Thursday, April 6, 2006

Coworkers: Part 81 - Brown Jar Delivery

   Skip cruised in at noon. Wore his usual yellow plaid shirt and striped Bermuda shorts. Not Blockbuster's mandated blue and khaki. The Boss was off, so there would be no, "When are you buying regulation apparel, Skippy?" followed by, "I'm going to. Swear to God. Any day now."
   Skip had other priorities.
   Joe rolled in five minutes later. "Hey, Worth. Skip-Dogg in?"
   "Yes." I anticipated his next question. "He's wearing faded plaid and those short shorts."
   "That sucks balls." Joe scanned emails quickly. "Think we'll get inspected today?"
   "Mmm ... no. DM will be point for our booth at the baseball park."
   "Righteous." Joe immediately untucked the blue shirt and walked to the back.
   Skip was an affable man. Cheery, friendly, full of good humor, and full of substances. He was unaware of his probated status, which currently stood at two strikes. Skip was Sharon's neighbor, she had recommended him, though she confessed she didn't know him well. Within two weeks we realized he had a serious drinking problem.
   Most employees were tolerant. We'd all been late or missing because of drugs, booze, sex, looking for clothes, being without a car in a strange neighborhood, or a combination thereof. The Boss was less forgiving. Over the years, the aging hippie had become cynical. I'm certain he still believed the world could be made better ... but not with the current inhabitants. He now ruthlessly applied the old Sound Warehouse rule: Has alcohol use or substance use ever interfered with your employment performance? When attendance or performance became irregular, The Boss cut people swiftly.
   Skip was a classic, free fall fuck-up. Missing time ... and missing money.
   A week earlier, his cash register had been $10.00 short at the end of his shift. Not 7¢ or $1.43 or $14.06. Ten Dollars Even. When confronted he shrugged, apologized, confessed he didn't know. An hour later, he offered a fresh explanation. Sharon had cracked his register and pocketed a bill. Sharon, the neighbor who found him the job, had jacked him.
   This is hardly the forum to repeat Sharon's reaction. Suffice to say, Sharon's temper, and stamina, were remarkable.

   Stacey came in after 2:00. I waited for Skip so I could lunch.
   "Skippy-Doo wearing his usual?" she asked.
   "Hot pants, honey."
   "Thanks for the image," she laughed. "If the Boss is letting Skipster slide, I'm not going to be dress code enforcer. Where's Skip's head today?"
   "Cuckoo Land. Already tried to borrow $10.00 from me, then tried Joe. Looks like he's now trying Mandy."
   "Moron. He must be desperate. Mandy never brings her purse inside. She never contributes to birthday cards, cakes, bereavements, or goodbyes"
   "She's her mother," I said briefly.
   "I'm phoning Shelley to come in half hour early. I'm pulling Skip off register at 5:30, and having Joe count his drawer. You'll be here?"
   "I'll stick around."
   The trap was set. It wasn't just alcohol with Skip. He was addicted to painkillers. The Blockbuster drug test was a joke.

   Shelley manned register, Stacey watched Listening Bar. I stood behind Joe, while Skip explained how his register was $50.00 short.
   "I know what happened," he said. "But I don't think you're going to like it."
   "Try me,"
Joe replied.
   "I had to go outside for a second. Stacey watched my register. She stole the money."
   I didn't even bother to roll my eyes.
   "You're right," Joe spoke, "I don't like it."
   "I mean, I don't know what else -- "
   "Was this after you made all those phone calls?"
   "I don't know what -- "
   "She watched front register while you went outside and two business associates sold you a brown jar of Vicoden pills?"

   Druggies ... so little discretion.
   "Phone tomorrow, Skip," I offered. "Plead your case to The Boss."
   Skip went home. Never phoned, never returned.

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