RECORD STORE TALES Part 256: A Case of the Mondays
Towards the end of my record store years, 2005 to the start of 2006, the mere thought of waking up in the morning of a Monday was enough to make me feel physically ill. The feelings of dread usually began settling in on Sunday evening. By Monday morning I was not feeling well at all. I was used to being beaten down by unpleasant customers, unpredictable superiors, and long hours with not enough time off. I was sick and tired of being used, but I was also sick. I began to hate the mere sight of a CD, and certain songs played in store became so annoying that they haunted me at night. I stopped enjoying music.
I remember waking up one Monday morning and thinking to myself, “I wonder what would happen if I quit my job today.” I had a home and a mortgage, but finding a new job had proved difficult. My skill set was expansive, and my time at the record store had demonstrated my loyalty. Most jobs I was applying for were not interested in somebody with only retail experience. It didn’t matter that I was a manager, so I went from interview to interview without luck. The steady rejection impacted my emotional state in a negative way.
I called my dad, who I could always count on for good advice.
“Hey dad,” I began. “I have kind of a weird question for you. What would you say if I told you I wanted to go to work and quit my job today?”
“I would say that is not a very good idea,” he responded with seriousness. “You have a mortgage, and I’m sure you know it’s easier to find a new job when you’re already employed. Finding a good job while out of work is easier said than done. I would strongly advise that you don’t quit anything until you have something else to fall back on.”
Not the answer I wanted to hear, but I knew he was right. What I didn’t tell my dad (and what he didn’t know until he started reading these Record Store Tales) is just how miserable I was. I had become a complete basket case. He tells me now that he regrets the advice that he gave me that Monday morning. If he had known what I was going through he would have given me very different advice.
I thanked him for his words of wisdom and hung up the phone. I got dressed and ready for work. Breakfast was out of the question. My stomach was too wound up to handle eating. At the end of the record store days, I was generally only eating one or two meals a day. I didn’t really put together how that was affecting my mental and physical energy levels.
I used to listen to the same CD in the car on the way to work in the mornings: Dance of Death by Iron Maiden. I’d get in, put on the album, and then try to take as long as possible to get to work. Red lights meant more Maiden. Then as I’d pull into the store, I’d check out the parking lot and see if any of the bosses had arrived yet. You could never guess their temperament any day, so all I could do was pray they all had nice weekends. If they were in a good mood, they’d leave me more or less alone. If not, you could cut the tension with a knife.
I hated the tense Monday mornings.
Once I entered and hung up my coat, I’d do a walk around. I’d check to see how sales were on the weekend, what messes were left for me to clean up, and what problems had come up. I’d also rush to do a quick cleaning. Any glass surfaces with fingerprints had to be wiped clean before any bosses spotted them. They had a habit of bitching about anything they saw before I did. Other store managers didn’t have to deal with the stress of having “head office” in the back of their stores, but I did.
These taut Mondays were often long and enervating. I’d open the store at 10am and wait for the first customer. Usually they were people selling scratched up CDs for cigarette money. The day would drag on, and Mondays meant getting home later than usual, since Monday was also Stock Transfer Day! Even though I was “off” duty, none of us were ever really off duty. The phone, after all, could ring any time.
I suffered in silence. I didn’t want to stress out my parents, so that one phone call to my dad was all they knew. It was a dark time, but it is always darkest before the dawn. I survived. I am here with Record Store Tales to prove it.