Where Bitter Begins

If you wonder why the Guv’ner – in real life a fun-loving, silly sort – is a cynical, bitter shell of a human being in journal form, this earlier glimpse into my early job history should clue you in on what got the ball rolling. It basically comes down to this: People are asses, the Guv’ner is God.

After college and before my days wiping the asses of the rich and corporate, I did a stint working in a greetings card store. It wasn’t a planned vocation, it just sort of happened. I had just returned from traveling nomadically in Europe (20 countries in four months – 21 if you count the UK, which really, who does?) and needed to find a fast way to make the rent while looking for a “real” job.

Anyway, I was walking past the store in question and they had a badly spelled sign in the window that announced that they were seeking “candydates” for a store assistant. “Really?” I thought. “That sounds like a hellova good time since I like candy and I like dates and…”

Well anyway. I had rent to pay and no job so I went inside to inquire about application forms and such and they decided to go ahead and interview me on the spot as either they were “desperate” or I was just a fine specimen of humanity they couldn’t allow to slip through the net of top notch “candydates”.

Actually, it must have been desperation since there were no knees in my jeans and I hadn’t washed my hair in about a week although I was hosting a quite spectacular (for me) European tan. So my sun addled brain obviously got confused and I accepted this job paying 3.25 UK pounds an hour (bear in mind this was the mid-nineties, not the stone ages so even then this was slave labor). Even the kids in the Virgin store down the road made at least two pounds an hour more than me, I later learned.

I’m digressing…

So I got this job. At the greetings card store, working for a boss about four years younger than myself, although seriously, she might have looked twenty, but I will swear that goddamn woman was born forty-five years old and mean. She thought she was hot shit. She was married to some sucker who’d lost most of his faculties (clearly) and who was pussy whipped to such a miraculous degree that it was amazing he had the fortitude to leave the house unassisted. She talked about him all day long. Good and bad. I never met the guy but honestly, I plotted his demise the entire time she worked there.

We also had a district manager who was based 40 miles away and came to the store twice a week to check we’d restocked and had the latest deliveries and to chastise us for just about everything. Quite frankly, her main reason for gracing us with her evil presence was to criticize everything we did, anywhere, ever. She was little, blonde, mean, bitchy and would stab you in the back as soon as look at you. Probably literally too. I always hid the scissors just in case.

She baffled me totally because she was pure, unharnassed evil yet she had this live-in boyfriend who would come in to the store sometimes to see her and he was the polar opposite of her in every way. He was a huge, six feet two black guy, built like a brick shit house and the sweetest guy you will ever meet. What he saw in a tiny, frizzy blonde, dwarf witch totally escaped me. Later she let him impregnate her with Satan’s spawn and then kicked him out.

The owner of the store and its four sister stores she “district managed”, was a sleazy, obnoxious, money-grabbing little prick who looked uncannily like a younger Tony Blair if Tony Blair bathed in canola oil, wore pistachio colored suits and talked out of his nose (as opposed to out of his ass). Every now and then he’d show up and complain loudly about everything in a pompous manner that just said to me, “Someone key the sides of my car immediately!”

After a few months, the annoying harpy and her pussy husband got pregnant and she quit. My fellow slave laborer and I debated opening all the tins of silly string in the store in celebration and decorating the place with all the candy colored rubber.

The downside to all this? They made me manager.

Most people with an ounce of sense would realize that making me manager would be an idea as stupendously moronic as having a cat baby-sit a school full of mice. The only thing I liked about the job was bullshitting with customers and playing pranks and making fun of management, for Christ’s sake. I didn’t want to be responsible for cashing up at the end of the night, working holidays, carrying large sums of money to the bank and working long hours and other annoying tasks for zero money or reward. I didn’t want to deal with Miss District Manager (‘Bitch-trick manager’ we called her) and Mr. Oilypants or the older lady who worked part time and had halitosis so bad it was like a garlic-eating dragon was breathing on you.

I ended up spending two years in that job (I call it my “lost period”) hating everyone and everything. I hated the whiny customers, I hated the senior management, I hated the photocopier that never worked, I hated the cards and the paper cuts they gave me, I hated the schmaltzy cards with their saccharine verse, I hated the goddamn, nasty pop tapes we had to play of session artists covering real artists songs, I hated the stupid card reps, I hated the counting and recounting of the money every night, I hated the fact our basement was part of a system of underground caves that the whole city was built on, that smelled as damp as a whore’s drawers and I hated that we kept all our stock down there, and that these caves, completely unknown to city inspectors, who frown quite heavily on such things, were full of giant, not-at-all-afraid rats.

Most of all I hated myself for putting up with it all.

Shortly after I left that job, filled with the joy of knowing I was never going back, I did find out that city inspectors are quite happy to act upon such information should that information happen to cross their paths.

So, really I did learn one valuable thing from that job. Revenge is indeed “sweet”.

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13 Responses to “Where Bitter Begins”

  1. Leonesse Says:

    I, too, worked in a card store. The manager was the nicest lady ever and she worked for the nitpickiest Napoleon bastard who ever lived. She would end up in tears alot, mostly for doing exactly what he told her to do but not liking it and making her redo it. Bastard. She finally had to quit. I hope he gets to replay those scenes in his head over and over with sappy-assed music playing loudly throughout eternity in his Greeting Card Hell.

  2. Leonesse Says:

    I take that back. He is the second nitpikiest bastard who ever lived. See a future posting regarding the Number One Napoleon Bastard Who Ever Lived.*

    *that I know personally, that is.

  3. pistols at dawn Says:

    I remember your “lost period” as a really frightening month for us, and I didn’t want to let you use my silly string anymore.

    Thank you for once again making me feel better about my crappy, demeaning series of jobs by allowing me to pretend that my employment history is unlike yours.

  4. The Guv'ner Says:

    Leonesse: It must be a card thing. Honestly, you must have to be a douche to own a card store. Plus what sort of MAN invests in sappy verses and floral tributes? One who has issues with women that’s who. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I just don’t get why some people need to exert their tiny power over meek people who do little to warrant it. Maybe his penis was an inch long and he was compensating? I look forward to the future post. 🙂

  5. The Guv'ner Says:

    Pistols: Know that I only used that whip if you really couldn’t get to the top of that ladder fast enough. It was “character building”. I’m sure the scars will always be reminder of this.

    Also? WTF?

  6. The Idea Of Progress Says:

    This of yourself as a member of the Lost Generation whilst in your Lost Period. That makes it sound worthwhile.

  7. The Guv'ner Says:

    Mostly I like to NOT THINK ABOUT THAT PERIOD AT ALL.

    It was that one job everyone has in their life that they look back on and think “WHY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DID I EVER THINK THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA?”

    Then I remember the free chocolate items (bunnies, cards and yes, chocolate penises) and how we’d eat the broken ones. I ate a lot of penises those years. Of the chocolate variety at least.

    I know what you’re thinking: “What sort of respectable card store with many elderly patrons sells chocolate penises (there was chocolate boobs too, we didn’t discriminate!)?” I can tell you cheerfully, we did. If it made money it got sold.

  8. pistols at dawn Says:

    WTF about what? Some people can’t take a good pregnancy joke.

  9. Bert Bananas Says:

    No one is ever mean to me twice.

    This is the genius of cowardice!

  10. The Guv'ner Says:

    OOOOOOOOOOH. No you see Mr. Pistols, a GOOD pregnancy joke is one I ACTUALLY GET WITHOUT EXPLANATION.

    Ha.

    /damn, I totally missed that
    /the joke, not the period

  11. The Guv'ner Says:

    Why, I would NEVER be mean to Monsieur Bert Bananes (to give you your French name).

    Well not much.

    Not on purpose.

    Not on a Friday certainly.

  12. T Says:

    Your recollection(s) of past demeaning points in employment are quite entertaining with flattering descriptions of mental pain.

    When I look back to my low-points of job-working (working as a night manager in a South-Central L.A. grocery store, where carrying handcuffs and a night stick was not uncommon), all of my memory strings have my bosses as gigantic horses asses and the store patrons as moronically-minded thieves that lived in caves where the devil used to hand-out rewards for their collective disgusting-ness.

    Ah, I miss the good-ol’ days…

  13. The Guv'ner Says:

    OK, Sir T. YOUR past job sounds like something that would make me hide under the counter. Not that I didn’t consider it in my card job – we had numerous ornery customers who liked to nitpick about everything and make life generally depressing so hiding would have prevented many of the urges to bludgeon people, but it’s the management who really are Satan and I find this to be almost always true no matter where you are – unless it’s your own business, in which case “The Management” are up there with God.

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