the first job i had after college graduation was Sears.
a bunch of my friends had moved to Prague to start and English language newspaper, drink 50 cent beers, play guitar on the Charles Bridge, and make out with european tourists
and i was at the La Cumbre Plaza in Santa Barbara getting scolded for not selling enough extended warrantees on console Zenith tvs and cheap-ass no-name vcrs
they were wearing tshirts and flannels, playing pool and getting interviewed by CNN and i was wearing dress shirts and ties making so much money by noon that i would go fishing at Goleta Pier on my lunch breaks and calling in to my boss to see if i could take the rest of the day off.
commission sales had been something i excelled at in junior college, post-college at Sears was even easier, but dull and depressing. i found myself yelling at customers who said they were gonna go to the nearby Circuit City to see how our prices compared to theirs. i told them what the price was and i told them if they didnt trust me on a stupid tv then i didnt want their business, that they shouldnt come back once they learned that i wasn’t bullshitting them.
they came back and i only got angrier. my boss, who wasn’t a bad guy at all, suggested i take a vacation because even though i was tops in our department, it was obvious i was going crazy. “you fish ALL the time!”
and i dont catch nothing. thats why i love it.
i didnt mind working at Sears because i knew there was no future there. i didnt want my boss’s job. i didnt wanna run the store. back then i had the most creative imagination and yet i had zero ideas of how to get people into Sears. the only thing we had going for us back then was the Sears card and people’s memories of how things *used* to be.
and yet i saw people get busted for stealing every week. the best was this dude in a wheelchair. he had a blanket over his lap and sunglasses. and he went to one of our rows that had shitty cassette players, like Walkmans. except they werent by Sony. Fakemans we called them. fucker grabbed a bunch, tucked them under his blanket and rolled down to hardware.
as soon as he grabbed enough he scooted out to the parking lot, our security guy ran down from whereever, grabbed him and rolled him back into the store.
that weird, sad moment at the santa barbara sears was my favorite moment.
that, and the advice i got from my boss one day when he came in looking a little worn out from drinking the night before.
tony, heres the thing about hangovers: the longer the day goes, the better you feel.
nothing else is like that.
i disagreed but i liked his optimism.
he ended up canning me and my next job was working for Magnavox training salespeople, and his store was the first one i visited.