As soon as I turned sixteen, I was eager to get my own cash rolling in. I was tired of swiping money from my mom's purse (in my defense, my brother usually got there first. I would just come behind and take what he left, then he'd get blamed for taking it all. You've gotta admit, the plan was genius). My stepdad put in the good word for me at the hardware store he frequented.
So a couple of weeks later, yours truly was outfitted in the most hideous smock (yes, people, I said smock) making $3.35 an hour as a cashier at True Value hardware. I got hired on with a vivacious redhead who was in her twenty's. I had never met somebody with so much personality. The guy training us was so infatuated with her that he tripped over a display of chewing gum one day. He was sprawled out in the middle of a million packs of chewing gum, blushing like crazy. Kim, the redhead, definitely helped my transition into the working world.
My first day officially on the job went well. I counted back change perfectly, greeted people with a smile, all while making sure that I rang up the correct sale prices for them. At the end of the night we had to count down our drawers to account for money we took in all day. Like a total idiot, I busted open all the extra wrapped change. I think it took me like an hour to count my drawer down.
In addition to waiting on customers we had to answer the phones and determine what department to transfer the phone call to. No problem, except that you had to use the intercom to tell the department that they had a call. I didn't want to use the intercom. I knew I'd sound like a huge dork so I pretty much bribed Kim or whoever else I was working with to do it. Enter Shari. Shari is a middle-aged woman who works in Housewares (still does to this day) who has the most twisted sense of humor known to man. Unbeknownest to me, she was plotting my intercom hazing.
It was a busy Saturday with all three registers going like crazy. I was on the third which was over by itself. I always made it a point not to answer the phone when I was there because then I knew I'd have to use the intercom, which I totally wasn't going to do. The phone was ringing off the hook and the other two girls weren't making a move for it. I started to get nervous because as much as I hated using the intercom, I also hated not fulfilling a job description. I caved and answered it. It was a woman who was frantic that she needed to reach her husband (this was WAY before cell phones, people). She wanted me to page him to the front of the store to take the phone call. I thought, great, not only do I have to use the intercom, now I have to tell this guy to come to the front of the store. She insisted that I keep paging him until he came because she just knew he was there. His name was Mike Hunt.
So here I am trying to ring people up, take money, pack their purchases, smile, and now try to figure out how to not sound like a dork on the intercom. I steeled my nerves, punched the intercom button, and announced, "Mike Hunt could you come to the front of the store please. Mike Hunt to the front of the store." Several people started chuckling and I knew I must have sounded like a total geek. I kept ringing people up but Mike never showed. I got back on the phone with the woman and told her that her husband wasn't here. She insisted that I try again. So I repeated my announcement only faster this time so hopefully it wouldn't sound so bad. People were nearly doubled over in the aisles laughing. That's when I realized what my announcement really sounded like. I could hear Shari howling all the way over from housewares. I wanted to die but I couldn't because I still had customers to check out.
After my "initiation" work actually started to be a lot of fun. There were a lot of high schoolers that worked there so you always had the work crushes. People liked to sneak off to the warehouse to make out. Someone was always hijacking the intercom to fart over it or something equally hilarious.
I think the worst part of my job was all the dirty old men that would come up to the counter holding a screw and say, "Wanna screw?" It's weird because they stopped doing it after I went off on one guy telling him he was old enough to be my grandpa and that I could have him arrested. When I think about it I was a bit more outspoken back then. One night I was checking a lady out and one of her items didn't have a tag so an employee went back to check it for me. In the meantime she made the serious mistake of trying to make conversation with me. It went a little something like this.
Her: So, when are you due?
Me: Due for what (confused)?
Her: Your baby. When is your baby due?
Me: Shrieks and yanks up smock to show not quite flat, but definitely not pregnant belly while yelling. I'm only sixteen, I can't believe you thought I was pregnant. Oh my god, that's the most horrible thing anyone has ever said to me.
I'm pretty sure she left while I was still ranting. What can I say, I was all about the drama back then.
All in all, it was a fun job. I started to take on too much responsible by doing the books on the weekends, so I missed out on a lot of extracurricular activities but I learned a lot too. I worked at True Value for several years, even after I left for college I'd come back and work on breaks. They were always happy to see me, and after all these years, Shari is still hazing the newbies!
What I'm reading...I was a really good mom before I had kids by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile
Revenge of the Homecoming Queen, OUT NOW!