United Dairy Farmers was about as suck ass as jobs could get and Dave knew it. The pay sucked, the customers sucked and everyone quit all the time so he had to work doubles almost every week. Suck suck suck. But since he started working day shift, he hardly ever got robbed and the store was right on the bus line. It was fairly routine. He came in at 9am and worked 8-12 hours, picked up some smokes for his dad and sometimes milk or whatever and went home. It had been 6 months now since he needed a steady gig after the sad and sudden demise of his band The Rebecca Riots.
Day shift was usually pretty dull. Willard came in to refill his coffee mug and then sat outside with his sign, HOMELESS VET, VIETNAM. Dave was supposed to charge him $1 but he and Willard had an agreement that as long as the store supervisor Randy wasn’t around it was cool for Willard to get coffee. He would ask for money and sometimes Dave would give him a couple bucks for a cigar or cigarettes. The only hard rule was that Willard could not use the bathroom which is a lesson all of the UDF employees learned once and usually the hard way.
It was hard to be too serious about the job especially since the store was looking so rough. The parking lot was oil stained especially on the far left where a college kid buying beer one night decided to abandon his car when it wouldn’t start. The garbage can out front was stained from no less than 10,000 cigarettes that were smashed out on the top no doubt by people coming into the store to buy cigarettes. There was nothing but concrete on one side of the store and a broken chain link fence on the other. And in front like a rumpled hood ornament sat Willard, a tribute to deinstitutionalization. For Dave, it was a perfect place to hide.
Sometime around 10:30 Randy burst through the door; the store’s electronic chime didn’t match his enthusiasm. He gave an opened mouth fake smile to Dave who looked up from his paper. “Hey” Randy would usually mention that he shouldn’t be wasting company time by reading but he was distracted “it’s happening, man…. it’s actually happening!” Dave just looked at him as Randy unlocked his closet office. It had been the closet where they had kept the cleaning supplies until Randy commandeered it for his office. He had taken the extra toilet paper and straws and sawdust that they used to clean up the occasional puke that was usually found in front of the beer cooler and stuffed it all under the counter so he could set up a chair and a milk crate desk. He also repurposed the cork board that had listed a corporate phone tree and first aid information and made it his vision board. When Randy graduated late from college at age 25, he had decided that he needed to take his career in management more seriously than he had his studies and not only should he have an office, he needed a vision board.
The vision board was a loose collection of photos, newspaper article titles and pictures from magazines of everything that Randy wanted out of life. It included palm trees, a martini and the photograph of a BMW which Randy believed to be a most superior luxury brand. Dave noticed that Randy picked up the Wall Street Journal often, would turn to the stock section and exclaim “IBM is through the roof! I need to get on that…” He was also prone to come into the store with gadgets like a voice recorder or an electronic rolodex and ramble on about how these gizmos would help him to use his time wisely. He was convinced that he had to have a mobile phone. That was on his vision board, too. “Everyone is going to use mobile phones before you know it.” Dave just nodded his head and tried to ignore him.
Randy fumbled around his office “aren’t you going to ask me?!” Dave was sitting behind the counter looking at the classifieds “what”. Randy gave an exasperated sigh and poked his head out of his office “what is happening! Didn’t you hear me?” Randy went back into the office grabbed his keys and a clipboard and stood in front of the counter, he gave a quick look around to make sure no one was in the store and in an excited ½ whisper “Bob Holmes bought a boat!” Dave looked sideways thinking “who is Bob Holmes…”
“Randy, you’re the manager.”
“No, I know I’m the manager…the district manager! Bob Holmes!” and Randy stuck his hands out in front of him to indicate a fat belly. “he bought a boat…a bass boat.” Randy was still smiling and said to no one in particular “a motherfucking bass boat.” He looked seriously at Dave “you know what this means.”
“That Bob Holmes likes to fish”
“No, silly!” Randy slapped the clipboard down on the counter. “No one buys a bass boat in Central Ohio unless they are going to retire.” He shook his head and raised his eyebrows “and you know what that means.”
None of this was making sense to Dave but he was starting to feel uneasy. “no, man. I really do not know what any of this means.”
Randy picked up the clipboard and smoothed his hair. “The district manager’s position will be opened, and I intend on getting that job. Yes, I do.” Randy walks to leave “and when I apply for that job, well Dave my friend, that will leave a very important job vacancy at this store. A very important job that just may have your name on it” Randy points at Dave and then points to his office. “think about that.”
Randy swaggered out of the store leaving Dave with the sinking feeling that he just may be too old to not apply for the manager’s job. He already didn’t want the job that he had and now he was sinking deeper.