... I love my job.
I do. I love the fact that my job allows me to be a part of the community. I go to a store or to a movie and I get recognized as "Mr. Steve" the storytime guy. I love the fact that for two+ hours a week I get to hang out and read stories and ad lib and basically do all ages stand up comedy for groups of 15 to 35 kids, not to mention their parents who are usually laughing more than the kids. I love the fact that I'm so much of a local semi celebrity that the Arden mall has me do storytimes in the center of the mall once a year, on a stage, with a mic, in front of 100-250 kids, all loving me and laughing with me. I love the fact that I run a Harry Potter club that, with absolutely NO help from management or corporate or even the book's publishers, manages to attract 20 to 30 kids a month, all on account of my manic creativity. I love the leeway I get from management. When the new community relations person was hired she was specifically told not to fuck with me, which shows the sort of semi weight I pull.
I love my job.
With that being said, how many times must my life get threatened while I'm at work? Huh? And how sad is it that I even have to ask that?
Let me paint the story for you, life threatening number three for me in my four years working at this localtion ... after drinking 30+ ounces of coffee within a seven hour period, which is standard fare for myself, and after doing the work of two and a half employees due to bad scheduling, which again is standard fare, I decide to go to the bathroom. As I enter the bathroom, I catch a glimpse of a skinny young black guy with a white shirt hanging from the back of his jean shorts .. and he's washing his body in the sink.
This alone does not frighten me. I work in a neighborhood that reminds me of the cultural economics of downtown Phoenix where you have the Bank One Ballpark, the America West Arena, all these high class corporate behemoths ... and two blocks away, one of the biggest homeless shanties you've ever seen. My store is right next to a mall that serves wine in its food court and has valet parking ... and yet, right behind the Toys r' Us you'll see ten homeless guys sleeping on the floor drinking a 40 oz. and smoking pot openly right there out in the open.
So, needless to say, I've had my share of crazy homeless guys bathing in our bathroom. So that did not frighten me. I was a bit concerned that he was talking quietly to himself. But he looked really young and almost attractive and I thought he was going to be cool. I went and peed and he kept washing. Once I flushed and started walking to the sink to wash my hands, he did this little sprint into the bathroom stall, locked the door, and stopped talking to himself. Whatever, I thought. I washed my hands.
Right before I finished this guy KICKS the stall open, gets in my face, and starts cussing me out in an intensely frightening scene that in retrospect reminded me of when Vincent Schiavelli, the subway ghost that's teaching Patrick Swayze how to move stuff, snaps and starts yelling at him out of nowhere.
"What's your fuckin' problem, dog, huh? You fucking asshole, you fucking pussy, I'm gonna cut you you don't get off my back? Huh? Why you following me, huh? Imma fucking kill you, you fucking shithead, you fucking get of my back, huh? Why you following me?"
As calm as I can, I tell him I've never seen him before and I just came in here to pee. So he throws the door open even more and starts coming at me slowly, continuing his cussing at me for apparently "following" him, which is impossible. I mean, how can I follow him when I'm covering customer service and restocking the teen table and shelving books from other people's sections and answering phones and doing everything BUT work in my own department? So I walk out, still hearing the guy cussing me out at the top of his lungs as the door closed.
I tell my store manager, trying my hardest NOT to mention his ethnicity and DEFINITELY not saying the "N" word. She calls security and they escort him out. The security head, a hard old man with tattoos on his arms and a mobile home that he keeps parked in the store parking lot, comes back after they've chased him out so that he can talk to me. I go over the events with him and he tells me that my life threatener is a skitzo homeless guy that takes up box somewhere across the street. He explains how I did the right thing, then frightens me by telling me what we can do to take him down WHEN he comes back and threatens me AGAIN.
That was, sadly, not the first time I've been threatened at work.
Time number two happened the summer of oh-4our. Every day at 9:15 am for two weeks, this short but built and eye squinty and angry looking twentysomething guy, and when you picture him think of a mexican Taz circa ECW ...
... this guy would walk through the kids section dressed in a blue shirt and a tie and carrying a huge, and I mean comically HU-U-U-UGE duffle bag EVERY DAY like clockwork at 9:15 am. Strange as fuck. You could set your goddamn watch to mexican Taz, I swear to Wood!
Well, not trusting when older lonesome men walk through the children's department for seemingly no reason, I would always be at my desk doing work and every day like clockwork he would walk through kids and I would look at him, wondering what was up.
Then one day, as he walked past, he stopped. He threw his comically huge bad down and, like I was "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and he was the fucking Rock, like I was Cena and he was Triple H, like I was Hogan and he was the fucking Ultimate Warrior, he storms up to me, goes toe to toe, nose to nose, and starts cussing me out.
"What the fuck, huh, why you looking at me, huh, you fucking pussy, why you fucking looking me, huh, you wanna get your ass kicked, huh, you want me to fucking kill your ass, huh, why you looking at me?"
I wait a hard six seconds, probably way too long for someone who'se getting threatened, and I calm as hell say "I work here. This is my department. I help people who come in here. It's my job. I'm sorry if you think ..." and he gets a handfull of shelf and just throws all the books down, gives me the finger, picks up his bag, and tells me he'll be waiting in the parking lot for me.
That was time number two.
The first time, which was about a year after I moved here, was completely my fault. Alone and drunk and despondent, I got into an on again/off again/on again/off again/on again/off again/on again/off again/on again/off again relation with a married woman. That was me wanting someone to be with and her wanting anyone other that her husband.
It ended the fifth time, after a lot of broken promises and attempts to solve everything just to eventually end up with my heart broken repeatedly, with the angry husband bicycling, yes, I said BICYCLING to my work, calling me out in the middle of the street, throwing his bicycle down hard, threatening my life, wanting to fight with me right then and there. And although she treated me like shit, I've never been so greatful for a six foot, eight inch tall bulky, angry, pissed off female receiving manager, one that had my back and seemed to care about me, if only once.
That was all me. Well, mostly me. That was pretty much mostly my bad. I shouldn't have gotten in the relationship in the first place and I shouldn't have listened to the husband who repeatedly promised that he would leave us both alone and I shouldn't have listened to the woman who repeatedly told me she was comitted to me just to leave me for her.
The first time I was threatened at work, that was personal. But, the point is, I shouldn't even HAVE to say the words "The first time I was threatened at work ..." because that's the single most pathetic sentance I've ever typed here and it says a LOT about my work.
I love my job.
I really do.
I love the people I serve and the kids I entertain and the people I work with and my awesome, positive, attractive store manager and all the regulars that come in that I know and can talk with and all the people that work with me that I can joke with and joke about and make fun of, people that actually understand my crazy, manic, and incredibly offensive sense of humor. Hell, I was all set to move to Arizona and the main thing that made me change my mind was the faces I see every day, the friends and the crushes and the love I feel from that damn store.
But how many times must my life be threatened at work until I wise up and leave the store for a job that will appreciate me and pay me something higher than shit?
I don't know.
However, to end this post on a positive note, the Albertsons has restocked their Labatt pints. And, since I took the sign that said they were $0.99 and those lazy asses haven't made a new sign, I'm pretty much going to be the only person buying their entire stock of cheap ass canadian beer. I rock big fat monkey balls.