RECORD STORE TALES #949: My Music at Work (2006-2007)
None of my jobs since quitting the Record Store have been musical in nature. Dealing in steel pipe and accounts payable were boring by comparison, but everywhere I go, I bring music with me.
For a brief while I was working at Novocol Pharmaceuticals. They make the stuff that freezes your teeth so the dentist can do his work. It was pretty wild; I had a lab coat and a cubicle. One day I heard music drifting in. I got out of my chair and wandered around. I realized that the music was coming from the phone.
Many offices have phones that can play a radio station piped in. A little mono speaker, but better than nothing. It was the first music I had in the workplace since quitting the store. CHYM FM became my nemesis as time went on, but for the moment, I was glad to have music again. James Blunt, Rod Stewart, and a lot of “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter. Remember Daniel Powter?
I was at Novocol for a few weeks, and then I had an opportunity at United Rentals where I spent over a year of some of the best work days I ever had. United was a very special place and I’m glad I got to experience it. I made many friends there, and once again, they had the phone radios set to CHYM.
At United, we had a big back room with 8-10 computers for us to enter invoices. When we started the room was full. And I made myself known as the music guy when Rod Stewart came on the radio, as I spoke up to sing his praises. It was the first good song all day. Probably “Downtown Train”. That station only played one or two songs per artist, unless that artist was Beyonce.
“Right on, Rod Stewart!” I announced to the room. “Great song!”
The immediate response from one of the younger girls in the room was “Who’s Rod Stewart?”
I feigned shock. “Who’s Rod Stewart!? The guy with the spikey hair! You know ‘Reason to Believe’, ‘Have I Told You Lately’, ‘Rhythm of my Heart’, ‘Tonight’s the Night’…no?”
No. They did not.
I put up with CHYM for a long time, but one day somebody changed the radio station to Dave FM, the local rock station. All of a sudden, Bon Jovi and Quiet Riot at work were a mainstay. Even Judas Priest. “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”. Hearing that at work, a band that I was not allowed to play back in the Record Store days, it was awesome. Just awesome. Here I was in an Accounts Payable office, listening to music I liked better than what I was allowed to play at the store.
The boss poked his nose in the door. “Hey, is that Quiet Riot? I used to love Quiet Riot!” I was the only one in the room who knew what he was talking about. He was a good boss; he helped me get my current job.
“Lick It Up” would thump from that little mono speaker. It was still better than whatever I was allowed to listen to when I worked in an actual music store. The only times I played Kiss there were the occasions no bosses were around, and I was confident I wouldn’t get caught. If I was working at an out-of-town store like Oakville, I would play forbidden bands like Kiss and Iron Maiden. I knew nobody would be popping in for a surprise visit.
Not everybody was happy with the music at United. One lady, a couple years older than me, liked CHYM.
United closed their Kitchener office in 2007 and moved operations to the US. Employees were being shed slowly, and in the latter days there were only three of us left in the back room. There was an older lady, a younger one, and me. Two of us loved the music that Dave FM played, one of us claimed it caused headaches. No matter how low the volume was.
“How can you listen to this? It’s just noise,” she would complain.
She wasn’t even that much older than me. Four years tops. But after having Rhianna and Kelly Clarkson forced upon us for a year, my sympathy was not high. I offered to bring in some CDs from home that I thought everyone would like. I chose The Cars. Turns out I was the only Cars fan. We stuck to the radio and Dave FM.
Because the office was closing, we were all looking for new jobs. We were trying to be supportive of each other, but I noticed that the one older lady that didn’t like rock music was starting to become a little difficult to bear. She’d always been like a motherly figure, helping others. This seemed to change as we got closer and closer to the end. She was getting this attitude of superiority and it wasn’t helping my self esteem. I had 10 years of retail management, which she told me wasn’t enough for the kind of jobs I was looking for. I’d have to set my sights lower and work my way up, according to her. A little encouragement would have been better medicine, but talking to her made me feel like I was going to be stuck forever. In a few weeks she’d be gone, thankfully, to a new job as a receptionist. Good riddance. The vacuum enabled me to step up into a leadership role at the end of United. And then the call came through – I was needed. Urgently. And now I’m here!
To my chagrin, my new work had CHYM FM on the speaker phones too. But as in the past, CHYM didn’t last and before too long, Dave was back. History repeats!