RECORD STORE TAILS #1006: Too Many Cooks
Every so often, a thought or a memory has casting my mind back onto the old Record Store Days.
You probably don’t often think about a job that you quit almost 20 years ago now. Then again, you probably didn’t work in a Record Store.
It was the Dream Job. I always wanted to work in some way with music, and selling CDs was pretty high on my list. It truly was everything I had hoped for. I acquired hundreds of rare treasures, out of print CDs and things I never knew existed. I got them with a discount, and I got to listen to music every day. Lifelong friends were made. That’s something I never thought would happen from a workplace.
The Record Store also put me back in touch with friends I had seen in years. The Store was located at the local mall, the epicenter of the neighbourhood. Banking, groceries, and everything you needed could be found at the Mall, and so a lot of the people I went to school with drifted in through my doors. Some managed to stay in touch since then, thanks to social media. I would not trade those connections for the world.
I know a young fella who now works at one of the many stores that I did time in. It was one of my least favourite stores, in fact. I hated working at that location. The customers were not, shall we say, the upper crust of society in that neighbourhood. But the kid loves his job! Have things changed, or did I get it wrong? That’s what I ask myself sometimes. Did I misrepresent those years in Record Store Tales? Was I unfair?
The first two years were really awesome. I looked forward to going to work every day. I got there early and stayed late. There is no question that the fun atmosphere changed when we started to expand. 10 years later I was having panic attacks. Too many years of a retail job that was treated with as much urgency as a doctor’s or a lawyer’s. Family came second. Performance was everything. Weakness was inapplicable.
Too many cooks spoil the brew.
At the end I had three bosses, and it was kind of shady how some of that went down.
I never looked forward to work anymore. I still got there early, but that was more to take my own time opening. Get ahead on some things. Listen to music. Fill orders. I still do that today in my current job. I arrive early, and slowly and casually start getting stuff done before we’re officially open for business. Make a coffee. Read some news. Answer emails, before the phone starts ringing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but the boss told me, “If you worked at IBM, coming in early to do extra is considered bad work habits.” I distinctly remember him saying that. I simply could not win with them. It was a record store, not IBM! Who cares what IBM do? They don’t buy and sell used CDs from the public.
I’ve said before that there were cliques at the Record Store, and I stand by that claim. I never felt like I belonged. I was the only hard rocking sci-fi nerd with severe social anxiety. I wasn’t hanging out with the right people at the right bars, because that’s not my thing. Being invited out to the bar doesn’t count. I. Did. Not. Fit. In. I stand by that. And I maintain that people in power did let their personal lives leak into their work life.
No. Upon reflection I feel like I was fair in my previous assessments. I will say that I am guilty of one thing in my writing. Once I knew that people at the Record Store were reading, I let that influence my writing too much. Too often, I wrote with that knowledge in the back of my head, whether consciously or unconsciously. Perhaps that was unavoidable.
Too many cooks spoil the brew,
Wanna be the king of the world,
Yeah, and too many jailers makin’ the news,
Wanna be the king of the world.