north-shored

A year ago, I had two jobs which I very much enjoyed.  A book store clerk and a video store clerk.  Both big chains that have thus fallen from grace.  In both cases, I sold story.  Plot.  Art.

I worked all day at the book store, then hiked across town to close the late night video store.  My car had previously gone to hell and I thought I would hoof it for awhile.  I survived on Taco Bell and rides from friends.

It kept me very busy and distracted from the fact that I was a college graduate working for minimum wage.  While my friends were doing tech support and data recovery, I was coming off a leadership position at a Cold Stone Creamery that just wasn’t doing it for me.

This was my promotion to myself.

Unfortunately, the book store closed.  The closeout liquidation was something I both wish on nobody and yet wish everyone could experience.

If you’ve ever had a store close on you, you know what I’m talking about.

People ravaging shelves and scouring racks.  Anything–anything–as long as it’s discounted.  If it isn’t discounted, it’s suddenly lava and they have to get it out of their hands.

After the book store closed, I took a deep breath and dove headfirst into my last remaining job.

…for about a month until we got word the video store closed.  I thought the book store closeout was bad, but at least we still drew an intellectual crowd.

You had to be literate to enjoy a book store liquidation.  Not so for a video store liquidation.

I saw an ugly truth in humans in those two months it took to clear the shelves.  A greedy, ravenous lust for movies.  Not films, mind you, movies.  Moving pictures.  Anything in DVD format.  Taste and opinion no longer mattered.

“This a movie?  Is it discounted?  Sold.”

There was no caps on hours, and thus, no limit on overtime pay.  Well, except for the number of hours in a day.  For my friend Brett and I, we practically lived there.

There was no more premium package to push.  No incentive to sell.  No need.

There was, however, innumerable stacks of unusable gift cards and a bucket to toss them in.  We developed a point system and rules.  It was a very elaborate test of skill.

Two jobs in as many months.  My world was crumbling.  My city was buckling.  Stores were going under left and right.  My lease was ending.  I still had no car.  My dad lost his house.  The Lord could only taketh away so much before there was nothing left to taketh.

In the meantime, my cousin Chris had moved north.  Extreme north.  Hyperboreal, I believe is the term.  He’d accepted a job as the head chef at a ski resort.  There was an opening for a server and a spare bedroom in his house.

Mountains.  A lake that looked like an ocean.  Snow bunnies.  I was hardly in a position to say no.

Plus, there was the kicker:  “It’ll be a great way to work on your writing.  No distractions.”

So I packed up all my things, had one final beer with my buddies and headed north.  Way north.  Crazy north.

When I first arrived, “opening for a server” turned into “we might have something for you.”  And “spare bedroom” turned into “there’s a room in the basement for your bed.”

No carpeting, no heat.  Just spiders and cobwebs.  Sometimes a mouse.  Occasionally it flooded.

“No distractions” turned into “you’re going to babysit.  A lot.”

And eventually “we might have something for you” became “we need you to work every day, some nights, double shifts and bartend on the busiest summer we’ve ever experienced.”  Like 300% busier.

A ski resort in the summer was something I’d never considered.  But apparently everybody else in the world had.  I was swamped.

And, technically, it was the slow season.

Winter on the North Shore is a trip.  It’s always snowing, always cold, and always gray.  But the money is good.  For some reason, people find me charming.  I was able to get a car.  It’s a Suzuki.

Yeah, apparently they make cars.

But it has a CD player and I was able to slap an Autobot symbol on the back.  Also, it beats my last vehicle:  nothing.

Cold.  Lonely.  Always babysitting.  Stretched thin at work.  And all this is happening 6 hours away from my closest friend.

But there are less distractions.  Less birthday parties, less reasons to go out, less movies on a television that doesn’t get cable, less stores to spend money at (unless you’re in the market for fudge or personalized trinkets).  Less fast food.  More exercise.

And more time to write.

I even had time to start a blog.

People say I have a real roundabout way of writing.  That there’s a lot of torturous back-story just to get to the point.

I don’t know what they’re talking about.

 

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