Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Still Thinking About Up in the Air...part 1

I suppose that Up in the Air is considered a comedy, although a dark one, and I found myself laughing through various parts, but not because they were funny. More so that I could relate to the subject matter completely from the various bad luck that I have had with jobs from ages past. Probably the best way to describe what I mean is to list them off (not counting the fast food job, which first opened my eyes to the seedy underside of humanity)

Music Store: I worked, regrettably, for the music chain store for just over six years. It was considered a "family store", despite having an extensive porno collection for both rental and sale, really bad - musically speaking - rap and heavy metal music (Yanni and John Tesh, too. God help us all) and scores of underpaid "associates." Do not get me wrong, I dearly loved many of the people who I worked with and being close to music was wonderful, but retail is a minor step up from food service, considering that you still have to deal with the public. Anyways, the downtown store where I was assistant manager was eventually shut down due to a combination of the property management company refusing to negotiate on the astronomical lease and the poor performance of the company itself. When the time came to close down the store, I was already almost out the door having been working as a barback at my favorite bar and interning at a gothic/industrial music label and distributor, and falling in love with my now wife, so I really could have cared less. On the last day, the district manager came in and pulled each of the remaining employees aside to discuss "options".
My option went a little like this, "So, Donist. I know that we have had our differences in the past..." Differences being that on two occasions, he had made a surprise visit to the store and my button-up shirt had not been tucked in. For a family-friendly store, my untucked shirt must have been what put the final nail in the coffin for my location. "...but we do have some options. As you know, there are no open Assistant Manager positions at the uptown store, but we can bring you on as a Product Specialist. You will also need to be flexible with your time and there will be a decrease in pay. How does that sound?"
"Nah." I said, "I'll just take my final check." That was that.

Gothic/Industrial record label and the Bar: The bar was fun for awhile, but Donist was a big boy and tended to get in the way of the bartenders. For very few hours a night, I was, by my standards, making a ton of money for cleaning glasses, restocking ice and restocking booze. I would get free shots throughout the night and the beautiful bartenders would paw all over me, which I did not mind in the slightest. Unfortunately, I did indeed get in the way, and due to my size was moved to the back entrance as a bouncer. For a while, this worked out fine, but the bar began to see an upsurge in patrons, which was good and bad. On one hand, girls would try to tempt me to let them in through the back when the front entrance was not letting them in, and they too would paw all over me.  On one especially busy evening, I told one woman, "Why would I ever let you in the bar, when I am having so much fun with you right here?" She stuck her tongue out at me and went back to the front and eventually got in and came back to tell me that she was not mad at me.  On the other hand, however, the hours were late and now that I was a bouncer, I was expected to be a bouncer, which I whole heartedly am not. As popularity grew, so did the vast number of douchebags that were showing up and fights began to breakout regularly. It would take a long walk home and at least an hour to decompress enough to actually get to sleep due to my elevated stress levels. The final straw was when I found myself pinning two gangsters on the ground outside of the bar after an immense fight had begun and carried into the street. As I told them, "The cops are on the way, you better get out of here," I began to question why I was having to pin two grown adults to the concrete from among the twenty random people fighting on the street and I decided to turn in my two weeks notice. The place was no longer good for my health.
The record label, where I worked during the day, was everything that I thought that I had wanted. I still had music in my life, it was somewhat glamorous, I was not about to be written up for being a dollar short on my drawer or reprimanded for not tucking in my shirt, and I was able to help out with various local shows that happened. At this job, I was Product Manager, a cool title and the working days were busy, fun even. We would go through some of the catalog titles and play them aloud, wincing at just how horrible some of the groups were, but the real problems quickly became apparent; money being the key problem. The owner of the company was bad with money to the extreme, and would shift it around to mostly promote his own band, which was incredibly good, and not pay many of the other artist that he had through the label and distribution. There was at one point a large influx of money from a younger woman who had received a sizeable inheritance, but she was ultimately taken for a ride on that, as was myself and the other employees. Long story short, I was having to wait longer and longer periods of time to receive my paycheck, and creditors and angry musicians were calling for payment non-stop. I eventually went "on strike," refusing to work until my past due paychecks were given to me. I would still go to the office in hopes of being paid, but I would spend that time working on and faxing my resumes to new places of possible employment. By the time I did leave, shortly before the companies collapse, I still had to fight it out with my employer due to being classified as an outside contractor in his effort to evade taxes that I was now on the hook for. After not receiving any call backs from my old boss, I eventually sent a letter (freshly armed with the knowledge of state law that I had gained from the payroll place that I was working at) that prompted my ex-boss to pay all of the taxes that were due.  I also received a note that said that he was sorry, but he had been incredibly busy.  I should mention that I am still very good friends with one of the employees from the record label to this day, although I do not see him enough.
Next time....the payroll place. I had written a short story about life there, so I might just post that. It's a bit longer than my normal overly long rants, but I think it is funny.


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