One of the premier aspects of any job was tormenting coworkers. When I rebuilt pianos, there was only John and myself, we couldn't annoy each other too much, that would lead to knives or shooting irons. The symphony was a pressurized boiler room, cold calling, trying to hit that commission break point before you were released. Prissy was my counterpart and she needled me endlessly.
"You just make a sale, Sweetie? Buy me lunch." or "Let's celebrate. Sneak into the next room and get busy." or "Why don't you leave Zelda? You'll be too weak to walk after I'm done with you."
Prissy was never going to stray from her husband. She just liked flirting and teasing the cranky white guy. Mess up his focus while he was trying to persuade Doctor Pompous a $1000 donation would not only enhance his community prestige, but would, by implication, attract more wealthy patients and fewer Medicaid types.
I never got even with Prissy. No one else in the room interested her, but she had my number cold. That was life, I imagine.
At Sound Warehouse, however, sadistic opportunities abounded.
Danny hung a monster sized Hendrix poster in the Backroom. Todd or Rob repeatedly stuck giant red, rubber lips over Jimi's mouth, simply to annoy Danny.
Coffee addicts, Anne, James, Dan, The Boss, constantly mislaid their mugs and wasted time in futile searches. Mugs weren't mislaid, thoughtful coworkers hid them. Cups shuffled from the Manager's Booth, to the Office, to the Backroom, only to surface in plain sight in Cassettes.
Uneaten food was fair game for maids and buzzards. Diana would often throw refrigerated leftovers away, arguing she had saved an imbecile from food poisoning. Chips, cookies, bag of M&M's, were relocated from the Booth to the Register or trash can. Or they were perceived as unwanted. And free! No safe hiding place existed for fresh snacks. Two of the guys had bloodhound DNA.
João got angry at Dan for some triviality, drew a cow face and marked it - This Is Dan. Within a shift, Dan penciled hair on top of the bovine and retitled the sketch - This Is João. The cartoon war escalated. The Booth was littered with offensive doodles, human - livestock encounters, and quasi pornographic caricatures, until someone had enough and the cartoon war simply disappeared.
One morning, Pat asked Rob about some video. Cats, cartoon cats. Was it funny? Absolutely. John overheard the exchange and hurried off before he burst out laughing. So Pat popped in the videotape of Fritz The Cat.
Several weeks earlier, Greg had failed to alert her when she strolled past with Flash Gordon. Classic serial. Except it was Flesh Gordon.
Whistling Jim was a favorite target because his reactions were fairly predictable.
Half the music inventory was D-Chart. Back catalog, music no longer stocked at the DC, but which still sold reasonably well at 6393. Maybe 4-6 turns yearly. These albums had to be inventoried manually. 90% of the crew performed inventory. Saturday was A-Chart and NR during the morning, B-Chart or C-Chart in the afternoon. D-Chart was as needed, which was constantly. Every label had their own black binder for back stock. WEA, Capitol, Poly, Sony, Big State, House, etc ... Inside were crammed the white pages for every album carried at our store.
Everyone inventoried, but James oversaw D-Chart. What was stocked, quantity, what was dropped. Key pages would frequently disappear, however. Perhaps an entire section, say a folk section. No telling how that happened. It was magic! Bad magic.
James would tear the store apart, hunting for those damn pages. The whistling would cease, and he'd begin humming. Loudly. He'd spill out his desk drawers completely, wondering where mischievous Gremlins stashed those papers. Continual coffee transfusions only worsened his agitation. Coworkers would sneak glances, then scurry off to laugh.
One assumed he suspected a colleague pranked him. If this was done elsewhere - - Trina's Boutique stuff, Rob's Accessories, Todd's Video, my Classical, there'd be a sharp, "Alright, fucker, where are they?" Not James, however.
The anxiety, the caffeine, the frustration, the intensifying rage ... those demons ... James did what he always did.
Sauntered past the front doors for a cigarette.
Whistled to the gods, dreamed of gardening, thought of the beach.
While he recouped outside, pages would be reinserted, not in folk, but funk. Where James would eventually find them. And blame himself, or those incompetent new hires. Or he'd study a few of his male compadres.
And wonder ...