During the last weeks of Sound Warehouse, I was in the Booth, working up a Classical order when this girl approached me. Typical Texas blonde, reminded me of Stephanie or Carey.
"Are ya'll hiring?"
I didn't hire, and The Boss was across the way in Cassettes. I could weed applicants quickly, however.
"What do you listen to?" I asked.
"I listen to all kinds of music," she replied.
"Does that include Rap, Jazz, Classical, Techno?" I challenged.
"Ha ha," she laughed, "no, I listen to Rock, but mostly Country."
"Country?" She had my full attention.
"Yeah. Most of my car presets are kinda/sorta on country stations. New stuff and oldies."
"You walk over to that man," I pointed out The Boss. "You tell him you just spoke with me, you're looking for work, and ya'll listen to Country."
The Boss spoke with her for less than five minutes. Kristi was hired on the spot. In our store, she was the final Sound Warehouse hire.
After I returned from a trip, the store was bisected with black plastic. Demolition in the back was total. Backroom, Office, Money Room, Stash Room, bathrooms, all rubble. Many coworkers were stressed. The usual suspects, and most of the females. Whereas Stacey was indifferent, Pat, Trina and Missy vented on new girls Kristi and Mandy.
This was beyond the usual territory cattiness. Sound Warehouse reeked of music snobbery, of which I was equally culpable. If you weren't knowledgeable you were shoved out the door. Kristi went to clubs ... Billy Bob's and country bars. Newer girl, Mandy, the first official Blockbuster hire, didn't club at all. In fact, Mandy knew shit about music. Her minuscule music quotient came from her boyfriend, and his was FM based knowledge. Six months behind the curve.
The new girls weren't "cool" enough. Maneuverings and politics began. I immediately countered arguments and checked comments. Kristi and Mandy were accused of being too straight, ignorant of cutting edge, and wearing lame clothes. The latter was my favorite reason they were uncool since every employee now wore Blockbuster's blue and khaki attire. Whatever. The Bobsey Twins worked like freight trains. I loved these girls, and insisted they work Truck Day. I'd failed with Angela, but I was determined to shield this pair.
"What do you think about this guy?" The Boss thrust a filled application form into my hands.
I scanned it briefly. Looked to be written by a convict, using with his fingers.
"For the Classical Room?" I asked.
"I could continue running the Back Room and Classical like before."
"That'd work for me. Unfortunately, Blockbuster wants someone in that room constantly during business hours. I need you running inventory."
"Alright," I sighed. "I know this guy. He is an expert on Classical music. Knows more than I do, plus the two Classical Mikes combined."
"Personality. Will he fit in? Over the years he's applied about five times, and five times I gave the job to someone else."
"He will never fit in. If this was Sound Warehouse, employees would carve him up. Slowly. In his swank Mozart room he should be isolated, though being in there may lend the impression "special." That room, in my opinion, smacks of elitism."
"My friend, that's not our call. Will he get along?" The Boss focused on answers.
I shrugged. "He will annoy everyone, but he will work hard and he'll try to get along."
"Good enough. On your recommendation, I'm hiring him as Classical manager."
There. Guilty. I'm the one. Any colleague or customer who would ever have difficulties with The Professor could look at me, shake their head, and say, "Thanks, idiot."
Worse, that night I had to inform Zelda I was no longer section chief. She was crushed. For five years, anytime someone asked what I did for a living I answered, "I'm in the music industry." If Zelda was within earshot, she'd immediately bolt over, grab my arm and add, "He's head of Classical," unweaving the fabrication.
Since Kristi was Sound Warehouse, she dodged the mandatory drug test. Mandy, The Professor and Mikey passed easily, lowering in-house esteem even further.
Mikey on the other hand ...
Mikey's head was shaved.
He provided hair samples, nevertheless.
Everyone took note.