I worked at K.B. Toys for so long that they made me a manager. I don’t think that they were reluctant to offer me the position, and I definitely wasn’t their first choice, but I proved myself willing and capable. I was genuinely excited to become a manager for… self-explanatory reasons! Plus, everybody knows that working at a toy store as the temporary full-time assistant store manager is guaranteed to make the opposite sex swoon. That, and the hook-ups from Auntie Anne’s pretzels are supreme. Reality check – they tacked on the word “temporary” to my title because it spared the company from offering me health care options.
I recall my boss (the general manager) wanting to ease me into the position, so for my first week as manager I opened and closed the store with only him or my co-assistant. He figured that opening the store wouldn’t be my strength, because being alone inside an eerily quiet toy store devoid of customers in the morning hours is creepy. Even he copped to that.
So he had me close the store, because I wasn’t as afraid of being mugged and raped in the dark, damp parking lot as much as I feared dolls and board games becoming re-animated with the tortured souls of Luddites enraged that they’ve been reincarnated into electronic devices. He let me close with another toy store veteran, this dude Andy who had been working there for as long as anyone could remember (3 years). I would come to understand why he wasn’t a front-runner for the promotion.
The closing duties entailed the powering down of the registers, the counting of the tills, the cleaning of the store, the locking of the door/gate, and the depositation (new word!) of the store’s earnings. Toys sell themselves, so we dicked around and waited for closing time. We dicked around so hard that I felt under-prepared come closing time. I had one hour to perform all of the aforementioned duties *gasp*. It would be an anxiety-free event for most people to count some money and throw it in a bag. I, however have a rudimentary set of math skills. I spent nearly forty-five minutes (of the hour provided to close) counting two registers and reading a dozen e-mails.
The back-room that housed the manager’s office also housed the lone toilet for the employees, and tripled as a storage space for returned toys/recalled toys/shit-we-couldn’t-fit-anywhere. Just when I was at my most panicked, my co-worker strolled into the back-room to offer me sage advice. He reassured me that he would have the store vacuumed and the aisles straightened in a timely fashion, and that I need not worry, to simply focus on the money. As he talked to me his voice trailed away, and I didn’t want to turn and look, because I was positive that he was yelling his words of encouragement from the bathroom.
When I finally stopped counting the money in my hands, I turned ’round on my stool to see the most glorious display of recklessness and carefreelessness I have ever seen. To this day, it is forever etched into my mind’s eye. There was Andy, his right foot on an overturned mop bucket for added height; his knee bent and left foot perched on the toilet lid, right hand above his head holding a red toy bucket over the smoke detector, left hand gently bringing a lit joint to his pursed lips.
Then he kindly asked, “wanna hit?” His spirit shone through his body. He was dead fucking serious about helping me out and tidying that store. It was a promise. He was also honest and sincere in his offering of the ganja. I thoughtfully declined.
However, in that moment, I was the coolest temporary full-time assistant toy store manager ever.
I think we could all learn a thing or two from Andy.