Friday, February 1, 2008

Coworkers: Part 42 - Ambushed‏

   "This Backroom is a complete catastrophe!"
   I was processing the DC shipment when Dan walked back with Greta, the newest District Manager. She was conducting a Gotcha Inspection. Greta was DM Numero-4. I had already served under Karn Evil, Karn II (aka: Karn the Bastard), Fran. Each of these types inspected. Karn Evil often popped in monthly. Yet, those first three came in, on appointment or by surprise, when The Boss worked.
   Greta preferred to strike on The Boss's day off.
   Here she was, and she had been giving Dan the third degree.
   Now it was my turn.
   "Why isn't the Backroom organized?"
   "It is organized," I countered. All my life, I advised guys to never argue with women. That afternoon, I was as crafty as an egg sandwich.
   "How? Show me."
   "Stack of A-Chart here, next to that AA-Chart. Then New Release, and New Additions. Then B - C - E. Finally, the label drops. The Accessor -- "
   "And why isn't the floor marked off with tape?"
   Because that was a stupid idea only used by dimwits, I instantly thought. Instead, I made a face.
   "When I was Backroom Manager I always ... "
   There it was, the wisdom of a chronic masking tape wacko. Spare me, please.
   " ... taped the floor so that Inventory stayed within specific boundaries ... "
   Like I told her. We had stack A, stack NR, etc ... Single digit IQ's weren't hired at Camp Bowie. Tape on floor always became tape jamming the pallet jack. Grief.
   " ... so that my guys, and I had a crew of ten -- thank you -- ten very troublesome Backroom guys who needed direction at all times, and if I didn't -- "
Dan broke her rant, "Worthy only has a crew of one, not ten. We don't have that kind of budget, remember. On Truck Day, Rob and Todd -- "
   "I don't see any other help. I don't see any tape!"

   Greta had the mindset of a freight truck.
   "Rob won't clock in until two. In about five minutes, he'll -- "
   "And what about this Todd person? Where is the famous Todd, Rock Star?"
she asked, sarcastic.
   Todd was preoccupied. The band thing was going nuts. Label reps dropped in weekly, there were calls, letters, appearances. The Toadies had no real manager, Todd dealt with everything himself. Sometimes, after a call, he'd say, "I'll be back," then clock out and be away for hours.
   Like today.
   "My God! What is with all those posters?" Greta cried. "Gator Bait?"
   Ours was one of the biggest Backrooms in the District. The long wall had been smothered in posters over the years. Rock groups and exploitation films.
   "Pretty cool, aren't they?" Dan laughed. At least Greta was no longer interrogating me.
   "And these carts!" She began counting. "Do you honest to God need twenty - - I can't believe it - - twenty shopping carts?"
   "Yes. We do," I answered. "Maybe not today, but when Christmas season slams us, every one of those carts will be packed."
   "This store is completely out of control!"
   Drama queen in pissy pants.
   "Hello, fuckers."
   "Excuse me!"
   More screaming.
   Dan stared at the floor, I gazed towards Louisiana. If so much as a chuckle escaped ...
   "Oh, sorry. I was referring to Worthy and T -- "
   "Robert. Could you watch the Floor while I accompany Greta?"
Dan threw him an escape hatch.
   "Straight away." Rob backed out smoothly.
   Greta decried extra CD bin racks, the shrink wrap machine, the wall of Returns and Defectives. Crap that had been sorted there since the Peaches era.
   Greta had missed her calling. Prison warden would have suited her better. Bare walls, shackled inmates.
   Finally, she wheeled and marched out, turned down the hallway toward the Office. I overheard yowls of outrage. The hallway wall was plastered with posters, prints and flats. Most were autographed by musicians, famous and obscure. Years of In-Store events. Greta didn't recognize the chaotic imprint of the music world. Only litter on pristine walls.
   Next stop, the Office, which always looked like a dump truck had capsized.
   James had chosen, of all times in the week, that afternoon to reorganize his desk.
   Several other employees were eating lunch.
   And hurling french fries at each other.
   After awhile, I believe Greta damaged her vocal chords.
   At least it was quieter.

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