Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What I Learned From My First College Job

I was fortunate enough that my parents were able to pay for my college at Rutgers University. I had enough free time to visit a plethora of New Brunswick bars with names like the Corner Tavern, the Golden Rail, The Knight Club, and the Scarlet Pub (Go Scarlet Knights!).  I also had a enough time to join my fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, which was one of the best social experiences I have ever had.

My parents did make the point of stating that any "extras" at college such as the fraternity and my beer nights had to be paid for be myself. That meant money for dollar pitcher night at the Corner Tavern had to come from somewhere.  I needed work!

My first job at Rutgers was in the Fall of 1988. I figured I wanted some extra cash freshman year so I took a part time job a couple shifts during the week. I didn't want anything too strenuous. Something fun where I could meet cool people. The coolest store I could think of on campus was Benneton. It was and still is a hip, diverse clothing store for young men and women.

Benneton's ad campaigns feature teens and twentysomethings from around the world. Such cool and diverse people! I wanted to be one of them!!!  After all, I was the new freshman student who had just joined over 10 different community organizations trying to save the world! Now, I would look the hip part too! (Side bar:  by sophomore year, I decided not to save the world.)

I applied to Benneton and was hired almost immediately. They must have had a need for geeky skinny white boys in their diversity campaign. My training class consisted of a Hispanic young lady, an African American man, and a German young guy named Franz who was very mean to me. He was a junior... whatever. He had no idea what good beer was. He thought it was Becks. Hadn't he ever heard of Meister Brau? (Or Meister Chow as we lovingly referred to it in the fraternity.)

My first day there I was introduced to the manager Sue Ann who wasn't much older than me. She acted like she was right out of a prep school, way above me in terms of social standing. She was nice at first but ultimately very pretentious. I figured I could win her over.

Well it didn't go as well as I expected. It was pretty much understood that I was Sue Ann's Benneton servant. After sizing me up for 10 minutes, she stated that she figured all I could do for my first day was fold sweaters. So that's all I did for 5 hours ... was fold wool and mohair sweaters while breaking out in hives. Did I mention I was allergic to wool and mohair? Just my luck. Franz laughed at me. "Hahaha, you fold sweaters. You get swelling bumps. I already on floor. Haha, freshman boy only fold sweaters."

After 5 hours of folding sweaters, Sue Ann informed me that she didn't like the sweater that Mom had bought me (I think it was from Chess King or Oak Tree), so I would have to buy Benneton's clothes and wear them exclusively. BUT she added ... I did got a 10% discount.  Uh... excuse me, wasn't I working here for minimum wage? I couldn't afford to buy clothes AND have enough left over for pitcher night at the Corner Tavern!

At the end of my shift, I thanked Sue Ann for the day and promptly informed her I decided I didn't like Benneton clothes after folding sweaters for 5 hours. Did they have anything, say, in cashmere or rayon, something a little more hip?  She said absolutely not and that this wasn't Chess King! I said OK thanks, I will work elsewhere and I walked! I learned the art of begging for money from my parents the rest of the semester  (And very well I might add.  Mother taught me the art of Jewish guilt very well!)

I also learned I was allergic to wool and mohair, I hated drab colors, and I hated JUST HATED folding sweaters!!!!

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