Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Junk Store Blues

That title is mis-leading. I did not have the blues. I liked working
at my junk store. When we left off yesterday, I was talking about
the basement hardware department, and I promised you some
toilet tales and a lie-detector story. I always keep my promises.

The basement also housed the wallpaper stock. We had some
good wallpaper, if you could find enough for what you needed.
It was stored in bins like children's cubbies at school. They were
all around the walls, and in rows down the middle, about chest
high. The guys selling paint and tools and buckets of wallpaper
paste were kind of busy earning their commission, so they let
the people browse until they needed the accessories for their
wallpaper job. Some of the browsers were not actually there
to buy wallpaper! I know, hard to believe, isn't it? About once
a week, we would hear Charlotte called down to the wallpaper
section. Since Charlotte was my boss, and I knew she didn't
have anything to do with wallpaper, I was curious. I asked
Joyce, who was floor manager. "Oh, somebody took a s***
again down in wallpaper." Like it was routine. And it was.

Charlotte cleaned it up. Nothing phased that woman. She was
about 6 feet tall, with bleached-blond Dolly Parton hair, and
a couple of other Dolly Parton attributes as well (and I don't
just mean the make-up she caked on). She was kind of
countrified. Some days, we took an hour lunch instead of
30 minutes. We had to clock in and out, so we didn't cheat
the store. We walked next door for some sweet and sour
chicken, then got my car and drove to Wal-mart. Charlotte
shopped for make-up. It was her passion. She even tried to
get ME to buy make-up. "You'd look real pretty with this," she
said (not knowing that later in life a woman would follow me
around Save-A-Lot declaring "You are SO PRETTY!" --even
though I still didn't wear make-up). Anyhoo, Charlotte came
back from s*** detail and announced, "That was no kid. It was
THIS long." It must have been some perv coming in each week.
A normal person wouldn't do that. We didn't see anybody
squatting down to take a s*** in Wal-mart's aisles.

The store had a public bathroom. I should say A BATHROOM.
That was it. One toilet with a sink, for the entire store. US and
the customers. Men and women. Unsurprisingly, the toilet over-
flowed about as often as the perv took a s*** in the basement.
That was Charlotte's job, too. She got the plunger, and the mop,
and cleaned up. The thing people didn't know was that if the
extra roll of toilet paper was sitting on the floor when the flood
came, it stayed there. I NEVER used the toilet paper there. Don't
get your panties in a wad--I took Kleenex in my purse. In fact,
WE tried to wait until lunch, and use the Chinese restaurant's
bathroom. Ha. They probably had some such horror tale to tell

One day we sat around the break room, which was really a little
storeroom in the boot department, with empty boot boxes on
the shelves. Not all were empty. It was also our Lay-A-Way
room. Yes, people put things on Lay-A-Way at the junk store.
They came in to make payments, too. Their stuff was kept in
a boot box. We numbered the shelves and boxes. Shh...don't
tell anyone, but that's where we hid the money overnight. We
changed which box it was every week. Vera did not think
burglars would search through every box, looking for money.
So we were having a soda, and Charlotte kept squirming, and
poked at her boob area. She said, "Something keeps itching me."
She went into the bathroom. A few minutes later, she came out
and announced, "It was a tick...and he was grinning from ear
to ear!"

Those people working there were a riot. They treated me nicer
than people anywhere I have ever worked. I can generally fit
in with any crowd except snobs, but some crowds treat me
better than others. We went out to bars, we had barbeques
at Penny-the-manly-woman's house, we went swimming in the
James River, we went to Silver Dollar City. It was a fun time.
A new girl, Becky, had a crush on little-man Randy from the
hardware department. She chased after him. He was friendly.
He and another guy got tickets to see Randall "Tex" Cobb.
Becky thought this was a country singer. She talked about
how much she liked Randall "Tex" Cobb. Randy looked at
her funny, but he went and got a ticket and invited her. She
was all excited for a week: "Randy is taking me to see Randall
"Tex" Cobb!" After the date, Charlotte asked her if she had
a good time. Becky said, "It was a BOXING MATCH!"
Uh...yeah. Randall "Tex" Cobb was a heavyweight boxer.

On the weekends, I had to be cashier, because Charlotte
only worked Monday-Friday. We had two cashiers, so it
wasn't too bad, depending on who else worked. Maxine
was kind of pissy, but good with the customers, IF she
wasn't out taking an unofficial smoke break. Weekends
were like being in No Man's Land--all the bosses, including
Vera, were off. Tracy was a little spacey young thing, but
she could be bossed around. Hazel was just like her name,
kind of old and boring, but agreeable and a good worker.
There were usually three of us, with Dennis the security
guard, and Sherry the boot girl, and the commission guys.
The worst one to be scheduled with was Everett, Joyce's
senior-in-high-school son.

Everett thought he was boss, because of his mom. He was kind
of prissy, immature in many ways, but mature enough to tell off
the customers in a polite way. He liked to play around and not do
his fair share. Unless there was a rush, one person ran the register,
and the other two straightened up the store. You had to watch
Everett, or he would get you on the register and never come back.
The trick was to get him there, and not respond when he called. He
only got mad about it once, when Hazel and I hid in Rubber Boots
and would not go back up front. He cussed us out pretty good, but
forgot about it when we called him to cut up a credit card. He loved
doing that. We'd call Checkrite if there was a problem scanning it in
our little machine, and they'd tell us to destroy the card. When those
people said, "Uh...I meant to use my other one. I'll just take that back,"
Everett pulled it back from their outstretched hands. "Oh, we have to
destroy this one. It's no good." Snip snip, right in front of them. Then
they got mad and left without buying.

One weekend, the register was $50 short. We were supposed to
cash out, and not let anyone else on our register unless it was for
break. I had seen Everett take money before and put it under the
tray. He did something funny with the commission slips, too, but I
couldn't figure it out. Anyhoo, the big boss was mad about
someone stealing $50. He called in an investigator with a polygraph.
We all had to take it. We went down to the basement, to the big
guy's office, one at a time. The investigator strapped me into the
chest strap and the finger thingy and told me to answer truthfully,
then to answer with a lie, so he could get a baseline. He asked me
all kinds of stuff, like did I take the money. I answered no. He also
asked me if I knew who took the money. I answered yes, because
I thought Everett did it. He was the only one I saw fiddle with the
money. He must have confessed or failed his polygraph, because
nobody ever asked me WHO took it. Everett kept working there.
I guess because of his mom being a good employee.

One day Charlotte caught a man stealing Hanes underwear. It
wasn't used, in was in packages of 3. The man had his coat partly
unzipped, and stuffed about 10 packs in there. Charlotte was
doing something behind the register when Maxine rang up some
little thing the guy had bought. Charlotte told him we'd also need
to ring up the underwear. The guy got huffy, and said, "I don't
know what you're talking about." Charlotte told him to unzip his
coat, that she had watched him stuff it full of underwear. He threw
the underwear all over the counter and stormed out.

Any time we had an indignant customer, we called Charlotte or
Maxine. One lady carried up two lamps. "These are just alike.
This one is marked $5, and this one is marked $15. I want THIS
one ($15) for $5." I told her I couldn't do that, I had to ring the
price as marked. She had a fit. I got on the PA and called up
Charlotte. She was sweet as pie. "Honey, that one is $15 because
IT WORKS." That lady walked out, too.

I'd love to tell you about Dennis the security guard and the French
tourists, or the boot-stealer, but I don't have time. I have to be
done in time to get the kids baths done and get stuff ready for
tomorrow, and still have time to watch "Skating With the Stars."
Don't hate me because you envy my life. Hate me because I'm


Blogger Redneck Diva said...

There's a SKATING with the Stars, too? What will we be watching people do with the stars next? Laundry with the Stars? Shopping with the Stars?

I am loving this story, HM!

4:08 PM  
Blogger Hillbilly Mom said...

I am SO mad at those judges! My Kristy and Lloyd are in LAST PLACE! They don't deserve it. They were ROBBED! That no-talent Bruce Jenner should be last. He was like a skating LOG, he was so wooden. Bah, humbug!

AND, Little Miss Kerrigan needs a good whackin' on the knee. I am the only person in the world who liked Ms. Trailer Trash Tonya Harding better.

If you are not a skating fan, you will think I am mental. If you know me in real life, you KNOW I am mental.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Hi Hillbilly Mom,
Sounds like your Junk Stores are nothing at all like our Op Shops. Op Shops are not for profit, run by volunteers. Your Junk Shops just sound like cut price Wal-Mart.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Hillbilly Mom said...

Bec,'s way down the scale from Wal-mart. Wal-mart is freakin' Neiman Marcus compared to Cardin's. It's all about the profit.

8:31 PM  

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