Foreword: Starting today I’m picking up an old series of essays I started back in 2012. I never intended to abandon the series but as I worked through four installments I became more depressed. I saw the story of a man who’d accomplished nothing and it left e wondering what the point if any of this was. So I set it aside and concentrated on more tangible subjects. Now three years later and a bit more secure in my career I’ve acknowledged the sirens call to pick the reins of the narrative up once more and finish it. Some of these parts have been published before but I’m editing them and punching them up a bit, but most are brand new. Also note, NONE of this will focus on my writing, this is about the menial jobs I was forced to do as I clawed my way, or stumbled my way, towards my career.
I got my first job in the summer before I turned fifteen. I’d been living with my father and the stepmother for a year at the time and had just finished my freshman year of high school in Wayne Michigan. Some of you might know I consider Wayne my home town but I only lived there for two years. I am not going to go over my life in Wayne, or Belleville either, in this entry because they are both worthy of their own long, rambling, filth filled, and family offending offerings to you my loyal readers.
The first job was at “Al’s Friendly Market”. Al’s was a neighborhood convenience/grocery store on the corner of Annapolis and Howe. I really hope considering that Wayne is part of the vast and tightly woven Detroit Metro Sprawl that Howe Road was named for the Great Gordie Howe, the best Hockey player that ever lived … FUCK YOU WAYNE GRETZKY … I kid I kid I’m from Michigan gotta support the Wings baby! My friend Eric worked there for most of our freshman year and when one of the other guys quit he recommended me for the job.
This was my first experience in a working environment that didn’t count helping out on my grandfather’s farm on the weekends. We worked three days every week with a rotating fourth day among the two stock boys from 3:30 to 10:00 pm for $3.00 an hour. Minimum wage was $4.15 when I started working at Al’s but there was a law on the books that kids under the age of sixteen could be paid less if their parents agreed to it and if they didn’t work more than an average of twenty eight hours in a week.
The routine was simple we came in counted and sorted the returns, Michigan had and still has a ten cent deposit on beverage bottles and cans. When we were done doing that we cleaned out and restocked the expansive cooler loading the dairy, soda, and beer sections. After we finished that we were to stock and dust the shelves and then sweep and mop the entire store along with cleaning the one non public restroom.
During all of that we still had to handle any returns that came in and keep the cooler fully stocked and rotated. And let us never forget that anytime more than one black kid was in the store I was expected to follow them around and make sure that they didn’t make off with any Twinkies or condoms.
In essence I was a Clerk.
Al was a good boss most of the time but he liked to squeeze a fucking nickel till it bled. He expected you to do your job for the honestly bullshit wage he was paying but he didn’t expect you to bust your nuts in the process. As long as you weren’t standing around for hours on end doing nothing or playing your Gameboy in the restroom (ahem … Billy) he was pretty easy to get along with. His wife Mary wasn’t too bad either, she was easy to get along with but you never forgot that you were an employee and she was the boss. But still she was a decent sort.
Their kids were another matter.
Whenever Mary or Al needed a day or a shift off we had to deal with their spoiled bastard offspring. Norman was an Air Force ROTC Student at Purdue who was always perpetually thirty pounds overweight and arrogant as fuck. When he was there he ruled the store like an aloof Emir. You were beneath him unless he wanted you to do a task for him. The oldest daughter was the spoiled little princess who delighted in making fun of you with her friends and siblings in Arabic right in front of you … I mean seriously, can you blame me for pissing on her car on more than one occasion?
Well fuck you, you try working for them.
Well let’s be honest, you know show our ass and shame the devil. We, and by we I mean me because I won’t speak for anyone else, were less than rule abiding employees. Al allowed us to by pops from him at $.50 a bottle telling us that that was cost and so we felt like he was doing us a favor. We all quickly learned that cost was more like $.20 a bottle and that the bastard was not really being such a good guy. So we started stealing bottles of pop. We would buy one when we arrived for work and then lift one or two more from the cooler as the night went on. I think he always knew we were doing it but he never called us on it.
Then of course there were the porno magazines.
Every night we had to gather all of the trash in the store and take it to the dumpster behind the building. The porn rack was at ground level right in front of the little office at the front of the store. It became apparent that if we timed it right and were a little careful we could be the ultimate porno ninjas. As we emptied the office trash we would slip a couple of magazines into the large box we would use to gather the debris from around the store. There was always that instant as we went to leave the store when my heart would race … I won’t lie to you, it was a little invigorating. Then it was a simple matter to hide the magazines behind the dumpster and then pick them up as we left work.
Some of you might have be saying, “So what, it’s just porn what’s the big deal?” Well let me tell you this was way before the internet, because I am an old fuck, and being able to get hands on porn was one of the holy grails of being a teenage boy with a hard dick and no girl that would care to give you the time of day let alone allow you to share it with her … at least not if you didn’t have a car with a CD player.
There was one time I fucked up the routine. Al had two other kids, daughters, one was really little but the other was my age and her name was, still probably is, Raina. Let me just tell you I’ve always found Arab girls extremely attractive, and Raina was gorgeous. Of course she had no interest in me but she was definitely a good source of fourteen year old fantasy material. One day instead of leaving the magazine outside I took it back to the restroom to enjoy it later on. I was half of the way through taking matters “Into My Own Hands” when the bathroom door opened and there was Raina. We locked eyes and her mouth opened and her eyes widened in shock. Before I could do anything like hide my shame, drop the magazine, or fuck say “hey what do you think of this?” as I pointed at my rigid yet diminutive dick. She mumbled sorry and slammed the door shut.
So basically I lived Fast Times at Ridgemont High and I was Judge fucking Reinhold.
There was never any blowback from the incident. Hell I like to think that Raina later decided that she had had missed an opportunity to try out a chubby guy and for years after she thought about that incident as sexier much more well hung dudes gave her a better ride than my best version of “Fantasy Josh” ever could of.
But probably not.
I worked there for over a year and there dozens of stories I could probably add to this tale, and might later. But eventually my stepmother got my father to break the promise he made to me that I would go to the same school when I moved in with him and we moved to Belleville.
I quit working for Al and I think it was good thing for him. It was not to long after that the slippery old man who knows Karate and kept an illegal .44 magnum under that counter (he no shit chased some thieving fuckers down the street threatening shoot them with it one night) became the mayor of my home town. So I guess it’s not such a big deal that I spent a year lifting pops and stealing porno from him.
Although I bet he’d use the .44 on me if he knew his daughter caught me jerking it to stolen porn in the restroom … but it was still worth it.