In February of 2003, I was hired for a job at a major retail store. It was crap pay, I was pushing carts, and I was trained by a mentally disabled guy (which, in itself, is not necessary a bad thing). In any instance, through the rain, sleet, and snow, I pushed carts like no one’s business. And, through slight (no… “sight” isn’t the best word… how about “nearly nonexistent”) raises, I went from crap pay to finally making living wages (and, by “living,” I meant it was now Ramen noodles and sugar water for my sophisticated taste).
For my efforts, I was recognized by both my peers within the store and the upper management of the company. My hard work eventually resulted in my cart-pushing self to get called in from the cold and into the back room, of all place. Unbeknownst to me, I had been promoted, and I would then help unload the truck that came to supply the store.
It paid a little more, but was an overnight shift. Just what my poor body needed: the disruption of my circadian cycle. However, I got to hang with the motley crew of the store— folks who were a real departure from the almost polished ones that walked during the day. One was an older woman who was a “cat lady,” and reeked of ammonia. I was so nice to her, that she invited me to Thanksgiving (over her daughter’s house).
Another was a smart, and beautiful redheaded young woman who seemed to be mismatched (in my opinion) with this hulking figure, who honestly looked like he couldn’t string together a cohesive sentence. I remember distinctly seeing her for the first time and saying to myself, “Wow, I am really attracted to Gingers! Damn, she got a bodyguard for a boyfriend.”
There was this biracial woman who was also smart (and attractive) with a dry wit and a love of the band Incubus. I think she went on to become a lawyer… Anyway, I remember she was relatively skinny, but had a chest that for her was uncomfortably huge. As sure as I know she’s an attorney, I also know she got a reduction. I don’t know why I remember the women mostly, or even why it matters, as it doesn’t pertain to the story…
It was hard, physical work; made even more intense by the supervisor to whom I’d be introduced. He was an older man, with a drawl too southern for him to have been born and raised local; and, for it to be as early as it was, he always seemed to be hopped up (my money says it was cocaine). He made sure to keep the unloading of the truck going by any means necessary. But, I was getting loads of upper-body exercise. Plus, I was learning all the behind-the-scenes stuff as well.
I eventually got to the point where I was helping with stocking, signing, pricing, and would even step in when the sole logistics specialist would go on vacations. A team member once referred to me as a Jack of all trades. As much of a Swiss Army knife I would make myself out to be, I still got passed over for positions I applied for. Neither my years, work ethic, reputation, or my (above and beyond) expertise would seem to even get me an interview. I remember there was this Scottish guy that apparently I disliked for no good reason seemed to apply for and get this whole new position that was created. The position, much like he did, didn’t come out of thin air; it was announced and open for all to apply. I was encouraged by my coworkers to go for it, as it seemed custom made for me. I guess it wasn’t.
There’s more stories about that place that I can tell, but I guess the greatest insult they served me was the events of just last year: of which was within this saga. After having worked virtually drama-free for five years— a few months of which were while I was working at the “other place,” but I did it because I wanted to hit a personal goal of my five-year mark before I left— and then needing to come back just about eight years later, I was rejected… A message from Target
That stung, especially given the circumstances. Just went to show me through the hard work I’d put in, the many times I swallowed my pride after having been called an “Uncle Tom” on the sly by crab-like folks who didn’t evidently work as hard, having to shrug off being snubbed for a better role that I was clearly qualified for, seeing such proof in the terrible leadership that was in place, not even up and quitting or putting in the traditional two weeks, but SEVERAL MONTHS notice— none of that seemed to matter when I reapplied, ironically, to push their carts.