retail

#797: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For It!

GETTING MORE TALE #797: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For It!

In the early 90s, we got our first Costco store in Kitchener.  My parents raved about how much I’d love it.  In those early years, I enjoyed going with them.  I’d throw a 20 pack of Hot Rods into the cart and see if they’d notice (they always did).  They didn’t have much of a music selection, but what they did have was priced to go.  So I picked up a few current releases:

The Guns was a nice score.  The full Tokyo show, split onto two VHS tapes (sold separately).  At Costco prices they were affordable.  The show later made up a large portion of their album Live Era.  Costco was great for buying new releases, junk food in bulk, and the occasional electronics.  We enjoyed getting free food samples and checking out the latest in TVs and videos games.  I stocked up on blank tapes.  But there was one thing Costco didn’t have.

To be clear, it wasn’t that I was looking to buy this.  I was just being a shit.  I have a juvenile sense of humour, and always have.  Costco should have known that if they were going to leave pads of paper for “suggestions” at the end of every aisle, someone was going to write silly things on it.

Most people wrote sensible suggestions.  “Too much packaging on products” was a good one.  It’s true, Costco would use far too much cardboard and plastic to package together three things of deodorant.  But I noticed they didn’t carry something; something important that could easily be sold in bulk.  My mom gave me shit for it, but I always wrote “CONDOMS” on the suggestion pads.

I didn’t need condoms, believe me.  Definitely not in bulk.  But something about the idea tickled my funnybone, and so every time, I wrote it down.

“MICHAEL!” my mother would scold.  I’d grin and laugh.  It went on and on like this, visit after visit.

But you know something?  It was a good idea.  So good that a few years later, they were stocked.  I couldn’t believe it.

“Kathryn!” I shouted at my sister.  “Get over here, you won’t believe this.”  I proudly pointed at the condoms.  “Do you think that’s because of me?”  I mean, I wrote it down enough times.

I think I had something to do with it.  At least, that’s the way I tell the story, and I’ll be damned if I’m changing it now.  Costco carries condoms because of me.

There was one guy I knew back in the day who would have appreciated it.  He was a friend of a friend.  We were at an age when you’d be expected to be “embarrassed” to be buying condoms.  Not this guy.  He went up to the counter at the drug store and said, “See that?  That’s a five pack.  That means I’m getting it five times.”  Then when the transaction was done, he’d conclude by saying “See you tomorrow!”  No embarrassment for that guy.  I like to think that I got Costco to carry condoms in bulk, and I did it for that guy.  You’re welcome!

 

 

 

#795: A Case for Security

A sequel to #424: How to Stop a Thief

 

GETTING MORE TALE #795: A Case for Security

Back when people used to actually steal physical CDs instead of just stealing a download, extravagant measures were taken to secure our precious inventory.

We had a magnetic tag security system.  At the entrance stood an electronic gate that would go into alarm mode any time one of those magnetic tags was near.  Every item we had in-store was tagged.  The system was not cheap.  I believe the tags cost 5 cents each (in 1994 dollars).  They were the cheapest ones available and they quickly added up.  The tags were not re-usable.  Once they were de-magnetized they were done.  Also, because they were sticky tags, if you ripped one off you wouldn’t be able to re-apply it very well as the sticky side got less sticky.  You could put it back on with tape, but no matter what you did, over time the tags would always start to peel off on their own.  We did a “tape check” every week to make sure every cassette still had a security tag firmly attached.

There was a different method for securing CDs.  To cut down on the use of the magnetic tags, we used plastic CD long boxes.  The magnetic tags were fitted inside, didn’t peel off, and could be re-used time and time again.  You couldn’t get the CD out of the long boxes without a key, or you’d destroy what was inside.  The key was kept behind the counter.

Like anything at the Record Store, this security measure had its pros and cons.  Storing those long boxes when not in use was a constant struggle.  We always seemed to be bursting at the seams with them.  We had cabinets underneath the CD shelving that were usually packed full.

The biggest “pro” was reducing the cost of the magnetic tags.  Since you could use the same case over and over again with the magnetic strip intact, you didn’t have to keep buying new ones.  The long boxes were also an added deterrent.  If you wanted to steal a CD you had to hide the long box under your jacket.

This didn’t stop people from trying.  One day, somebody from the mall came into the Record Store and told me that they found half a dozen broken long boxes in the trash outside.

“I think someone has been stealing from you,” she said.

I was immediately worried that someone managed to rip us off on my shift.  Fortunately that wasn’t the case, though Zellers were not as lucky.  Upon seeing the broken long boxes, I could tell they didn’t belong to us.  They came from Zellers, who used a similar system.  Someone managed to beat it.  How?

If nobody was looking, you could lift the CDs right over the magnetic gate.  That was the easiest way, and at Zellers, chances are nobody was looking.  Another method (supposedly anyway) involved lining the inside of your jacket with aluminum foil.  Apparently this would allow you to shoplift anything with a magnetic tag.  The urban legend, which may have been true, is that a local gang of CD thieves used this method.

The gang were known locally as “Pizza Guys”.  The cops were always two steps behind them.  The main detective on the case gave us pretty clear instructions.  We were to buy everything the “Pizza Guys” brought in, record it, and get their ID.  We were to flag any “shady” purchases but otherwise they told us it was business as usual.  I don’t know if the detective ever caught the “Pizza Guys”, but years later their leader Aristotles (real name!) went to jail for selling ecstasy, meth and heroin.  Quite a large step from stealing CDs!  According to the news, he got just six years in jail.

I don’t think the “Pizza Guys” were shoplifting CDs normally.  I think they were getting them from someone on the inside.  We’ll never really know.  We used to joke that one day we’d be in an HMV store minding our own business, when Aristotles would pop his head out of the stock room.  “We’re out of Big Shiny Tunes again!”

Even though the “Pizza Guys” usually brought in what you would call good titles (usually new releases), we all hated dealing with them.  As time went on without getting caught, they got more and more cocky and difficult to deal with.  It was good to know the cops were on our side, but I’m not a detective.  My job was not to fight crime in the city of Kitchener.  My job was to sell music, and these guys didn’t make it a pleasant experience for us.

 

#774: The Original Mustard Tiger

GETTING MORE TALE #774: The Original Mustard Tiger

 

Gary was a customer of mine after I was transferred to a store on the shittier side of town.  It’s not like where I worked before was high class.  The new store was in a part of town that, frankly, I never went to when I wasn’t working.  There was nothing in that part of town, just the same fast food joints as everywhere else.  Not a lot of people with disposable income.  The store recently came to an end, to no-one’s surprise.  But that was the store that Gary frequented.

I inherited Gary from the previous manager.  Since we started carrying DVDs, we acquired a brand new niche clientele:  movie and TV fans.  They rarely, if ever, bought music.  It was a whole new market, and Gary was one of the guys who bought DVDs pretty much exclusively.  In particular, he liked TV show season box sets.  M*A*S*H*, Gilligan’s Island, the classics.  He bought a lot — and returned a lot.  He was high maintenance, so not the kind of guy I was really excited to see walk in at any given time.  But that’s retail.

What was most memorable to me about Gary was his appearance.  Large, bald, and…shall we say, unkempt.  The shirt that disgusted me the most was the one that had mustard stains all over the front.  Dried mustard on cloth isn’t my thing when it comes to fashion, I guess.  And when he talked to me, trapped behind the counter, I could barely take my eyes off it.  It was like a car accident — some people can’t help but look.  That was me with Gary’s shirt, which didn’t seem to completely cover his skin, by the way.  The easiest and most accurate comparison would be the character of Phil Collins on Trailer Park Boys.  Gary was taller, but Phil was bald, had a protruding gut, and wore a shirt covered with mustard stains.  Phil’s shirt had a picture of a tiger on it, hence his nickname:  the Mustard Tiger.  Well Gary was the original Mustard Tiger.

I quit the store a couple years later, but life is circular, and that was not the last of the Mustard Tiger.  About a decade ago, Jen and I were obligated to go to a wedding.  It was one of her bridesmaids tying the knot, the one we referred to as “bridesmaidzilla”.  (You can read that story in #559:  Hotel Hobbies.)  I wasn’t thrilled to be going, and for Jen this was kind of a final obligation before she was able to put some distance between them.  They were having a “Hillbilly Wedding”, I believe they billed it.  And guess who the best man was?

It was Gary.  He traded in the mustard shirt for something clean, with buttons.  Adorned atop his bald pate was a 10 gallon cowboy hat.  Upon his ample belly, a giant golden country & western belt buckle.  It looked like the WCW Championship belt, so huge it seemed.

I’m sure that some of you, if you were in similar circumstances, would walk up to Gary and ask him how he’s been doing.  If he even remembered you.  I did not do that.  When I quit the store, I was bitter and wanted to move on with my life.  I didn’t want to talk to Gary and remember all the times he returned some shitty TV show box set.  We all make choices, and I chose to pretend that I didn’t remember the Mustard Tiger.

As if!!

 

#759: Talk, Talk

GETTING MORE TALE #759: Talk, Talk

I was browsing local news stories, and one came up that had me choking on my coffee a little bit.

It was an interview with the owner of the old Record Store, who had opened up a new location.  In the interests of keeping everyone anonymous, I’ll paraphrase instead of quoting the portion that had me shocked and annoyed.

“We want to appeal to the hardcore music fan, the kind that just want to come in and talk about and listen to music.  Hopefully one day we can have chairs and make it a hangout atmosphere.”

Sounds good.  Sounds a bit like Sonic Boom in Toronto.  Nothing wrong with that.  Except it contradicts the very first lesson he taught me at the Record Store! In Getting More Tale #575, I described a scenario where he set me up, in order to teach me something valuable about customer service.

He knowingly asked me to go help an annoying, very talky lady.  After a chat that lasted longer than I care to remember, he said to me “That’s your first lesson.  Don’t get into conversations with customers.”

I realise that times change, and with them so do business strategies.  I’m sure somebody will say, “Well that was different.”  I can’t help but think of all the times I got scolded or received dirty looks for talking “too much” about music with customers.  The impression I got was they would have preferred an impersonal assembly line.  Serve the customer, plug the CD wipes for $5.99, get the sale, and move on to the next one.  Don’t encourage extended conversation.  The handful of customers I created relationships with ended up being long-termers, however.  My dad tells me I have the gift of gab like my grandfather.  My regulars enjoyed our chats, though the bosses didn’t.

Now he’s talking about making conversation a main feature of the store.  Does that mean he was wrong and I was right all along?

#751: Can I Get a Witness?

GETTING MORE TALE #751: Can I Get a Witness?

I owe the Jehovah’s Witnesses a debt of gratitude.  I developed my cat-like stealthy ninja skills thanks to them.  I was able to take this talent into the Record Store a decade later.  How?  Read on.

If you’re not familiar, Jehovah’s Witnesses travel the streets of everyday neighborhoods, going door to door to preach the word.  They have a little magazine called the Watchtower that they distribute.  Every kid in my day was taught “don’t answer the door if a Jehovah’s Witness comes knocking.”  You could see them walking down the street, in formal wear, usually in pairs.  I would hide behind furniture and watch them through the window.  You could see them ring a doorbell, get no answer, and move onto the next house.  That’s how you’d know.  Sometimes we’d even phone neighbor friends.  “Jehovahs are coming down the street! Don’t answer the door!”

It’s not that Jehovah’s Witnesses are bad people.  Prince was a Jehovah’s Witness.  It’s just that nobody really likes an uninvited religious sermon in their homes.  As kids it wasn’t a good idea to open the door to strangers anyway.  And I had some good hiding places to watch for them.  Our big front bay window didn’t offer much cover, but I could spy from other strategic places.  I’d sneak downstairs silently, and get a closer look at their faces through the blinds.  Once, I think I was spotted.  If they rang the doorbell more than once, I assumed I’d been noticed and took deeper cover.

This worked like a charm, until one day I let my guard down.  It was my OAC “Grade 13” year.  I was working on a major project and I needed an audio recording.  I called up my buddy Bob to come over for an hour and help.  He said, “Sure no problem.  I’ll be there in an hour or two.”

An hour later the doorbell rang, and I ran down the stairs excitedly.  I was able to leap an entire staircase in one jump.  I loudly hit the main floor and ran to the door.  Opening it, I saw a kindly little old man in a blue suit and hat.  It was not Bob and I instantly regretted my haste.  It was my first Jehovah’s Witness.

I smiled and let the man speak, but after a few minutes I had to stop him.  “I’m sorry but I’m in the middle of a school project.  I really have to go.”

The man was fine with this.  “Education is very important,” he said, “I’ll come back another time.”

“Sure, sure,” I said, “Have a nice day.”

I got back to my project, but the next week, the old guy came back.  This time my dad answered the door.

“Is the young man available?” asked the Jehovah’s Witness.  I don’t know exactly what my dad said to him, but he never came back again.  I actually felt bad.  He was a nice man, and I’m sure my dad let him have it with a few F-bombs!

Clearly, my method of ninja-like avoidance and surveillance was superior.  I never rushed to answer the door in haste again.

Now, how does this all relate to the Record Store?  Well, I’ll tell ya.

Yours Truly

As discussed in Record Store Tales Part 190: The Early Bird Drops the Discs, I hated when people would bang on the door before we were open.  It wasn’t like our hours were a mystery.  There’s one store in town, Orange Monkey Music, that doesn’t really have posted hours.  It was a day to day mystery.  Whenever they showed up, they’d open.  Some days they wouldn’t open at all.  Not us!  It was the same schedule every week, posted on our front door for easy reference.  It was also on our website.

I’m not sure why some people felt entitled to get in the store before we were open.  I’ve never presumed that a store should let me in just because I was there 10 minutes early.  If I’m there 10 minutes early, that’s my 10 minutes to kill.  It’s not some store employee’s responsibility to let me in because I showed up before the posted hours.

Every Record Store employee had to show up 15 minutes before opening.  This allowed us to vacuum and set up for the day.  If I showed up earlier than 15 minutes, it was because I was the manager and had other things I wanted to get done before opening.  I didn’t get paid for being there early so there was no way I was opening early.

Sometimes I’d be in the back room looking at inventory, when I’d hear banging on the door.  Maybe it would be a boss who forgot their keys, or maybe it would be a customer.  Using my Jehovah-honed ninja skills, I’d skulk behind counters and displays so I could get a clear look.  If it was indeed a customer, they’d usually be carrying a bag of crappy CDs to sell.  Early morning booze money!  I’d stay hidden until they fucked off, then I’d get back to work.  Ninja skills:  maxed out!

The owner of course would let people in early, even though it was me who had to serve them and not him.  I remember one time, local weather man Dave MacDonald showed up early.  The boss let him in well before opening; they seemed to know each other.  But because he was in, that meant everybody else was welcome too.  And I wasn’t even supposed to be on duty yet.  Fuck me, right?  I hated when he let people in early.  Another effect of this was, if you do someone a favour once, they expect it next time.  “The owner lets me in early…”

I’d like to thank every Jehovah’s Witness who ever took a stroll down my street.  You taught me skills you didn’t even know!

 

#732: Where the Hell Am I?

GETTING MORE TALE #732: Where the Hell Am I?

What is the most important information to possess when you’re shopping?  Is it your shopping list?  Is it money?

No friends, that is not what matters most.  What you need to know most of all is where the hell you actually are.

I was working at the Record Store in the late 90s.  We had big red gift certificates in different denominations.  They had our logo printed on them.  You could use them at any of our locations.  They were pretty standard gift certificates, like any other store might have.  Today virtually everybody has switched to magnetic gift cards instead, which undoubtedly saves on paper.

A family came in one afternoon looking to spend.  They had over a hundred dollars in gift certificates.  Enough for the whole family to enjoy.  Collectively they had numerous questions, but were courteous and friendly.  I spent roughly an hour with them, helping them find songs and retrieving CDs for them to listen to.  They narrowed down their pile of CDs to the discs they wanted most.  Then we got to the checkout counter.

I made sure each case had the right CD inside, and I made sure each one was clean.  I rang them up and told them the total, when the man handed me a little blue HMV gift certificate.

My heart sank.

“This isn’t us, this is for HMV,” I informed the man.

“This isn’t HMV?”  He was stunned!

No!  This isn’t HMV!  Didn’t you notice all our massive signage?  Also, all our CDs are used!  When was the last time you saw a used CD at an HMV store?  My mind was screaming all of these things silently as the man.

What bugged me the most wasn’t all the wasted time on these people, it was that he was actually angry!  Angry at who?  If it were me, I’d be super embarrassed but I sure as hell wouldn’t be angry.  I would also be sure to buy something — anything — to make up for all the time the store spent on me.  This guy escorted his family out, leaving all the discs with me at the counter.

I’m sure the boss man was thrilled when I told him this story, and how effective all our store signage was!


Now a story of my own, but without the temper tantrum.

As many of you know, my friend Jason and I collect Transformers.  There are not really any decent toy stores in Kitchener.  We have a Toys R Us and an EB Games.  Up in Waterloo, there’s a good store called J&J’s, but they don’t carry Transformers.  (I did, however, buy up their GI Joes.)  Cambridge is the place to be for toy shopping.

I took a day off work to go toy shopping with Jay.  First we hit a place called The Toy Society, which is an excellent store for vintage action figures.  A little bit of every genre.  It’s hard to leave without spending money.  But Jay and I had a specific goal that day, which was to check out our friend Dan’s new store.

Dan owns B&K Collectables, which if you collect Pops, is now the place to go to get ’em.  He also carries vintage G1 and new Masterpiece Transformers.  His prices are high but when I buy a vintage figure from him, I know it’s complete and in working condition.  He’s never let me down, and I have scored several rare boxed G1 figures from him over the years.  He used to sell by mail, but in 2016 he opened an actual storefront, in a shared space with a computer store.

Jay and I hadn’t been there yet, and so partially planned this day to check out Dan’s store.  We knew roughly where it was, on Queen Street down by Len’s Mill Store.  We parked and started looking.

“This must be it,” said Jay as we entered a toy store.

We looked and took it all in.  There was a guy working near the back.

“BIG DAN!” shouted Jay.

The guy turned around.  He was big but he was not Dan.

“Did Dan hire someone?” I whispered to Jay.

“Sorry, is Dan around?” said Jay to the started toy store guy.

“No,” he answered simply, but probably confused.

“OK, thanks,” we said as we looked around for a bit.  The store was cool but he didn’t have any Transformers.  We had to be in the wrong place.  Turns out, it was a store called Playin’ Around.  B&K Collectables was still a few more doors down!

Once we found Dan, we had a laugh at our embarrassment.  As usual, his assortment of vintage figures was impressive.  I had my eyes on a complete G2 Megatron, but Jay was more excited about G1 Blitzwing.

“Holy shit you have Blitzwing!” said an excited Jay.  A customer over in the computer half of the store was amused by his excitement.  “I can’t believe you have a G1 Blitzwing, is he complete?”

The computer customer walked over.  “OK, I have to see what a G1 Blitzwing is, if it’s this exciting.”

Jay explained to him, “He’s a triple changer!  He changes into a plane AND a tank.”

“Ahh,” said the guy.

You have to have fun with shit.  Here I am with Jay, two guys in their 40s buying toys in the hundreds of dollars.  The computer guy thinks we’re nuts.  We also walked into a store and accidentally scared a guy by yelling “BIG DAN!”  It’s funny.  The guy with the HMV gift certificate could have made that experience so much better for everybody if he just saw the humour in it (and bought something for all my efforts).

Don’t be angry.  If you’re a dumb shit, just own it and laugh it off.  Ponoby’s nerfect, nam.

 

 

 

#731: Do as I say, not as I do

There are a few stories I held back from the original Record Store Tales because I didn’t want to get anyone into any trouble.  In this case, 24 years have gone by so I think it’s too late for this story to do any damage.  I was 21 years old, and as green as spinach.

When I first started, one of the earliest lessons I was taught was “Do as I say, not as I do.”  That came in handy the one time I witnessed a customer get physically hit by staff!

He was a kid.  He didn’t get hit hard.  It was a light smack on the brim of the hat.  And it was still shocking.

This kid came in wanting to return a CD.  I was still in training.  The guy behind the counter wasn’t too happy about the condition it was in.  He concluded the kid was trying to rip us off.  There was a bit of an argument about it.  The kid threatened to go downtown to “Mister Disc” from then on, and that’s when he got smacked in the head and called “Junior”!

“Do as I say, not as I do,” indeed!  So I never hit any customers!  The kid never came back, but could you imagine if that happened in 2018?  You’d have vigils and boycotts and Twitter going into overdrive.  In 1994, you just had an embarrassed kid leaving with his tail between his legs.

 

#716: Hummer

GETTING MORE TALE #716: Hummer

Towards the end of my time at the Record Store, I saw a lot of what I call “bigwigs” floating in and out.  These well-dressed business men would be visiting with the boss to discuss wheeling and dealing.  They all had one thing in common:  they ignored the working stiff behind the counter as if he didn’t exist.

One of these guys was in one afternoon, and as he was leaving, he said “Let me go get one of my business cards from my Hummer.”

Really?

You couldn’t have just said “Let me go get one of my business cards?”  You had to add the part about your $100,000 pollution machine too?  Usually, I just say “I’ll go get it from my car.  I don’t say “It’s in my Pontiac G5, let me go get it.”  Because I don’t care and you shouldn’t either.  But some guys think they are what they drive, I guess:  big suck machines?

These kinds of people really chapped my ass, but I guess it’s very hip-hop to boast about wealth.  Not very rock and roll, but just another day at the Record Store.

#708: The Perfect Roll

Expanded from a segment in Part 18:  Klassic Kwotes III

GETTING MORE TALE #708: The Perfect Roll

I once read a quote from Keith Richards in the late 80s about the state of rock and roll.  “I hear a lot of rock,” he said, “but not much roll anymore.”

I thought I knew what he meant.  You heard a lot of rocking, but not a lot of that Stones-y jangle.  None of the rhythm & blues.  None of the subtlety.  That’s what I read his quote to mean.

Then I heard something else a decade later that made me wonder if “roll” meant something else.

 

WHAT IS “ROLL”?

A knowledgeable rock guy named Neil was working that day.  The Verve were still popular, and for good reason.  1997’s Urban Hymns was a phenomenon brought on by “Bitter Sweet Symphony”, which has since become a classic.  The song even has a Stones connection.  The famed string section is a sampled from Andrew Loog Oldham’s cover of the Stones’ “The Last Time”.  The lawyers had a field day with that one.

On this afternoon, a guy came in and started asking lots of questions (including “Do you believe in Jesus?” but I digress). One thing we always hated was when customers would ask to listen to music on the store system even though we had six listening stations. (Granted, only four worked at any given time, but again, I digress.) This guy asked to listen to The Verve.

Because we tried to be nice and not dicks, we put The Verve on the store system and skipped through the tracks for the guy.  He told us, “There’s rock and roll, and then there’s rock, and then there’s roll. This CD supposedly has the first ‘roll’ performed since the 1960s!” That’s what he was listening for.

We went back and forth through a few tracks. Then he burst out, “Did you hear that? Did you hear that! That was a perfect roll! The first roll performed since the 60s!”

To this day I have no idea what he was talking about.

Rock and roll is an amalgam of different influences, including gospel and R&B.  None of those influences have gone extinct since the birth of rock.  Whatever it was that this guy heard, something that hadn’t been performed since the 60s, I still cannot figure out.

Oh! And the “roll” guy? He didn’t buy anything!

#706: Additional Complaint

GETTING MORE TALE #706: Additional Complaint

I used to tell the store owner and his second-in-command, “We are only using about 10% of what these computers are capable of doing.”  They were great for inventory and point of sale.  We eventually started using them to print out header cards for CDs.  It seemed like the owner and those beneath him weren’t interested in getting the most out of our computers.  I think they saw potential abuse as “toys” — gaming and chatting etc.

That wasn’t what I was driving at.  I used to have to maintain a sales log.  It was a big blue book full of pages for bookkeeping.  It was handy because the boss could open it up and have a quick look at what sales were last night, last week, last year, and so on.  We kept track of our purchases and free CD giveaways in the log book.  At various points in time, I was maintaining multiple log books.  I had one when I was in charge of the store website.  Whenever there was a staffing issue, and I had to cover at another branch for an extended period, there was another log book.

It always irked me that we were not permitted to use Microsoft Excel instead of (or even in addition to) the sales log.  There is one thing I have always sucked at, and continue to suck at:  adding up a large column of numbers.  The reasons for this are two:

  1. My big stupid fingers are always mashing the wrong buttons on a calculator, and
  2. When I stare at numbers too long they all start to jump around.  2112 looks like 2121, and so on.

My suggestions to use Excel for the log book were always shot down.  For all I know, 12 years later they could still be using the big blue log books exclusively.  We did use Excel to calculate the values of our inventory, so I didn’t get what the big deal was.

It really pissed me off one afternoon in the store, when I was struggling to add up the numbers for month end.  The weekly totals were off, so I had to find where.  I had a system for finding these kinds of problems and part of it was manually adding up all the days’ sales.  Every time you start adding a large series of numbers and the phone rings or someone asks a question, I tended to lose my place.  So it took a while.  And every time I added the numbers, I was getting different results.  I’d been at it forever and couldn’t figure it out.

They’d just given me another staffer who would be helping in the afternoons when I used to be alone.  I asked him if he wouldn’t mind checking the sum, to see what total he would get.  He did and that’s exactly when the Store Bully walked in.

“Mike, why are you getting Dave to do the books for you?!” she yelled.  Of course, out of context, it probably looked that way.  But she wouldn’t even let me finish a sentence, and when I finally did, she said my story was “bull”.  She made her comment that the new guy wasn’t to be my personal servant.  Is that what she thought of me?  And of course this went on my annual review.  I protested it again, but she didn’t want to listen.

Dave didn’t get to finish adding that column, so I never found out what total he would have got.  Imagine how easy it would have been if it was just Microsoft Excel.

Some of the people at the Record Store who were in positions of power were, unfortunately, troglodytes.  They didn’t use computers regularly and were closed to ideas that didn’t come from preferential personnel.  It was a rock and a hard place for me.  They didn’t want to use computers to do the books, but I got “caught” getting someone to check my math.  As if it’s highschool.

Actually, it was a lot like a highschool.  And I wasn’t in the popular clique.