what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

PREVIEW: The Next LeBrain

Dear readers,

As you are aware, the original Record Store Tales are almost done.   There are only a few sub-chapters left in Part 320: End of the Line.  I believe that, taken as a body of work and not cherry-picking bits and pieces, that it is a story of human frailty but also human strength and survival.  There are laughs, and there are tunes.  Lots and lots of good tunes.

Even though the entire story is almost told, I will continue telling tales of life’s absurdities.  These Post-Record Store Tales (if you will) are already being written and are ready to be rolled out!  The title, as suggested by you, will be revealed soon.

I just needed a new mascot.  I felt that the old GI Joe LeBrain had run his course.  Finding a new mascot, a new LeBrain, was a bit of a quest but I’ve finally settled on one.  May I present to you:



Yes, it’s Simon Pegg.

Part 320: End of the Line #3: The Last Day


Emotional material ahead. If you have been upset by past Record Store Tales, do not read on. 
I’m not fucking kidding.



RECORD STORE TALES Part 320: End of the Line #3 The Last Day

The last two weeks at work after giving my notice were difficult, but now I had light at the end of the tunnel. My boss took me aside and asked me not to buy a hundred CDs with the last of my discount.

One thought that had occurred to me after giving notice was this.  If I had gone to my doctor on December 19 for some Prozac or something, instead of writing my letter of resignation, he immediately would have written me a note for at least two weeks sick leave, right in the middle of the Christmas rush, absolutely screwing them over.  Without question.  That’s how much I had cracked.  I chose not to do that.  Instead I chose to leave on an upstanding note, head held high.  I stated in my letter that I understood that this was the busy season, and I had no desire to cause scheduling problems for them.  I offered to stay until the end of the month of January 2006.  This would allow them plenty of time to find a new manager.

One thing that disappointed me was way that the store handled my departure.  They waited until my last day to announce that I was leaving.  This hurt my feelings. In my experience, when somebody like me leaves, an email will go out a week or two ahead of time. “So-and-so has decided to move on to new opportunities. His-or-her last day will be Friday the 13th,” or whatever. I didn’t get that. I speculate there was a certain amount of shell-shock. When your longest serving employee moves on to greener pastures, it’s hard to spin that positive, I guess? I really don’t know the reason behind it, all I know is that it stung.

Christmas had come and gone. I have almost no memories of that Christmas at all. All I really remember was that I went to Brampton on Christmas Day to meet Jen’s extended family. I met her Uncle Peter, Nana and Granddad for the first time. And I couldn’t stay long, since I had to open the store for our big annual Boxing Day sale the next day.  I have no memories of Boxing Day, New Year’s, or any of the other days from that period. I really only remember my last day.

Thankfully my journal has some details of my last two weeks, but they are few and far between:

Date: 2005/12/27 10:09 am

I have been at this store every second that it has been open since 1:30 pm on December 23.  That is an utterly depressing thought. How many more days of this?  I do not yet know.

Date: 2005/12/28 8:13 pm (I had been told what my final scheduled work day would be)

January 4, 2006, I will be a free man again.  The emotions I am feeling run the entire spectrum.  But on January 5, there’s a good chance I may just sleep the entire day, just because I can.  For the first time in 12 years I will have no reason to think about that store.  That is a very liberating thought.

Date: 2006/01/04 08:00 am

My last day.

I was hoping to just go home quietly today, but I hear there’s something planned.  I know my boss is buying me lunch, I don’t know what else is going on.  I hate being the center of attention at work.  At a party, sure, I’ll gladly take center stage and ham it up.  At work I’d rather just fade into the background.

Meh, I shouldn’t be complaining.  It IS my last day.  Hard to believe.  Well, I’d better be getting ready.

Date: 2006/01/04 10:49 am

The goodbye phonecalls and emails have started pouring in, they made the official announcement of my last day this morning.  It’s overwhelming.  So many people I may never see again!  The emotions I am feeling, they are overwhelming.  No matter how bad it got here, I had so many friends.  I lost sight of that fact.  I sure will miss so many people.

They bought me one of those giant “farewell” cards and had loads of people sign it.  I still have that.  It was a kind gesture.

I still miss a lot of people, but life does go on.  I had never done anything like this before; leaving a place I had worked for so long.  It was like losing a part of myself.  But, that part had become dark and cancerous.  So, my health gradually returned.  I slowly became myself again, a long journey in itself.

To be continued…


Jen and two great co-workers arranged a surprise party for me a couple weeks after.   I have some pics from it.  I also have no idea who that guy is in the picture with me.

Part 320: End of the Line #2: The Last Straw


Emotional material ahead. If you have been upset by past Record Store Tales, do not read on. 


RECORD STORE TALES Part 320: End of the Line #2 The Last Straw

Date: 2005/12/20 08:32 am

Well, I guess it’s time for some major news.  I quit my job yesterday.  I feel that I have been pushed one step beyond what I am willing to accept.  I wrote my letter of resignation yesterday.  My last day has yet to be decided but come January I will be free as a bird to de-stress and spend every day finding that new job that I know is coming.


I have never disclosed my exact reason for leaving the store.  I spent almost 12 years there, but the last several of them were not pleasant.  There were personality clashes and other issues that I will not get into to protect the guilty.  Suffice to say that if I wanted to, I could have written another 320 Record Store Tales about all the shenanigans behind the scenes.

One of the biggest signs of a problem was the fact that I was losing my love of music.  That is not something I thought would happen, but it set in slowly like a cancer.

I had been looking for other work for a little while but only half-heartedly.  I had discovered that, even though I had 12 years’ experience with 10 of them as a manager, retail experience was not valued in many of the jobs I was looking at.

Events became unbearable on December  18, 2005.  It was exactly a week before Christmas and our stores were busy.  I managed to get myself a couple days off for that entire month, the 18th being the last of them (besides the 25th itself).  I spent the morning with Jen and my parents, having breakfast at a local place that they enjoy.  We had a great breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and beans.  It was a chance for my parents to get to know Jen a little better, who they only met two months previous.

As soon as I got home from breakfast, I found two messages on my answering machine from the store.  Somehow, I had a gut feeling that would be the case.  They had only been open for two hours.  Apparently there was some sort of power surge and our computer was on the fritz.  They couldn’t ring in sales, so all transactions were being done on paper.  In addition, somehow, the computer’s monitor was now displaying sideways!  They had turned the screen on its side just to read it.  The messages on the phone asked if I could run down to Office Depot and buy some receipt books for them to record manual sales on, and check in on the store.  They had already called in some extra help for the shift.  When I got the messages, I called and said I was on my way.

The store was busy when I got there but not overwhelmingly so.  I stayed an hour to help, and then went home.  All was well and there was nothing else I could do that day.  The computers were even working again.  Jen was with me the whole day and will stand by all of this.

The following morning, Monday the 19th, did not go at all like I had expected.

I went into work an hour before we opened, as I always did.  The monitor had righted itself, and all was more or less back to normal.  All was well with the world again.

Except for one person.

This one person was not happy.  At all.  Apparently, when the store’s staff couldn’t get hold of me (remember I was at a breakfast with my parents) they called someone higher up.  And that person proceeded to tear me a new asshole for it.  This person was not interested, at all, in the fact that I did come into the store on my day off and help.  I did everything requested of me.  This was not good enough.

“You have to leave your cell phone on, all the time, from now on,” the person demanded.

My personal cell phone.  I had owned my cell for about 6 years.  I selected it and paid for everything myself, for my own personal use.  Work never had anything to do with my personal cell phone.  It was mine, and I rarely used it.

So, I did what I had always rehearsed in my mind, should a demand I deemed unreasonable ever come up.  I nodded, paused, and the words came out of me automatically:

“Then I’m going to have to give you my notice.”

There was a very brief silence.

“Then you’ll have to write a letter of resignation.” Into the office.  Door closed.

That was it.  I had done it.  Finally, I had done it.

In my letter of resignation, I stated simply that I no longer wanted to deal with the stress of a job that had almost become 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  I signed the letter, perhaps the most important letter I ever wrote in my life.

It was the scariest thing I had done yet.

To be continued…