad to have this job at the Record Store when in late ’94 my relationship blew up in my face. I compensated by throwing myself into the store. I came in early every day so I could review all the new stock. Business was fairly slow most nights. We were not in a high-traffic mall. We had our regulars and we had our time-wasters. The drunks from the restaurant next door were interesting. Some of them even spent money! None of them were problems, just time wasters. “Tire kickers” as I call them now. Then there were a couple notable janitors. Trevor Atkinson from highschool was one. I wonder what ever happened to that guy? He was certainly a time waster. It’s my theory that he was the cause of the first customer complaint I ever received.
Working in that Record Store was pretty much my whole social life. I didn’t know anybody at school anymore. Through the store, I reconnected with highschool and neighborhood friends that dropped by to shop. Guys like George Balasz and Scott Peddle. The boss didn’t like his employees to socialize at work, but what could you do? It was the local Record Store and I was working in it. I knew lots of people. He socialized far more than I did, but he was “the boss” so nobody could give him shit for it. When one of his friends was in the store, he’d chat it up and get me to take care of everyone else. “Do as I say, not as I do” was another one of his famous demoralizing sayings.
But it was a good job. The boss used to say he was “firm but fair”. For the first few years that was true. For a retail job it was pretty good. We got to listen to music during the shift and we felt like part of a team. It was a special place during a special time. I’m glad I was there before we grew, because that’s when things changed for the worse, from an employment point of view. But for that brief period in the beginning, the Record Store was a part of my identity. I’m still really proud of everything that we did there as a team. I may be critical of some things, but I’m proud of being there on the ground floor when things were about to take off.