Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
My ankles were bugging me as soon as I walked in. Usually, I walk in fresh and ready to fly. The first hour and a half usually flies by. The batteries are fresh in my copters, there's a nice energy in the mall before noon and I'm just on autopilot until I get hungry around 1:3o. Today, I was dragging ass. I go to the counter to check in and that girl cashier, Shantell (who I thought might have been a guy and turned out to be a lesbian) decides to say, "someone's late" and follows it up with "that's nice that they let you come in so late today" in front of the manager. Thanks. Bitch, I got you a large Powerade two days ago and was late coming back from lunch and got chewed out for it and you never even paid me back or got me one in return. That was necessary. Please never be that guy who gets a kick out of calling out their co-workers in front of the boss. No one likes that guy. Or girl.
As I mentioned in Day 1, when I thought gifts might be a regular thing, I had a 4-free meal at McDonalds coupon to use and for whatever reason, I couldn't get co-workers to have free lunch. Mostly it was just that they all had different lunch breaks. Maybe it's because I'm helicopter guy and I get paid way more than them and only have to work 6 days a year. Maybe I've just seen this episode of "Friends***" too many times:
Cloud Force: 28 ($2 per)
Silver Bullet: 56 ($1 per)
Down slightly from yesterday, but I came in an hour later and lost a bit of my swagger towards the end. All week when someone asked me if it took me a while to get that good at flying helicopters*, I said "nah, it's pretty easy. It just took me a day or two." By 8:30 Wednesday night, I honestly said, "I've been flying them non-stop from 11-9 six days in a row."
Fact that may only interest me**:
I find it odd that I sold exactly half as many big ones as small ones. It makes sense since I pitch the small ones as two for one, but the exact ratio is still odd. A lot of people buy just one small one or 4 small ones or one of each.
Quote of the day:
As the first person you see when you come into Brookstone, I get asked where something is in the mall. A lot. Usually, I shrug. I have no idea where JC Penny or Build a Bear or Dillards are. Sorry. I know where the Food Court and Abercrombie & Fitch and Hot Topic are. That's it.(I only know Hot Topic because it's my landmark to exit to find my car.) Today, a 50 something year-old man needed help and I could finally be of assistance.
He pointed to the Abercrombie & Fitch logo on his sweatpants and asked "Do you know where this store is?" I do! But...
1) Why is a 50 something year-old man wearing A&F sweats?
2) Why couldn't he just say "Where Is Abercrombie? instead of the awkward pointing?
My co-worker and I decided he couldn't pronounce Abercrombie and wearing his son's sweat pants was the only way he could find the store without embarrassing himself and that plan was backfiring. We imagined him practicing at home. "Can you help me find Abacradambie and Fitz?" and then getting nervous, thinking "I know it sounds like that red Thanksgiving turkey topper. A cranberry?" Anyway, what a tool.
I'm currently obsessed with: http://parentswhotext.com/. I imagine this dad texting his teenager: "Gr8 sex s! Got to Ab fitch. S-pants so cheap. I'mma make them in 2 stockings... LOL... @ hot topic now. Kneed N e things?"
I can't believe it's taken me this long to tell you this, but a shocking amount of people say "Wow, cool, an airplane!" every day. Honestly, at least 30 people a day. Really? The word "Helicopter" is too much for you? You're OK settling on "airplane" you lazy shit. I know part of the reason this happens. Yesterday, a little boy was looking at the helicopter fly around in awe and his mom said "Isn't that a cool airplane?" The woman with her said, "You know that's a helicopter, right?" and the mom said "Oh, he can't say helicopter. This is just easier." You are really dumb. For real.
First off, little kids mis-pronouncing things like pasghetti and hewicuapter is a-fucking-dorable. Why rid the world of that cuteness? Also, little kids can pronounce helicopters. I've seen it. But because of your mis-information, dozens of adults can't remember that word. I know, it's tricky. I just call motorcycles "cars" and cheese bread "pizza" because it's easier that way. OK, there hasn't been a great helicopter TV show or movie, so it must really stretch the limits of your imagination to remember such a difficult concept. Sorry to burden you with the word helicopter. Most importantly, by intentionally teaching your kid the wrong things, you're just teaching them to fail. Thankfully, this woman was very pregnant, so she'll be unleashing more of her genius lessons on the world too.
- # of people who tried to get candy from the machine: 5 The fewest yet! One kid made three hand motions at the machine, though. God I wanted to punt him across the room.
- # of people who told me I have the best job in the world: 2 OK, either my body language made it clear I didn't feel like I was having the best day at my best job or people just needed to make their last Christmas shopping time count.
- # of kids who asked if they could fly it: 25. Some things never change.
- # of free Asian chicken samples: 0. After writing about what a terrible job it is, I couldn't bring myself to have one. OK, I'm no hero. I'm fucking sick of that chicken.
- # of kids with a Justin Bieber t-shirts: 0, but one dude did have a big purple shirt that said "Ain't nothing important to me, except... CODEINE over ice." I wanted to chase him down for a pic, but dude was on the move. Prolly for some syrup. Oh, shit. I found it online. I love you, Internet.
I have what I assume has to be an annoying habit for everyone around me, in which I insist on taking control of the music, even when it's wildly inappropriate. Have I already had several back and forth discussions with the DJ of the party I'm going to on NYE tonight as soon as I found out he was DJing? Of course. Did I bring a boombox of White Stripes songs around all Halloween weekend when my girlfriend and I dressed up like Jack and Meg. You know it. I'm that guy.
So after suffering through six days of Glee Christmas, enough was enough. As much as I'd like to say I'm good at picking out the right music for the right situation, I'm not. But I thought Local Natives would be a smooth transition. Halfway through the first song, an assistant manager told me we had to put Glee back on. I FB updated about it and ended by saying "soul=crushed." I was even excited when some clowns came in to test a speaker and put P.O.D. on the system. Even that felt like an improvement. After they left, I reasoned with the asst manager, who showed flashes of being cool and was like, come on. My last hour. I need this. We need this. I'll pick out something easy listening-enough that people won't notice. He gave me the go ahead.
You know what Bob Marley says the one good thing about music is. The man knows. My ankles felt no pain. I got goosebumps when "Airplanes" came on and I realized I had to write about it tonight for Festival Crashers anyway. The last hour flew by. I even ended with "The Sprawl II," "We Used to Wait" and "Modern Man," which, when you think about it, is quite a good song for a Brookstone shopper even if "The Suburbs" is not the ideal album for the store, it worked. To close my set, I went with the song that ends all going home mixes I make. Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)" The Stop Making Sense version.
I thought of home in Austin. I thought of my friends. I thought of my girl. I want to go to there.
"Home. Is where I want to be. Pick me up and turn me 'round." One girl in the store mouthed the words and did her own little Byrne dance. I smiled. No one has reacted to the Glee soundtrack once. "Guess I must be having fun." I said quick goodbyes to my temp co-workers. "The less we say about it the better." I headed back to the Travelodge. "If someone asks, this is where I'll be." It's over. What a week. I made more money and wrote more than in any six-day stretch of my life. "Cover up and say good night. Say goodnight." (lamp dance...)
So, that's it from Lafayette. I'm booked for a week of shows in the Austin Brookstones after Christmas and have a batch of essays I've half written in my head on everything from how I learned to sell, to my co-workers to the look on a kid's face when he sees his first helicopter, etc. This isn't the end. Don't worry. Thanks to everyone who read and commented on Facebook or Re-tweeted. It meant the world to me to know you cared and enjoyed reading about it. I know I've had fun writing. It kept me sane. Thanks again.
*If you've read Outliers (and you should) you know it takes 10,000 hours of practicing something to become exceptional at it. Well, 6 days of non-stop flying with a cache of four helicopters and unlimited batteries has made me the Marcus Dupree of RC helicopter flying. The real reason I was late today, was because I was performing bris' in the parking lot with the wing of the 'copter, I'm that damn precise. Kid didn't even cry. You get it. I can fly the bitch.
**Trademark Peter King
***Yeah. I still like Friends. I use to DVR it until Bryn wouldn't stop making fun of me. I know it's really cheesy and the laugh track sucks, but it's a comfort show. Sue me.
****I watched the pilot of Glee out of curiosity when all the hype started. Just not for me. No, this is not just redemption for admitting I like Friends. OK, maybe a little. But it's really not my thing. The only Glee related thing I've ever enjoyed was when Dwight said "Who would want to show about the emotion glee? Thirst. Now that's an emotion I'd watch a show about."
I took time away from my usual Abercrombie & Fitch spot**, where I rest my feet on breaks, to capture these Mall Warriors at work. These aren't the 5 worst, but here are The 5 people you meet in Hell (the mall.)
5. Jesus t-shirts guy-
This isn't a statement on religion. This is a statement on horrendous punny t-shirts. You can see the one that says "driven" with a picture of the nails on the cross, right? This guy just oozed d-bag and the shirts were cheap, tacky "jokes" that appeal to ... who? Not religious types, right? Teenagers who want to rebel but aren't emo enough for Hot Topic? I took this pic rather obviously and he asked why I was taking pics. I said I was keeping track of what was going on in the mall. He asked if I worked in the mall. Yeah. I do. Bitch. And if I didn't?
Why his job sucks: He has to deal with the kind of people who think these shirts are clever. And there's more folding than the encore of a Phoenix show.
4. Dead Sea products girl-
She insisted on using a scrubbing brush on my fingers. She holds your hand, looks in your eye and tells you she has an intriguing accent. She said it. Not me. She forces things in that kind pushy Israeli way that's sweet, but just a bit much. I told her I was Jewish and we counted to 10 in Hebrew together. Now my right thumb is shiny. I don't know why. I didn't let her finish.
Why her job sucks: She's touching way too many people's grubby hands all day. It's like a manicure while standing and for no extra money. And a whole lot of shtick. Oy vey.
3. Hot Topic Girl-
Yes, she has a tail on. Yes, her pink case iPhone is in her back pocket. I spent less than one minute in this miserable establishment and overheard a beaut of a convo. The stud in green was explaining how he wanted to plug his ears, but his parents were "very, very against it" and he was going to transition to it from smaller piercings. He's leaning down to look at the piercing options.
Why her job sucks: She has to facilitate conversations with these kids who have no identity and have to latch onto commercialized rebellion in the form of slogan t-shirts. It's the least punk punk BS imaginable. The kid is getting plugs to try to impress her. Or at least he's pretending to. And she can't laugh about it to his face. Having said that, she's the one wearing a tail. So, who's laughing at who?
2.Native American stand guy-
Why his job sucks: This is really sad. It's the combination of the worst part of all the jobs I've listed above except he has no food to give away. And if he did, it would have been taken long ago. Native Americans got as raw a deal as anyone in history. Instead of holding onto their pride, he's playing some random wind instrument while selling cheap jewelry and t-shirts like "Homeland Security since 1452." Ughh. What a travesty. That has to be hard to explain to his family. It's just a shame. I wanted to make this #1, but didn't want to end on a downer.
1. Sample Lady- She's positioned in the middle of the food court, the busiest, loudest part of the mall. As you know, I see her several times a day. I say thank you, but she never says anything back. Can you blame her? This job is a nightmare.
Why her job sucks: Everyone flocks to her and those samples last a total of two minutes with no thanks. As soon as she can put a toothpick through the chicken, someone has it in their hands, chomping on it in front of her with their fat mouths hanging open. Once the samples are gone, she has to awkwardly stand by the counter waiting for more, readying her toothpicks. "Want try Terriyaki chicken?" Yes. Thank You. I'm sorry.
*Raise your hand if you saw a Mitch Albom joke coming. Me either.
**Surprised that I spend my free time at the mall in Abercrombie? Quite simply, they have the most comfortable chairs and outlets so I can charge my phone. I'll even put up with the smell of the cologne that I literally saw being pumped through the vents and the just god awful music. One song goes "Put you on top and fa la la la la." Oh, kids these days.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
"Do like me and SET UR ALRAM FOR 9:54!! If you dont attend I will take it as u are not interested in working with us next year!"
Very important stuff. Just life or death info coming across here. So I call in at 9:45, put the phone on speaker and mute and screw around online. At 10, I'm still hearing waiting music and get a text asking me to come on the call I'm already waiting for. Sadly, I only hear the end of the conference call that ends by 10:08. I caught a few generic lines like to pitch the copters as 4 for $100 and some general bullshit (Salute for general bullshit), but this speech was no "Always be closing." Third place is you're fired.
I learned nothing from the call, shaved, hopped in the shower, brewed some coffee in the room and laced up the tie (that means i tightened it. I don't know how to tie a tie or own one. I just pull them tighter and loosen them at the end of the day. Thanks Monte! I'm still using the one from the Mad Men party.)Sales - Biggest day yet. What can I say, it's getting closer to Christmas. One set of grandparents bought 6 little ones and one big cloud force for grandpa. I made over $130 just on commission.
Cloud Force: 36 ($2 per)
Silver Bullet: 61 ($1 per)
Quote of the Day - I gotta love the kid who said "50 cents?" hopefully when I told him they were two for $50 because he said it so earnestly and it was adorable, but the quote of the day goes to a kid who looked old enough to drive, but not old enough to drink, because it was so unexpected. A lot of people ask if there's a camera or if they can hang string on the end to mess with their cat, but as he was walking away, he said:
"You should tie a mistletoe to that thing." I know it's not that clever, but compared to his contemporaries, this was genius.
- # of people who tried to get candy from the machine: 9. Way less than normal. One clown said "Durrrrr" after his friend tried to
- # of people who told me I have the best job in the world: 6. They actually varied it up more today. I heard comments like "Niiiice job" and "Pretty cool job you have there." One guy was so happy with himself for his astute comment that he repeated it to make sure his wit was appreciated. "He must love his job." (Looks back to make sure his friend heard.) "He must love this job." Yeah, buddy.
- # of kids who asked if they could fly it: 20 I've been letting the little kids hold it as I fly it out of their hands. I should probably stop, because one kid got jacked in the face by a wing when he got scared and tilted it weird. Thank god he's not a puss and he just shook it off. He was a pretty damn cool kid.
# of free Asian chicken samples: 3. And two Chick-Fil-A samples. I ended up getting Chick-Fil-A and it was the only meal I ate today. Simmons was right, it's the best fast food option there is.Bieber is back! 2 back! Double Bieber! What does this mean?! By the way, this is the actual store front for FYE in the mall.
One more thing. I work 11-9 and was told I get 2 fifteen minute breaks and an hour for lunch. You know, standard. When I got back from my hour lunch, I got this text: "Hey ur manager called n said uve been gone for over an hr. Wats goin on?" Apparently I'm only allowed a half hour lunch. Thankfully tomorrow's my last day in Lafayette. I did agree to work a few days between Christmas and New Years in Austin, though so don't worry. More stories are coming.
Monday, December 20, 2010
I guess I was just being over dramatic for a Monday morning, but it felt like I got no sleep, couldn't turn the alarm off, didn't have time to make coffee and forgot my tie. I got into the store at 11:15 and the nice girl who has tried to befriend me*** asked if I had a late night. I didn't feel like trying to explain the Nanny/alarm situation so I half nodded and went to work.
When you don't have a tie on, you're just a guy flying helicopters. My dad tells me how at a radio station he worked at back in the day they made the DJ's wear ties and they always got in the way. Ditto with flying helicopters. Here's what I can't figure out. How was today my best sales day?!
Cloud Forces: 18 When I was getting settled in, the boss told me we didn't have any and we wouldn't get any until Wednesday. Well, Santa came early. We got enough of the clouds to last all week. They didn't get there till like 4:00, but it revived me.
Silver Bullets: 71 I've gotten really good at selling two at a time with the 2 for $50 deal. One guy bought 6.
How did this massive sales day happen? I honestly don't know. I looked and felt like shit, was late and was freaking out about Adrian Peterson not playing and it was the only weekday I've worked, but it was my best day. Go figure. Especially when spazzy Adam Morrison didn't even buy one. Who's spazzy Adam Morrison? Author of quote of the day, of course.This super awkward spaz with an Adam Morrison mustache comes in and is mumbling about his helicopter that he got somewhere else. He was curious about the advertisement of the "gyroscope" on the box. I explained that it kept the helicopter steady.
Quote of the day:
"Gyroscope. Is that like the food, Gyros?"
Yes, the part of the helicopter that keeps it upright is exactly like the sliced lamb in pita bread dish. The only difference is cucumber sauce. You dumb shit. After I laugh it off and say "Well, I don't think they're related, but yeah, it hovers well because of the gyroscope," he turns to fruit punch mustache kid, who's completely mystified with the helicopter and keeps following it around with his fruit punch mustache mouth hung open, and says, "it has a gyroscope! like the food, Gyros! And they're 2 for $50 or $25 each." Whoa, whoa, whoa, spazzy Adam Morrison ... spread your lies elsewhere. After I get him to stop making shit up, spazzy Adam Morrison has me show him both helicopters and was totally hard for both of them, but still didn't get one. And I still had my best sales day. Go figure.
- # of people who tried to get candy from the machine: (Read day 3 first if you haven't for explanation) ~50. I usually rolled my eyes, but one guy was especially perplexed and I still felt like shit, so I emphatically, silently, pointed to each word of "This. Is. Not. A. Working. Unit." He felt really dumb. For real.
- # of people who told me I have the best job in the world: 7
- # of people who misheard me and thought I said 2 for $15 instead of 2 for $50: 0. I started enunciating the shit out of 50.
- # of kids who think the helicopters are $10 because they see the save $10 when you buy 2 sign and are can't totally read yet: 3
- # of kids who asked if they could try it: 15
- # of those kids who were satisfied when I let them hold it as it took off: 8
- # of kids who clench it with a death grip and wouldn't listen to the "hold it with an open hand" instructions no matter how many times me or their parents told them: 4
- # of those kids who got hit in the face when they held it crooked: 1
- # of kids with a Justin Bieber t-shirts/gifts/dedication t-shirts: 0 All these fads are over apparently.
- # of times I remember hearing “Winter Wonderland” on the Christmas mix: 0 I think the mix changed somehow. I'm mostly hearing "Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree." Would it kill them to put the Mariah
Carey version of "All I Want for Christmas is You" on this mix or the Home Alone soundtrack? That's the only decent Christmas music I know.
- # of free Asian chicken samples: 3. It did get me to eat the Chinese food in the mall. Damn it! I've always been susceptible to that trick. The Chick Fil-A people had samples. You never know how tasty Chick Fil-A is until you've had it for free right after having shitty terriyaki samples. Good lord. Why didn't I just get Chick-Fil-A? The sample lady didn't come out until after I'd eaten. Fuck it all. If I hadn't lost all 3 fantasy football match-ups in a devastating way, I think today might have been pretty solid. I guess it still was. Two more days left! It sure felt like Winter started today.
- Striped shirt with white collars/cuffs
- Khaki pants -4th day in a row.
- Silver tie- got it out, buttoned the top button, forgot it. My neck thanked me. I may be done with ties this trip. Who's gonna stop me?!
**This IS really fun to write about. It's 3:10 a.m. and I'm adding more footnotes.
***For the first two days, I honestly couldn't tell if it was a guy or a girl. Turned out it was a lesbian. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Quote of the day:
- A woman, in front of her kids, after being told the name of the 'copter. So many jokes I could have said back, but I just laughed.
"Why do they name everything after vibrators now? Silver bullet this. Silver bullet that."
Sales: Silver Bullet: 61
I swear I sold closer to 100, but I guess it was the shortest day and I didn't have any of the money makers.
I totally forgot the two dumbest things I see on a daily basis.
1. Candy Machine. Denied.
There's a candy machine right by the entrance with what appear to M&M's in them. It's written very clearly "this is not a working unit" twice on the front of the machine. Does this prevent 50 people a day from putting their hand in front of it? Of course not. I wish I could cue it to say "You are really dumb. For real." every time they put their hand there. Instead I just roll my eyes. Whatever, I get it. It's a candy machine*. You have to try. But the people who drive me nuts are the ones who don't get candy and then fuss and spend a good twenty seconds looking shocked and still fail to read the sign. At that point I wish they would just have it dispense cyanide. The counter to this? One kid stuck his grubby little finger inside and somehow got an M&M out despite it being designed to prevent this. I wanted to throw this kid a parade**. Anyway, 50 people tried to get candy. I'll start tracking this.
2. People. People who sell helicopters. Are the luckiest people...
People constantly tell me: "You get paid for this?" "You just fly helicopters all day?" "You have the best job in the world!" When kids tell me this I think, sure, at 11 I would have thought the same damn thing. When a 50 year old tells me how lucky I am, I want to tell them to fuck off. I'm in god damn Lafayette, Louisiana in the mall. The same 23 Christmas songs are playing on a loop. At least one of them is from a Glee soundtrack. Somehow the only one I liked, by Ben Folds, got cut from the mix, I have to wear a tie and stand on my feet all day and ask you how old your grandson is. Yes, I do enjoy playing with an endless supply of helicopters and batteries and I sure do need the money. But please, don't patronize me with a line that I have the best job in the world. Maybe the best job in the mall.
- # of kids with a Justin Bieber t-shirt/haircut: 0 On Sunday, Bieber and god rest.
- # of t-shirts dedicated to someone who died: 0
- # of gifts I got: 0, but the staff at the mall calling me Austin now makes me sad and miss home.
- # of times I remember hearing “Winter Wonderland” on the Christmas mix: 2. Now I keep hearing "Christmas Tree, oh Christmas Tree" and that "Last year I gave you my heart" song and they both suck a big bag of dicks.
- # of free Asian chicken samples: 3. I cut back. I'm kind of getting over Terriyaki.
- Blue striped shirt -2nd day of it.
- Khaki pants -3rd day in a row.
- Silver tie - 3rd day in a row I think he's doing that dice move too much...
*The candy machine costs $50. Ya know what's better than a $50 candy machine? $50 worth of candy and a big free bag.
**I wouldn't want to go to said parade, because parades are really lame, but this kid deserved one.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
- Cloud Forces: 14 ($2 commission per) I sold out of them by 2:00. I won't get more until Tuesday.
- Silver Bullets: 62 ($1 commission per)
- # of people who asked if the helicopter had a video camera: 7
- # of people who misheard me and thought I said 2 for $15 instead of 2 for $50: 8 wishful people
- # of kids who asked if they could try it: 15
- # of those kids who were satisfied when I let them hold it as it took off: 10
- # of those kids who cried when they couldn't fly it: 1
- # of adults who seemed genuinely sad when they couldn't fly it: 1
- # of those adults with tattoos on both elbows: 1
- # of kids with a Justin Bieber t-shirt: 2
- # of kids with Justin Bieber haircut: 1
- # of t-shirts dedicated to someone who died: 2
- # of gifts I got: 0, but the staff at the mall does know me as "Austin" now, so that's a gift.
- # of times I remember hearing “Winter Wonderland” on the Christmas mix: 2 - I figured out how to make the mix stop with no one noticing for a few hours and it made all the difference.
- # of free asian chicken samples: 5
- Tan shirt that nearly choked me
- khaki pants (I may just wear these until I can't anymore. If I wear the nice black slacks, they're gonna look goofy with Pumas and I'm already uncomfortable in the gym shoes. I'm not gonna start bringing fancy uncomfortable shoes into this equation.
- Silver tie
- I shaved today. Bonus.