Thursday, October 5, 2006

Coworkers: Part 60 - Jinxed

   "Well, I'm hardly responsible."
   "Ah."
   I listened, reluctantly, to Jinx. Manager trainee. Not a newly promoted associate. No, an off the street wannabee, who'd decided a music industry career might enhance her life. Enrolled in Blockbuster's manager training program, a miserable concept if ever there was one.
   Jinx knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about AM chart action or FM airplay beyond 1979. She "liked" Country, but she couldn't discern the difference between George Strait, George Jones or Grandpa Jones.
   In a word, she was exactly the sort of individual Blockbuster's recruiting campaign attracted. Someone who didn't nurture musical preconceptions. No Rock Snobs need apply. Preference granted to ignoramuses.
   I avoided this woman.
   I couldn't decide what to call her, either.
   Jinx or Jinxed.
   See ... terrible things didn't happen to her. Bad luck or disasters tumbled on any hapless soul who came in contact with Jinxed.
   You caught the jinx.
   Took us a painfully long time to realize that.

   Jinxed originally worked as a copy shop clerk. Cheery and friendly. All smiles and stories. Needed to share. Husband suffered chronic health catastrophes. That is, when she permitted marital activity. The doghouse was his second home. The daughter was one of Life's sad sack losers. Drugs, couple of exes, parade of surly boyfriends, bill collectors, and slew of half related rugrats. The son was, at present, a guest of the governor. Huntsville Penitentiary. He was innocent, mind you. Jinxed always disliked his girlfriend, who had entangled Junior with a fast crowd.
   Jinx remained upbeat despite all those family members and friends upon whom misfortune descended.
   I was superstitious. To me, bad luck was contagious. Still, I had to train Jinxed on Shipping & Receiving. Future General Managers had to understand all aspects of store operations. Shipping was a no-brainer. Once a week, we shipped paperwork (payroll numbers and select invoices) to HQ. Fill out a form, slap an address sticker on a UPS box, leave it for the driver.
   Jinxed did fine. Next week, she filled out the form and sent the contents to her own house. Corporate honchos had a conniption, Jinxed apologized profusely, while I felt like prime steak idiot. I should have watched her like a hawk. Except I was distracted. My car (aka: Gold Box) had gone haywire. Middle of a street, Anywhere USA, Gold Box decided to shut down. Mechanics scratched their heads. Changed battery, wiring, contacts. Got it running, day later, dead. Retry.
   Gold Box was heavy to push.
   Receiving proved more challenging. Jinxed found it confusing to talk and tally at the same time. And she did prefer talking. Errors were rampant. After a few days, The Boss applauded her mastery and graduated her from Ship/Receive 101.
   "She can wreck her own store, she's not wrecking mine," he confided.
   Pat suffered similar issues teaching her filing and accounting. Pat had her own problems. About that time, her apartment evicted her, then her boyfriend dumped her.
   Stacey and John explained closing procedures. Within days, John's ulcers flared up. Stacey got ticketed after a car struck her while she walked across the parking lot.
   On and on, disasters compounded.
   Kristi got food poisoning. Blamed her boyfriend's mother.
   Winston's camcorders, editing equipment, and those contest videos he'd created were all stolen.
   One of the husbands was poking a bush that wasn't his wife's. Caught. Proceedings commenced.
   Derek's grapes went missing one week, bag of weed disappeared from his car the next. He began packing a gun.
   Philip worked part time. Rest of the time, he tooled around the Lonestar State, representing cattle. Jinxed didn't like him, bossed his ass around, bullied him until he gave notice. Philip was liked and sorely missed.
   Instead of a $1.00 tip at his dining stop, The Professor accidentally left $10.00. The waitress loved him! Until he returned and asked for $9.00 back.
   Dan scored with some rodeo doll, then injured himself. She went roping 'n riding elsewhere.
   Staplers broke. False alarms triggered at 3:00 AM. The restroom flooded. The back lift jammed midway. Power failure struck our entire block.
   As noted, I was superstitious. I drew a bead on Jinxed early on and shunned her. Corrupted almost the entire crew with my dotty idea.
   Almost.
   I tried to warn her.
   We all tried to warn her.
   Mandy.
   Jinxed jumped on Mandy like a starving tick on a fresh shaved Basset Hound. Mandy was never lucky making friends. She was now pregnant and Jinxed showered advice and attention all over her. When birthing time happened, Mandy phoned only one colleague.
   Jinxed.
   All along, family doctor and obstetrician anticipated a normal delivery. That night, Jinxed waited nearby. Complications. Mandy had to be sliced open like a melon. Baby was fine.

   We endured six rainy months, dodging lightning bolts, arrest warrants, bubonic plague. Rack and ruin wrought by Jinx's malevolent wraiths. End of that time, she announced she didn't wanna manage a music store after all.
   Jinxed transferred away. Became Assistant at a mid cities Blockbuster Video location.
   No one ... No one ... kept in touch.
.

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