Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Notice Of Employment (2003)

FROM THE ARCHIVES, JULY 21 - This appeared as a postscript to a column that ran in Punk Planet 58.

NOTICE OF EMPLOYMENT

If I can share my defeats with you all, I guess I am kind of obliged to pass along the triumphs… I have been hired by Borders. I am employee 406 at store 497. This is in Chino, a city known for its men’s prison, Snoop Dogg’s Little League team, and an overpowering agricultural stench. These days Chino is also known for the mall that houses my employers, one of those places that looks like it was built 8-10 minutes ago. I have driven around this complex at night, and it seems to have no end.

As minimum wage, retail jobs go, it could be worse. By my second week I didn’t want to punch anyone in the face anymore. I have no complaints with my coworkers. But it’s not a place for people who like books. My first shift spilled into the midnight release of the fifth Harry Potter hardback, and by 2AM I found myself face to face with misty eyed 40-year olds in Dr. Who scarves. This was a priceless, unrepeatable experience, so obviously the climax of my employment that I should have quit at the end of the night.

Although being a cashier has its hidden rewards. For every petty humiliation, there is a vignette of hope: the kid who told me “you guys have a bitchin’ D&D section”; the angry Russian in sunglasses who actually said “we are buyink [sic] somewhere else”; the balding black guy who came up to me with an English-Korean dictionary, chuckling, saying “we have a language e-mergency.” And I can’t say I haven’t learned anything at this job. I never would have known that Rodney King will be cutting a rap album if a customer hadn’t told me.

Here’s the thing; Punk Planet is carried in this store. Although I’ve never actually sold a copy (I did ring up one Maximumrocknroll - to Bill T., of Pillsbury Hardcore - and was stymied by its lack of a barcode), this magazine always winds up floating to the front of the music periodicals, able to hold its own against Source and Vibe, no help from me. So what is my journalistic duty in this situation???