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Monday, February 6, 2006

The Problem is that She Cares ...

... I am a man who, at nearly 29 years old, thrives on repetitiveness. This shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who knows me really well. I take comfort in the same old routine. For me, repetition is bliss. Hell, I can tell you exactly how many "Forrest Gump" soundtracks it takes to drive from San Francisco to Phoenix, Arizona. Tom Wegner and I would listen to the exact same song over and over again on road trips. It would have driven anyone else batshit crazy to listen to just "Alabama Song" by The Doors on a road trip from Phoenix to Disneyland. But that's just how I am.

So I honestly mean it when I say that moving to Phoenix is going to be the single hardest thing I've ever done in my life.


I lived in Arizona for about 25 years, pretty much the first quarter of my life. That's a long time. I never thought I'd move. I expected to find a woman and settle down and maybe even get married and eventually just shrivel up in the Arizona sun. That's what I thought my life would be. But my girlfriend's parents moved back in to the place that was supposed to be ours once they left. They moved back in and automatically wanted us out. Us, they said, but mainly just me. So I moved to Sacramento with my parents with false ideas of getting a place ready so that my girlfriend could come down and live in Sac with me. That didn't turn out so well.

A year of drinking later I found Natasha. She had a daughter, a one year old named Emerald. I was still in this drink all night and work all day mentality and I liked being drunk and free, me with my cigarette and my leather jacket smoking in the dark starry smog-infested night sky of California. I liked that idea of myself. I was frightened about being with someone with a kid.

That all changed when I met Emerald. She had just turned one year old. She couldn't talk. She just grunted and squealed. She still sucked on a pacifier. And she had a smile that I instantly fell in love with. I fell in love with her at first sight, even harder than I fell for Natasha, to tell the truth. Once I saw her, I knew that I wanted to be a father. I never wanted to be one before, never even came close to thinking children with anyone I was with before, but now that was all that I thought about. Suddenly and without warning I wanted to be a father. And I became one in Sacramento.

Now, sometime as I was becoming a daddy, my parents had another one of their trademark changes of character and out of nowhere moved their brown asses back to Arizona. And now here I am with two daughters and a wife and a home and a really happy life. But it's expensive as all fuck to stay living here. In a little over four years I turned Sacramento into my home and I'm going to have the hardest time trying to leave that behind, even for Arizona.

Small side note for longtime readers - if I hadn't had SMOKE BLOWN UP MY ASS about the promotion, then I would probably still be living in California past this summer. Just a thought.

Now, it's not exactly set in stone that I'm leaving. I don't know that yet. There are a lot of deciding factors that come into play when it comes to my family deciding if we should move to Arizona or not. Most of those deciding factors have to do with my work at the bookstore. I am the manager in charge of the children's department and I am damn f-ing good at it. My store was in the hole all of fiscal year 2005 and it was my section, even pre-Harry Potter release, that carried the damn store. I am extremely good at what I do and what I do is sell kids books and do storytimes and lead kids clubs and make money. I honestly love what I do, as opposed to those people that you usually see working at a bookstore that you know is just doing this until they find something else. That's not me. I do what I do because I have a genuine love for it. I am an asset.

I don't want to leave Sacramento but it's my dream to move back to Arizona but if we move, knowing myself, I'll probably kick and scream the entire way there like a cat being forced to take a bath. And one of the main deal breakers with this move is my work. I don't want to give up my $10.50 an hour and I don't want to be demoted to customer service or working behind a fucking register. I want to be a lead. I want my own department. And I want to work in kids. If I can get all (or most) of those demands, then in a few months I am fucking gone from here.

Well, the other day I officially started down the road towards transferring. It was tough. It was hard. And I was devastated. I also devastated somebody else, which only made it harder for me.

I've had four store managers in my 5+ years with the company. They were all good in their own right. But before now none of them really honestly gave a shit beyond work. When I transferred from my Metrocenter store in Phoenix to the Arden store in Sac, my store manager wasn't upset. He was a pretty hardcore cynical flamer. He didn't get choked up. He just laughed it off and said that I'd be back. He didn't give a shit at all if I stayed or left and that hurt. Then the two store managers that I had in Sacramento were clones - fat thirtysomething white chicks who don't get too many dates and who may or may not be heavily into cats. The last one would chastise me for my relationship with Natasha, taking us into the office to berate us and change our schedules so that we wouldn't work together. Sexual harassment, she would say, and then turn around and write pathetic love letters to one of the managers. She would get at ME for having a relationship with my WIFE but then SHE would force the manager that she had a CRUSH on to work alongside her so that she could hit on him.

Can you believe that? What type of bullshit is that, huh? I almost quit over all that. My wife almost did and decided instead to transfer to another, smaller, sexual harassment-less, store.

The store manager we have now has been with us for about eight months or so. She is amazing. She is great. She's funny, silly, smart, attractive and understanding. She is all the things that make up a boss who is so damn good that she makes it very hard to leave. What's worse of all, she actually cares. That has to be her one problem, she actually cares about her employees in a way that I've never had before. Work has never been this comfortable.

Which made breaking the news to her even more difficult.

I saw her at work. She was typing in the office. I smile and wave, pretending that I can't hear her over the iPod. But that's just a cover to the fact that I don't want to tell her. I tried talking to Lance but he said I had to go through her. But I don't want to go through her because I like her and I don't want to have to look into her eyes and tell her I might be leaving. So I panicked. Maybe later. Now's not the right time. I'll wait. I played that game for about an hour until finally she walked into kids to drop off the daily schedule and as she turned around and started to walk away I just blurted it out like a sped with tourette's syndrome "I MIGHT BE MOVING." It would have been easier if she was flaming gay and unprofessional like my first manager and it would have been different if she was just another overweight white chick clone. But no. She cares and that made it a million times worse.

But there it was. I said it. I said it like I was retarded, mind you, but there it was hanging in the air like a word on the Electric Company. It just hung frozen in the air like slo-mo on The Matrix. I was shaking. I was so nervous and upset over it that I had to use my inhaler afterwards. But I said it. It was out there. She turned around, in what now seemed to be in slow motion, and we talked stuff over. I tried not to cry as I told her that my family may be moving back to Arizona ... and I may be mistaken but I believe that SHE was trying not to cry as well. Which just made it worse. She was upset. She was REALLY upset. Hell, if I knew her better I would have asked for a hug but I decided not to go there with her.

But she had the saddest eyes. They were the eyes of a puppy that just got yelled at for no reason. I'll always remember those eyes of hers when I finally broke the news to her. They were sad and deep the way an ocean can be.

I later learned from Lance that she was incredibly devastated that I was leaving but that despite her being so upset, she'd support whatever my decision was completely. So there you go. She e-mailed the district manager, who was said to also be extremely disappointed, with my transfer request and now he's bargaining with the stores in Chandler and Mesa and Tempe and Scottsdale.

I have started walking down that road, a road that somehow always seems to lead me back to Arizona. But its not official just yet. Now I have to just wait and see what the verdict is going to be, if I stay or if I leave.


Gregorio said...

im sorry dude.... i hope you dont have to move back, AZ's a drag.

Future Ex-Mrs. Lobo said...

I wish there was a way for you guys to stay. Could I entice you with more beer? Beer...Steeeeve, I have beer...oh, and strawberry wine for Natasha. Hear THAT Natasha? I said strawberry wine!

Natasha said...

You think I'm THAT cheap Gwen? Strawberry wine? Come now, you would have to have at LEAST a case!

Sorceress Jade said...

Your puppy comment almost made me cry.

Couldn't you perhaps consider living somewhere other than Arizona? Somewhere new? That can't possibly be the least expensive placce to live. I know you love routine and all but, maybe that would make it easier on you?

Reverend Steve said...

I had to re-read this thing like twice to figure out what was "the puppy thing"

almost ex-mrs. lobo said...

Yes, Natasha I think you're just that cheap. I'M KIDDING! DON'T HURT ME!