Following the gothic/industrial music label debacle, I decided that it was time to use my Business Economics degree and dip my toe into the wonderful world of accounting. I ended up at a small, family-owned payroll, bookkeeping and tax business. I mentioned last time that I had written a short story about working there, which I will eventually post, but needless to say I was b-o-r-e-d out of my ever loving g-o-u-r-d. I became so efficient at my job that I was able to finish everything that needed to be done within the first two hours on the worst days, and found myself eagerly awaiting quarter end so that I at least had something vaguely challenging to do. Without internet access, being micromanaged about shaving everyday, having paid tax preparation classes dangled in front of me only to have the prospect taken away due to "not being necessary at this time," and finally that damned radio station that I am positive is still playing the same songs in the same order ten years later left me bitter to the maximum. Odd thing was that when I put in my two weeks notice, the lady boss cried and said that I was the best employee they had ever had. This left me feeling like a total creep, but at the same time, if they had followed through on the proposed plan to make me a licensed tax preparer, I might still be there today.
The Game Corporation: I immediately started here upon ending the payroll job and to be honest, this was one of my all time favorite jobs. I showed up for the Saturday game corporation job interview in fairly relaxed clothes, since that is what I was told was acceptable. I was blown away to find the man who would be my boss in shorts and a short-sleeved button-up shirt and the woman who was his boss, who I could tell immediately that I would not be able to deal with. According to my boss, who ever since is a great friend of mine that I regretfully see all too little of nowadays, he had me picked for the merchandise distributor job immediately, and he laughed when I mentioned that I had been worried about the man in the full suit who was to be interviewed after me, saying that the man was a total douche.
I immediately made friends with all of the workers there and became a fairly close-knit group, having parties, testing new games, happy hours, and attending Tee-Off martini lunch specials (they regretfully have not done these for years). I was given a territory of stores that I then would allocate the various board games, card games, chess sets, puzzles and such in a manner that would take into account current need based on past sales trends all while anticipating busier times (Christmas) and special events. The capper on this was that I was specialized to be the distributer of video games to the handful of stairs that were allowed to carry them. I was in heaven. I regularly received free PSone games for myself and my boss and I was able to secure the PS2 system for myself, although I did have to camp out for it. Times were fun there, my boss and our other buddies would have meetings in the printer room, where we would have tequila from someones flask and then break to go back to work. Occasionally, we would play practical jokes such as filling the printer room with balloons (floor to ceiling) or parking so close to our friends new car that he could not get in.
Another shocker in a most positive way was that I received a $2000 bonus after being there for only two months. I know. Shocking. Especially after what I had been used to dealing with. If I had actually been there for a full year, my bonus would have been closer to my yearly salary, but I can put this down to eternal bad time and I was not going to complain about two grand. The reason for the bonus could be summed up in one word: Pokemon.
Pokemon had appeared on the scene a few months before I was hired, and it was a smash. Lines of children wrapped around the block hoping to leave the store with a rare-as-gold 1st edition pack of Pokemon cards that hopefully would have the fabled holofoil card of Charipenis or whatever the cute dragon creature's name was (Charmander? Charizoid?). Pokemon had turned Wizards of the Coast, who currently had the exclusive license to the Japanese card game sensation, into a overnight sensation and the card game greatly surpassed their other properties of Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering. Unbeknownst to me, when I was hired by the local game company, Wizards of the Coast or WotC as we called it, had bought the company that hired me and they in turn had been bought by Hasbro. The owners of the game company made bundles of cash in the deal as did plenty of people on the WotC side.
*Brief interlude side story. At WotC, whose headquarters were in Washington state, there was rumored to have been an employee that lived at the offices. Not just worked into the wee hours of the night, but this guy would get up early, work until everyone had left, grab a sleeping bag and sleep under his desk. When the Hasbro deal went through, this man became a millionaire, just like that. Apparently, after becoming a millionaire, he continued to sleep under his desk until higher-ups eventually had to tell him to lighten up and to go buy something. Live a little. Wish it had been me.
Anyhow, the owners of the local company that hired me to be the merchandise distributor, were four sisters that were brutally ruthless to each other with no regard to any of their employees. Typical days at the office involved them yelling at one another across the expanse of the offices and the attached warehouse. To stress this matter, it needs to be understood, that the company was on the tech-positive side, meaning that we did have phones with the ability to call directly to the other offices, these women chose to scream at each other as opposed to picking up the phone and quietly telling one another to "go fuck yourself, you stupid bitch." This was shocking to one's nerves, especially when we happened to be in the crossfire of all four of them, which probably explained the tequila meetings in the printer room. Funny.
*Come to think of it, that job had so much wackiness going on that I could write a short novel around it with the drama, the screaming and such, but I should finish.
Problems started when Pokemon was flooded into the market and WotC continued plugging away as if this phenomenon was set to be a constant and not the fad that we all knew it to be. The warehouse was eventually moved to Texas to centralize distribution. The Goleta Merchandise Distributors took over the ordering for most of the items at the WotC stores, which was in their favor since we really did know what we were doing. The sister who was my boss's boss soon left to work at a startup toy company (thank goodness), another sister left as well, and the one that for the most part ran the locally owned chain of stores was chased out by WotC, or rather paid to go away. This was good for her, despite having put her heart and soul into the business, and I had the utmost respect for her business savvy. Unfortunately, she was a bit too vocal over various business decisions that were going down in the company and WotC felt the need to chase her away. The fourth sister stayed on and was rather nice, and without her sisters to scream at was actually very pleasant.
To wrap this up, WotC decided to expand their stores almost exponentially. Stores were opening everywhere and with little regard to location or the demographics of the populace around. I heard of stores opening between Kaybee Toys and GameStops and with the Pokemon gravy train slowing down, stores open for but three months began to close. Following this, the promised bonuses were drastically reduced and employees were being laid off left and right. The Goleta office was to be shut down and we were training our replacements, although an offer was made to me to transfer to Washington, but I turned it down on the suspicion that I would move there only to be let go shortly thereafter, which would have been the case. My boss was heavily pursued to move up, but he refused as well. The last few weeks were fun-filled with frisbee golf expeditions, croquet with beer on the front lawn, Tee-Off martini lunches and trying to burn through our sick pay, which we could not do. When all was said and done, I was let go with six weeks severance, my bonus, four weeks of vacation pay, a week of sick pay, and unemployment. I then spent two months of the best times ever, living large and having fun with our teacher friends, before even attempting to look for a new job, which I unfortunately found.