Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Monday, July 30, 2018

My Shortest Job: Part Two (the Stars Wars Trilogy)

(LINK Suncoast Pic)

My second shortest job lasted just shy of one week. It was at that extinct dinosaur of a video store, Suncoast Video at the old Echelon Mall in Voorhees, NJ.
The year was 1990, I was 20, and the Star Wars Trilogy 3 VHS tape collection was just released. I was and still AM a total Star Wars fan! I was in a word, ecstatic!

Being a poor college student, I could only wander between Sam Goody and Suncoast video and dream of what movies I wanted to buy! The Star Wars Trilogy was at the top of the list. But how to get it? I had finished my sophomore year at Rutgers with just barely enough gas money to get me from New Brunswick, NJ back to my hometown of Wenonah, NJ.

Back from college for the summer, I immediately plotted on how I would be able to purchase the Trilogy. Dad asked me if I was going to get a summer job and I was said, maybe, I'm not sure, perhaps, something easy with lots of money. It was the summer after my sophomore year and honestly, I just wanted to chill and enjoy myself.

OK back to the plotting... how to get a summer job and buy the Trilogy. I considered doing yard work for money, NOPE. I wanted to work in a fun place with people my own age in AIR CONDITIONING! Suddenly a bright light bulb went off above my head. Why not get a job where I was could get the Star Wars Trilogy, get an employee discount on the Trilogy AND work in air conditioning? The local mall!

I immediately drove down in our 1987 red Nissan Sentra to the Suncoast video at the Echelon Mall and applied for a retail position. They called two days later and scheduled me for an interview. I met the manager, a very tall and pretty gal in her upper 20s named Daniele. She was gung-ho and 100% Miss SUNCOAST VIDEO. OK I thought, I gotta shmooze this gal...

(Not my pic) 
The shmoozing was pretty much the easy part. I was always good at that. Being the baby child in a family with my older brother and sister, I developed the skill of winning over people to get what I needed. I was soon hired and had a start date the next week.

Daniele met me the first day and brought me around the store. After a 30 minute meaningless tour of where the horror movies were, the drama, the comedy, the romance, and also something called the classics, she put me on the floor to begin just helping people.

30 minutes later of me hiding behind the fantasy/sci-fi videos just drooling over the Star Wars Trilogy VHS box set, some kid walked up, "Where are the horror movies?" "I dunno, over there," rolling my eyes and pointing towards the musicals. "OK, thanks man."

After another couple minutes, someone else needed help! UGH! Such needy people!!! It was some older lady. "Young boy, can you tell me where the documentaries are?" I replied, "I don't even know what those are!" I shuffled her off to the classics.

Daniele came over an hour later and asked how everything was going, "Great!" I exclaimed. "I'm helping lots of people!" "OK," she replied. I knew she didn't buy it. I really didn't care because my next question was the all important one.

"Um, Daniele, I have a question. What's my employee discount? Do I get one?"
"Yeah, of course! 30%. Do you see something you want?"
"Uuuuh, I dunno, I'm just wondering," (knowing full well that I was gonna get that VHS box set on my first paycheck.) "And when do we get paid?"
"Well Marc, you'll get a smaller paycheck because it's not a full pay period, but we'll pay you on Friday."
"Oh that's OK, I was ... just wondering about that too."
"OK, if you have any questions, lemme know." Daniele retreated to the office to work on something involving boring paperwork.

Someone else came up and asked if I knew if they had any movie posters and I replied that I didn't work there. He pointed out that I had a name-tag on (damn that name-tag) and I told him that I kept forgetting that I worked there since it was my first day. I directed him over to the movie t-shirts instead.

The week passed so slow with me each day constantly misdirecting people in the store. I finally worked that Friday eagerly awaiting my paycheck. When Daniele gave it to me, I noticed it had been written on a bank in the mall. She confirmed that I could cash it on my break if I wanted to. As soon as that clock hit 3:30pm, I bolted out of the store and hit the bank for some cold hard cash.

Coming back from break, I had 5 minutes left to buy the VHS set. I plunked down the cash and of course made sure I got that all important 30% discount. One of the sales gals put it in a Suncoast Video bag and I deposited it in the employee break room until the end of the day. I couldn't wait for the shift to end! I sped home as quick as my little red Nissan Sentra could take me.

I barely ate dinner and that evening watched a marathon of the first Star Wars: A New Hope, then The Empire Strikes Back and finally Return of the Jedi VHS tapes in one sitting late into the evening. I called Daniele on Saturday and informed her that I wouldn't be coming into work on Sunday. She asked me if I were sick and I stated "Sorry, I misspoke. I won't be coming back into work at all."

We had a brief conversation on the reasons why: I didn't think retail was for me, I bought the Star Wars Triology, and I didn't like helping people. She told me I sucked and hung up on me.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

My Shortest Job: Part One

Image result for united colors of benetton rutgers
"Benetton ad from the  80's UGH"

Those who are adults have each had them. I'm talking about those JOBS where we have lasted a week or less! Maybe it was planned, maybe not. We look back and laugh at those times as adults. Maybe we were assholes and deserved to get fired. Or maybe it just wasn't the right fit of a job for us. That being said, I wasn't fired.

That actually happened once at a telemarketing agency. Another blog, another time. LOL Leaving the job at Benetton was MY decision! :) The second time at Sun Coast Video was actually a calculated event which I writing about in the next blog!

I took the job at Benetton while I was at Rutgers University during my freshman year at college. It was 1988 and I went to work for them at their New Brunswick NJ location right next to the official Rutgers Bookstore. I had no retail experience whatsoever and told them that upon my hiring. They said no problem, we'll train you. My first day I was put on the floor. I tried to wear snappy clothes. LOL Something that wouldn't make me look like the big nerd that I was.       

So I began my first shift and was ordered into the backroom. The manager was this twenty something German accented dude named Karl or Klaus or whatever who proceeded to rip me up and down about the clothes that I wore to my first day. Now REALIZE I was a RUTGERS student. I wore a Rutgers sweatshirt to my first day as I had not been given any other directive and DUH!!!! WE WERE ON THE RU CAMPUS! 

Karl or Klaus directed me rather caustically to handle the front. Um.. what was I supposed to do? He stated in rather blunt English, "Handle the customers!" and walked away. OK, that was specific enough. People came in and I welcomed them to Benetton. NOPE apparently I was wrong. 

Image result for united colors of benetton rutgers

What's his name rushed up to me and said, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?" 
I replied, "Well, I am welcoming them into the store...."
The brusque German stated, "You SHOULD be offering them options for clothing!!!!" 
"OK, I will try harder. Um, it's my first day, remember?"
He turned quickly and marched away without saying anything. It was rather sudden and I was a little taken aback. But I still thought, what an asshole!

I stood there for a second and was thought to myself, OK... and went back to the same thing I was doing except I added, "Sweaters are over there and other stuff is over there," pointing to no-where in particular.

K-MAN came back up to me within 5 five minutes and took me away from people muttering something under his breath like, "This just won't do."  He put me on sweater duty. Now what is sweater duty you may ask? I folded sweaters, big clunky sweaters for the next several hours LIKE 5 HOURS!!!

Sweater folding is all that I did. Just go around the store and if a sweater was out of place or disturbed, I refolded it. At one point I was in the back of the store and everyone was up front and I remember screaming, "I HATE FOLDING SWEATERS!!!" People must've done it before because no one paid me no mind.

Klaus/Karl then took me into the back and said he needed to speak with me. "We need to do something about your clothing. It just horrible and is unacceptable. You need to wear Benetton clothes."
I replied, "OK, give me something to wear and I'll change into it."
Karl/Klaus snickered and said, "NO. We don't give, you buy."
"What??? I can't afford these clothes!? That's why I got a part time job in the first place! I can't afford anything!"
"We will allow you to pay for them over time," he brusquely countered.
"But what am I gonna do? Wear the same pants and sweater for the entire semester until I can afford to pay them off?" I exclaimed.
"Well you certainly cannot wear that," snorted KK gesturing to my Rutgers sweatshirt and acid-washed jeans.
"Are you kidding me?! You know what??? I'm DONE! I hate your crappy clothes. They are scratchy, uncomfortable and I HATE folding your ugly sweaters! I'm outta here!!"

The last thing I heard was Karl/Klaus/KK gasp LOUDLY as if he were shocked that someone FINALLY told his ass off! You would've thought I insulted Mother Teresa. I didn't wait for his reply. I marched right out of that store proudly in my Rutgers sweatshirt and my acid-washed jeans, never looking back.

The next week, I got a job in shipping and packing at the official Rutgers Bookstore next door. I worked for some old gay dude Alan in shipping and receiving who ordered me around left and right. I loved the guy. He was an awesome respectable boss and I never gave him props until now. HE WAS AWESOME. I'll never forget Alan. He was just SO GOOD at his job and I'll say it again, an awesome boss!

Benetton closed within the next couple years due to lack of business. I can't imagine why...

Monday, July 16, 2018

Childhood Summer Memories

Family Vacation Pics!

As a child, there are memories which stick with you. Then there are singular memories which stand out, for better or for worse. There also may be the occasional odd memory from a trip in which you remember nothing else. Some are wonderful, like shell collecting during my early teenage years on Sanibel Island and others aren't so wonderful, like getting attacked by green heads (biting flies) at Strathmere Beach, NJ. Each of them cemented into your psyche bring you momentary joy or scarring you for

This is a collection of the truly odd singular memories which stand out from various trips I took as child with my family, in random order, with a little explanation of each. I either chuckle or cringe each time I think of them! It's amazing what makes us up as individuals.

#1.  I was 10 or so years old, snorkeling at the now defunct Holiday Isle Resort in Islamorada, Florida. Behind the hotel, there was a quite deep swimming lagoon and just beyond that, a band of shallow coral reefs. My brother and I would snorkel for hours looking for shells and different species of sea life. I came across a sea sponge and grabbed it.

Holiday Isle Resort, Florida Keys 
So excited with my discovery, I brought it over to my brother and squeezed all the water out of it. Not a smart move. Within minutes, my hands began stinging and burning and then swelled up to resemble cabbage patch kids hands. No one had ever told me I couldn't grab them a sea sponge! I had to soak my hands for hours in vinegar to reduce to pain. Definitely not the highlight for my Florida Keys vacation.

#2.  My family was traveling up to Boston to visit my Dad's friend Larry. We ended up meeting for dinner at a French cafΓ©. I was 6 or 7. Nothing appealed to me on the menu. I insisted on eating French onion soup. It came out but was way too salty for me. I hated it. My meal that night was just a French baguette. One lonely French baguette.

#3.  My family was traveling in our Country Squire station-wagon up to Mesa Verde, the ancient Anasazi Cliff Dwellings in Colorado at an altitude of 7000 feet. The road up is was very treacherous at that time. I was 7 or 8 at the time and screaming my head off because there were no guardrails at that time! The road meandered up 7000 feet around switchbacks with the cliffs dropping off only a couple feet off the road! My parents put me in the back trunk area of the station-wagon and covered me in the summer heat with a thick woolen blanket as I continued to scream my head off.

The torture continued through the drive up 7000 feet to the Cliff Dwellings. We made it up to the top of the mesa and I survived. I saw Mesa Verde and apparently stepped onto the "four corners" spot where one goes to step onto four states at once. I don't remember anything about it. ALL I remember is being covered by a hot woolen blanket in the hot summer heat in that station-wagon screaming my head off.

#4. On the same trip, we were in New Mexico driving through the state. We visited Taos and Sante Fe, New Mexico and did all the touristy stuff. I loved it. One of the major memories HOWEVER was the family stopping at a road side rest stop in the desert. My family took a major break for 30 minutes to just relax and refresh when I decided to climb the hill behind the rest stop. Climb and climb as I might. I remember telling my folks I'd be climbing the hill and they were like... "OK see you whenever!" without a care in the world. LOL (times were different).

Vacation Pics 2!
I remember looking down below at the rest stop and I was a good 100 feet above the stop if not more! I decided to pick a beautiful pink cactus flower at the top for my Mom. Unbeknownst to me, picking the flower would result in a good hour in extreme pain! I was stuck with what seemed like a 100 or so cactus spines just for picking the flower for my Mom. Still.... to my day... I believe it was the most romantic gesture I have ever done. Even though I was only 10 or 11 and it was my mother whom plucked out every single cactus spine!. :)

#5. The year after, we spent several weeks at our family's ranch in South Dakota.  We were hunting for arrowheads on the ranch when I leaned back to regain my balance. AGAIN, I plunged my hand deep into a long spine desert cactus. The spines plunged down into my palm. It felt like they pierced right through. They were picked out by my cousin Helen Dreiske over the course of a couple of hours. There were THAT many! The nice end of the story was that I found and still have a Sioux Indian arrowhead from times past.

#6. It was the first time we traveled to New Orleans circa the early 80's during one summer. We were set to see a historical plantation home, the Houmas House, the next day. Mom and Dad made a reservation at the local Howard Johnson motel. After we settled in, we headed down to Bourbon Street to explore and get a bite to eat. Mom was just looking for a pub to grab some sandwiches and a kid's meal or two.

Mom confidently strode into a pub right on Bourbon Street commenting to Dad, "This looks like a nice place Bob ..." and then gasped. I looked up and there was a fully naked woman dancing on top of the bar. Mom had walked us into a strip club!!! I looked up and down the bar and there were breasts all over the place, several sets! With the right hook and speed of a professional fighter, Mom swung her hand down over my eyes and dragged my brother and I out of the bar.

#7. We visited Florida one year in the mid 70's and of course made the obligatory trip to Walt Disney World. I remember from that trip that I fell in love with a young black girl my age, about 7 or 8 in front of a fountain in the Main Street area. It was a short lived romance which remained all of the duration of 30 minutes perhaps. I gave her name was Josephina February after a favorite children's book from childhood. She went on her way, I went on mine. There were no children.

#8. The same year, after Walt Disney World, we visited my Dad's cousin Bob and his wife Aileen in Kissimmee, Florida. They were my Dad's age at that time, in their 50's. Their home was SO modern, lots of Asian antiques. The rooms were arranged around a central courtyard. Very modern, very chic, very sophisticated.

Vacation Pics 3!
Besides that, the ONLY other thing I remember about that entire visit is cousin Bob taking my brother Adam and I out to show us the yard and then pointing out the clouds. He stated that the cloud formations were mammatus clouds because they looked like women's breasts. But Cousin Bob stated he liked calling them "Titty clouds." I was confused and pretty mortified at this description.

#9. Apologies in advance to my sister for this embarrassing story! Love you Sheryl! My family traveled to Nova Scotia when I was 5 or 6. I remember glimpses of rolling hills with long grasses. People often compare it to the rolling hills of Scotland. In fact, it was originally settled by native Scots and therefore took the name Nova Scotia meaning New Scotland in Scottish Gaelic. Now besides the rolling hills, there is only one memory I have of a trip up to Nova Scotia.

My brother Adam, sister Sheryl, and I were in the back seat of the car. I was of course, as usual, stuck in the middle, never got the window seat. We had made a stop earlier and picked up some cherries which Mom had placed in a large bowl. Suddenly, Sheryl got nauseous in the back seat and exclaimed she was about to get sick. Mom dumped the cherries out of the bowl into the front seat and thrust the bowl back to my sister. Sheryl proceeded to get sick into the bowl. I squirmed as close to my older brother's seat as I could, with him pushing back towards my sick sister. UGH. Brothers! My poor sister recovered.

#10. The last memory which triggered the idea for this blog involved a yearly ritual with my Mother down in Ocean City, NJ. We would travel down to the Jersey shore and if we weren't on the beach or visiting my Uncle John in Ocean City, we were strolling the boardwalk. At some point during the trip, we would drive past Princess Grace of Monaco's family home/compound at the beach. My Mom was fascinated with it, I mean here was royalty and they had a beach house right in Ocean City, NJ!!!

Dad would pull over the car across the street and we'd look at the modern mansion with wonder and awe! Sometimes, someone, usually a woman it seemed, would come out onto the balcony and walk around. We'd gasp! Mom would exclaim, "Oh my God that could be Princess Grace herself!" Someone in the family would quip and joke that it was probably just the maid. Mom would shoot us a dirty look and retort, "Just be quiet!" and go back to her gazing and the woman on the balcony. We always stared at the home on the beach, hoping for a glimpse of Her Royal Highness.

Princess Grace's Ocean City home, NOT the one we gawked at!
Recently, I was trying to show a coworker the mansion through Google maps but couldn't find it. So, I looked up the home through Google and it immediately came up through the search. I spied on the map where it was located and then looked at home again. My coworker exclaimed, "WOW, what a beautiful home!". It was a Spanish-style elegant mansion commanding a corner on 26th St.and Wesley Ave. in Ocean City.

I paused, looked at the mansion again and then bust out laughing. Well, apparently, we had been gawking for years at the WRONG Ocean City mansion. The Princess Grace mansion had been across the street the entire time. No doubt Princess Grace was staring at these local tourists staring at her neighbor's home all those years... Oh well! It makes the memory all the more funnier and special now.

I look back at these memories and smile. I may not remember which touristy spot I visited but you can be rest assured I remember, for better or for worse, something about each trip! At my age, even the cringe worthy ones make me chuckle!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Midnight Wisdom

I think we need to always reevaluate and remind ourselves what is important in life. Most of what happens is not. Those that affect you positively, touch you, make you smile, are the important ones you need to constantly connect with. Forget those that bring you stress. God I wish I had this wisdom in my twenties. But those stutter steps and emotional injuries in my twenties have made me the strong person I am today. I miss the innocence though. Confidence and strength comes at a price. I wish everyone could gain the strength I have. 
It's tough though. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

I'm Troubled by Recent Events

"Little Spider is there but ya can't see him. :)"

As an unofficial rule, I normally don't comment on what is happening in our world, politically or religious. I will keep this to a minimum and keep it vague enough to satisfy my own viewpoint. I am so troubled by recent events. From the major, what is happening in the US and the world, to the smaller events (not minor, but smaller) like the election at my local Property Owners Association. It gets ugly, we all know this. And it gets me worried as well.

I worry for myself and my rights and I worry for our seniors. I worry for my neighbors and I worry for our environment. I worry for the world my niece and nephew will inherit. We have changed so far from where our parents were, as Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

It doesn't matter who you are, things have changed. And by the way, I don't want to hear anyone's opinion on the matter. It's not necessary. I am just commenting on how I've noticed such a dramatic shift. The simple fact is that the world has changed. I don't recognize it anymore. 

I glance just now at the two philodendron plants sitting on my shelf. They are actually the same philodendron plants that my mother grew from the 1980's. Over 20 years ago. They grew so much since that time, almost died, then brought back to life. I received one of them about 15 years ago and then the other after Mom passed, 9 years ago. I love the fact that these plants have been around me as long as my family.

In one of the philodendrons, the one with the faded Florida flamingo given to me by my Mom,  the tiniest of little spiders is building a web. I cannot believe how tiny. He is the size of a pinhead. He won't hurt me and probably couldn't even pierce my skin. He is just going about his way, building his nest, his home. He wants to survive. He means no harm, just wants to survive.

I won't bother him. He'll take out a couple gnats for me here and there. I am mesmerized momentarily by the web he weaves. So intricate and so detailed ... all from instinct. I'll let him live his life out. My Dad used to say having a spider in the house was good luck. Well, "Pinhead", as I'll call him, you are one lucky spider. I'll let you live.

And for that brief moment, my worries disappeared...