Friday, February 18

My First Job. (Part I - "Intro")

From June of 1998 to August of 2002 (ages 16-20), I worked at the Larsen Co-Op, a local hardware store/gas station less than a mile from my house.

I had previously worked as a bartender at my Dad's tavern down the street (which was ridiculously illegal). It was during the Packers 1997 Super Bowl Season, and he needed extra help during games. Eventually, I got sick of him not paying me, and quit. Through my Mother's wishes and phone calls, I got a job at the Co-Op, originally to scan product codes into their new computer system. They had moved from an old building, where they kept all records on paper, and didn't believe in registers and electricity. I think they were the last store in the north to finally stop accepting pelts as currency.

So I spent the summer of 1998 in this building, amongst a large mound of tools and cheaply-priced knick-knacks, attaching bar codes to them and entering them into the system. Somewhere along the line they decided I would be a good cashier, so when the store celebrated their grand opening in August, I was the first person the customers would see. I knew everyone in our small town (maybe a few hundred people, tops), and my friends would occasionally stop by to harass me and muss up my candy bar arrangements.

As a cashier, I had it pretty easy. My manager was an intense workaholic, and did everything on his own. He expected me to stay behind the counter all day, and do nothing else but check people out. There would be 8-hour days where less than 50 people would come in. I got in the habit of bringing my Game Boy along, or posting long-winded essays on the Mediocre At Best message board. On Sundays, I would drag the television out from the back room so I could watch football while the store was open. I could have literally shot a movie there during normal business hours, and now I really wish I would have. I was planning on calling it, "Clerks: the good version".

This was my first real job, and it was basically for me to stand in one place for 8 hours, carrying a bag of bird seed to someone's car every now and then. Being the center of town, people would stop by just to talk. In the 4 years that I worked there, I became somewhat of a bartender without alcohol. I listened to people's problems, handed out advice and receipts, broke up fights and threw people out. I saw things that I never want to see again, and actually almost lost my life on more than one occasion. I never thought that so many stories that make up my personality would come from this one building when I was a teenager.

I'd like to share some of these stories with you, if at all possible.

My first chapter will come this weekend.


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