While I was working at Big Lots in 2005, one of my fellow employees told me about Myspace.
“What’s Myspace?” I asked.
“Oh, it’s awesome!” he exclaimed. “It’s like having your own website.”
He gave me the necessary information, and as soon as I got home, I logged onto NetZero (dial-up Internet provider) and discovered the wonderful world of Myspace.
As I browsed my friend’s Myspace page, I came across this section called, BLOGS. I clicked on one of the POSTS and was directed to a new page with words. I read the words and laughed. I returned to my friend’s main page and clicked on another blog post. I laughed again. After reading a few more posts, I was hooked. I felt like I found something I was searching for but didn’t know I was searching for. That night I created my very own Myspace page. A few days later, I wrote my very first blog.
My first blog post was titled Babushka Heaven. Technically, it was my second. My actual first post was titled, Two Things I Love.
Two Things I Love
Beer and that fucking flying creature from The NeverEnding Story.
The reason I say Babushka Heaven was my first blog post as opposed to my second is because it sounds better. Also, if someone told me “whatever” was their second post, I would want to know what their first post was. So now I say Babushka Heaven was my first post, but technically my second. I should just lie and say it was my first post, but knowing that it was actually my second post would bother me.
I quickly became a regular blogger. Posting to Myspace every chance I got. I wasn’t too sure what I was exactly doing but did my best to make sure each blog was funny and interesting. As the years passed, I wrote hundreds of blogs which mostly centered around working crappy jobs. The first crappy job I blogged about was Big Lots.
The Get Real Quiz…Starring LOTTIE
So the Big Lots mascot is named Lottie. She’s a middle-aged African American woman with all the right curves, creases, and compliments. Lottie rocks! She also hosts the Get Real monthly quizzes which consist of questions dealing with Big Lots.
Yesterday, I took this month’s quiz. I got an A, but that’s NOT the point. The point is that the questions are easy, funny, and ridiculous. Whoever makes these quizzes wasn’t a fan of option D (neither am I), only reached 6th grade, and may be mentally challenged.
Here, take a look:
QUESTION: If you see an unsafe situation in your store,
A) Write a letter about it to the North Pole
B) Report it to you manager right away
C) Live dangerously and ignore it
Tough choice between A & C. I picked C.
That was a REAL question. I didn’t change a thing! Well, I guess the heads at Big Lots think their employees are brainless idiots.
Let me demonstrate how easy it is to make one of these questions. I am going to take 1 minute to do this.
QUESTION: When getting carts you should,
A) Push them with two hands
B) Ram them into parked cars
C) Use them as a toilet
In early 2006, Big Lots ended up going out of business. I was there till the end. We pretty much dismantled the entire store until the sales floor was a big lot of nothing. Anyway, after Big Lots closed, I needed a new job. I found that new job at Binny’s Beverage Depot.
The Gift Card
“Excuse me,” says customer. “I’d like to purchase a gift card.”
“Sure,” I say. “How much money would you like on it?”
“Ok.” Swipe, ring, transaction done. “Here you go.”
“How will they know how much money is on the card?” asks customer. “There’s no dollar amount listed.”
“You can tell them when you give it to them,” I say.
“But how will they know?”
At this point, I stop, look, and think..if you tell them how much is on the gift card, they’ll know how much is on the gift card.
“How about you write the amount on the card with a pen,” I suggest.
“Or with a marker.”
More confused look
“Do you want me to write $50 on the back of the card?”
I didn’t last long at Binny’s and quit after a few months to spend the summer working side jobs.
The Book of Rules
Like every city, the city of Joliet, Illinois has a book of rules. The book details many things ranging from waving to your neighbors to proper outerwear. Here is one of the rules:
The city of Joliet allows homeowners to own dogs under the following conditions: A minimum of 2 dogs per person and all dogs must be Pitbulls.
The summer ended. Sick of side jobs. Wanted a normal job. Color-blindness making it hard for me to get a police officer job. College useless. Employed at Pizza Trio.
The Box Backers
I don’t understand the fascination people have with boxes. I first noticed this at Binny’s. I would ask customers who purchased a good amount of liquor/wine bottles if they would like a box instead of a bag, and they would act like I offered them gold.
“A box? Really! Sure! Do you need it returned?”
“No,” I would say. “It’s yours to keep.”
When you order a pizza, have you ever thought of giving the box back? Because I’ve been asked if I need the box back more than once. Why would I need the box back? And what the hell do these people plan on doing with their pizza?
“Ok, here you go. Do you need the box back?”
Yes, I need the box back. Now please take the 18’’ x 24’’ pizza into your kitchen, lay it on your counter/table, and give me the used greasy, saucy, crusty pizza box back.
I moved to West Hollywood, CA in January 2007. I was hoping to attend graduate school at USC but was denied acceptance. I ended up working at RadioShack.
The Sales Tag
At RadioShack we change out the sales tags each month. This is a pain in the ass and a bigger pain if you forget to remove the sales tags when the sale ends. The latest sales tags were valid from April 24 through May 12. Today is May 13th.
So this guy walks into RadioShack and asks for a SD memory card for his digital camera.
OH NO! The Explainer!
I know this guy, because not long ago, I sold him a digital camera. And it wasn’t some easy, “Here’s the camera,” ring, ring, end of sale. I had to explain every single camera we had in stock in great detail until he finally decided on his weapon of choice.
“I’d like to see that one,” he said.
I walked in back, grabbed the camera, and returned to the sales floor.
“How does it work?” he immediately asked.
I don’t know? Read the manual. Everyone wants to know how it works. I don’t know how everything works in here! I don’t even know what half these products do! I’m just here. I’m a RadioShack presence that can show you where things are and knows how to use the cash register.
Luckily, I am pretty good with digital cameras and figured it out fairly quickly. He also picked the cheapest one, so there were only 3 settings. Flash, no flash, and movie. Simple.
I explained how to use the camera. “This is what you do…”
“Wait, hold on,” he said. “How did you do the flash thing?”
“Ok,” I said. “If you want to use the flash…”
“So this is flash?”
“No, this is the flash.” This flash conversation went on for a good 10 minutes.
“Does the camera have a timer?”
“That stuff I don’t know,” I told him. “You’ll have to read the manual.”
About 30 minutes later, he purchased the camera and left. Hopefully, that story explained why I was not happy to see this guy again.
“Hello,” he says to me. “You sold me this camera a while ago.”
The first thing I noticed was that he still had the protective plastic on the display screen. I wanted to rip that shit off. And it wasn’t a clear protective plastic. It was that foggy/dull smoked out looking plastic that turns the entire viewing screen into a complete blur.
“Yes,” I say. “I remember you…”
“The screen says this.” He hands me the camera and hidden in the haze were the words “memory full.”
“What does that mean?”
I explain to him that his memory is full and that he needs to get the pictures developed at a CVS or Rite Aid. My words take a good 3 minutes to sink in. “Ok, where’s that?” he asked.
“I’m pretty sure there’s a Rite Aid on Sunset and LaBrea.”
“Ok,” he says. “One more thing, can I buy another memory card here?”
“Yeah, I’ll show you where they’re at.” We walk over to the memory cards, and I read out the prices and explain the different sizes. Many are on sale (or so I thought). Seconds later, he decides on the 512 MB. I get the security key, unlock the card, and then notice the sales tag–the sale ended yesterday. FUCK!
“The sale actually ended yesterday. These tags were supposed to be taken down,” I say while removing the sales tag.
“How much is it?” he asks.
“$24.99!” he yells. “You just told me it was $9.99!”
“It was that price yesterday, but the sale is over. Let me check to see if any others are on sale.”
“Well you have to give it to me for that price. That’s what it says and you just told me $9.99! You should give it to me for $9.99.”
“I can’t sell it for $9.99,” I say. “The tag shouldn’t have been there.”
“Well I should get it for $9.99. That’s what it’s advertised. That’s what I should pay. Is there someone I can talk to?”
“I can call my manager,” I say. “Do you want me to call her?”
“Yes, for $15, pick up the phone and call your manager. I shouldn’t have to pay if it says one price, you even tell me the price, then you say it’s not the price, how can you change it, it doesn’t seem right, something’s fishy here, that’s a rule, yeah, that’s every store’s policy, as advertised, everyone knows that, it’s how things work……….. “
Can’t Take It!!!
I’m working at Papa John’s…and it sucks. I’ve already worked three days and haven’t delivered one pizza. I also have to work tomorrow and the next day and still won’t deliver a pizza. Why? What is going on? Didn’t you get hired as a pizza delivery driver? Yes I did, but Papa John’s believes in FIVE days of orientation!!!
Here’s what I’m learning:
1. How to top a pizza
This is a lot more complicated than it sounds. You got sauce, cheese, and sometimes you got ingredients (very hard). This takes 2-5 days to master. They tell us that no one has ever gotten it right the first day.
2. How to use a register
This is nearly impossible and takes 4-5 days. Reading screens is hard; it just is. Then you have to remember key commands. There are two important key commands that you MUST remember: F3 and F10. These keys are very hard to memorize. It’s been three days and I still can’t remember them.
3. How to work the dough
This is probably the hardest thing to do. You have to make a crust out of a ball of pizza dough. Veteran Papa John employees say that this can take years to master.
4. How to take out, box, and cut a pizza
Relax…it’s not as hard as it sounds. This can take anywhere from 2-4 days training. Different sized pizza’s require different cuts; thus, making this a complex workstation. If taking the pizza out of the oven and boxing it wasn’t hard enough.
5. How to read a map
I’m still working on this and trying to figure out something they call “direction.” It’s a very complicated system. North, South, East, West. Not really sure how it works, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. Hopefully I’ll have it down by day five.
6. How to talk when delivering a pizza
Supposedly, when you tell someone the price of the pizza, you say “ONLY” before the price. For example, “The pizza is ONLY $23.34.” I’m still not fully grasping this concept. If ONLY they will explain it a little better tomorrow.
7. How to make a pizza
Papa John’s expects every employee to put their “heart and soul” into every pizza they make. I still don’t know how I’m going to do that?
8. How to clean
Moderately difficult task to learn; usually takes about 3-5 days. Let’s see…sweeping, wiping down, washing, and taking out the garbage. You’ll spend about a day or so learning each activity.
9. How to act outside the job
Employees learn this after the first day and are told that they are ambassadors for Papa John’s. All employees must proudly wear the Papa John’s logo, display a positive image, and promote the company. Some people pick this up right away and others will never pick it up.
RadioShack made me crazy and hateful. Papa John’s made me depressed and self-conscious. After all those crappy jobs I finally got a somewhat respectable office job.
The Office Job
I am not an office person. I find them boring, monotonous, and depressing. I always knew I wouldn’t like working in an office but spent almost 3 years working in one. I think it was the whole thing about how I felt the need to get a Professional job. I also wanted a break from customers. I used to put up with their shit constantly, but not anymore.
While working at RadioShack, I once called a customer a “fucking asshole” and told him to leave the store. He deserved it though. He was giving this new employee a hard time because our registers were down.
“I don’t believe this!” screamed the guy. “I come here on MY SUNDAY and you’re telling me the registers are down!”
The new employee working the register kept apologizing over and over, but the customer wasn’t having it.
“This is MY SUNDAY! What am I supposed to do?! Unbelieveable!”
I eventually had enough and excused myself from helping this woman customer and said, “There’s nothing we can do right now.”
He didn’t like that answer either and started yelling at me.
At this point in my RadioShack career, I didn’t give a fuck about getting fired, so I said, “If you don’t like it then leave.”
He flipped out. “How dare you talk to me like that, fuck this place, blah blah blah!”
I then flipped out. “Hey fuck you! What the fuck do you expect us to do!? The registers are down asshole!”
“You can’t talk to me like that!” the guy yelled back.
We continued yelling until the guy walked out.
The thing about me is that I was brought up in that crappy job/customer service craziness. I realize that I’m crappy job material. I can’t work a normal job. I will hate it. I will probably hate my crappy job too, but at least I can write about it without feeling bad. I can’t write about my current office job. My boss is too nice. I have no co-workers. And I don’t interact with customers. I’m so fucking bored. Tired. Depressed. I forgot what makes life great for me. It’s not an office. I applaud those who can work in offices, but I can’t. I’m realizing that I can’t work any job. I don’t know what I’m going to do.
That’s pretty much the inside story of Babushka Heaven. Hopefully my old blog posts made you laugh and gave you insight into where I started as a blogger/writer. I don’t feel like much has changed since 2005. If anything, I don’t write about work as much. I’d like to, but it isn’t easy when you leave the crappy job world and enter the professional job world. Actually, my last post was about work. Writing about it felt great. The idea that I can get fired for something I wrote is kind of thrilling. Part of me probably wants to get fired. Send me back to the crappy work world where I belong. What else? I don’t have dial-up Internet anymore. I still live with my parents. I no longer have Myspace. I have Facebook and I hate it. But I need it, so I use it. Therefore, I hate myself. After reading over my old blogs, I think I currently struggle with honesty. Or maybe a better way of saying that is I have more of a positive complex. This can be linked to a number of positive people I have met over the last few years (mainly in the sketch/improv world) who claim anything negative is wrong. Or make you feel like negativity is wrong. I find the negative fun. I like positive too but what’s funny about a perfect life/person? Nothing. I need to keep strong opinions and say fuck freely. Yeah, that’s what I need to do. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. See. Now my writing is offensive and juvenile. I still love beer although it messes up my stomach. Kind of still love that flying creature from The NeverEnding Story although whatever the hell it is kind of freaks me out. I do feel like I should be writing even though some days I don’t have any idea if I am doing it right. But I guess that’s what makes it fun and interesting. I also draw pictures now. Sometimes I don’t feel like drawing them. Other times I don’t mind. I think that’s it. Thanks for reading!
If you would like to avoid Babushka Hell, please subscribe to my mailing list: