After several months I simply flat out asked Dan, "Seems like an incredible amount of employee turnover here."
"Oh," Dan reflected, "we usually lose someone about every six months. Every four or five years, however, it seems like a chunk of the crew turns over. One wave departs and a fresh batch arrives."
That sounded reasonable. I'd witnessed a high proportion of senior employees check out in the past few months. One of the Todds moved to Alaska, Danny transferred to Hurst, Carey became a stewardess, Charles got a banking job, Lisa slipped away. I'd come in with Jeri to replace Classical Mike #2. We'd hired on with Trina, David, Angela (who had already left), Pepe, and Pat.
Dan was accurate. It was like a cosmic realignment had reshuffled the colony.
Another senior person had given notice. Video Mike.
While Angela and I had been very close, Mike and I barely spoke. I couldn't relate with the guy. Classic headbanger, looked like a audition player for Deep Purple. Long black hair, mustache. Transfixed with metal. Classic metal. The 70's never ended. I hoped he possessed more than one dimension, but I lost interest in him. Call me shallow. My loss.
Video Mike gave notice and James or Dan or somebody collected "going away" money.
Most departees bought tunes or videos. Cleaned out their stash, used their employee discount a final time with their modest farewell windfall.
Mike raced his car to Fantasy Ranch, modern version of the sportin' house. Part strip club, part theme park. An interactive West World. Silicone babe attendants. Fantasy Ranch was not a spectator establishment, participation was the main event. For a wallet emptying fee, gents selected from Amazon Warrior Planet, Jungles Of Zanzibar, Lab Experiment, and the very popular Wild West Saloon. Depending on one's imagination, you could envision the elaborate settings, and haze your mind with those words "interactive" and "participation."
For a half hour.
Mike knew precisely what he wanted. Metal boy fantasy.
The dark stone room. Shackles and chains.
Mike was stripped to skivvies. Wrists manacled high overhead, far apart.
From concealed speakers, doom metal groaned.
Two inquisitors entered. Wearing only masks. Questions, impossible questions, followed by punishment.
He worked the next day, his final shift. Aching sore and gushing gratitude. Thanked everyone. Fantasy Ranch had been one of the greatest experiences of his life. Now, and only now, he flicked my radar. How many more yarns might I have written about this guy? Too late. My loss.
After Mike's departure, the store still collected funds for exiting select employees now and then. This was never consistent, an aspect of popularity contest tainted the process.
Still, after Video Mike, lucky recipients were handed gift certificates. No one received cash again.