Once upon a high school job…

In high school, I had a few part-time jobs. Typically, one was in the local mall, at a new men’s clothing store. My job was on the floor and seemed to mostly be tidying up stock. They had big tables stacked with sweaters and I folded them to keep the display attractive. My co-workers, which were plentiful, were a varied group. The first week, I was folding sweaters with an older man who started before I did. While discussing the job, he told me, “They hire everyone who walks through the door.” On hearing that, I felt a bit less special for having snagged the job. They DID seem to have an excess of “sweater folders.”

There was an air of disorganization about the management of the place. Although the store was very new, it wasn’t getting the kind of attention to detail you might expect. I remember a man and a woman who were supposed to be running the business, mostly being in a back office. In fact, I was shocked to see fellow employees boldly stealing from the store! The layout was poorly set up with a row of check-out counters up at the store’s front, where it opened onto the mall corridor. I witnessed cashiers letting their friends come through their checkout lane, put a bunch of clothes in a bag and hand it over with no money exchanged (this was before the days cameras were everywhere, especially stores prone to theft). Once I saw a young guy pull an expensive leather jacket off the rack, put it on, and walk right by his friends the cashiers and out the door!

This was just what I happened to see. Now I have to imagine much more occurred. Geez, I wonder if there was any cash left in the till at the end of the shift. These employees were not being clever or covert, obvious by the fact I saw them being so brazen. I was not naive and I was already aware life wasn’t fair, but I still thought it odd that they took such big chances. Those employees were scumbags in my estimation after that and I steered clear but I didn’t tell the bosses. It’s been too long for me to remember exactly why I didn’t, but I do know I felt no rapport with the latter. Maybe I thought they were in on it?

Right away the store started letting employees go. I’d only been there a short while when one day I came in and I overheard one of the management people saying that “tall girl” shouldn’t have come in today. Apparently, they’d meant to send me, whatever my name was, packing. And so they did. It burned plenty that they let me go and kept the thieves – oh yes, they were still there – but I said nothing. I expect I thought they all deserved each other at that point.

I had to return to the store a couple weeks later to get my check (I don’t know why it wasn’t mailed). On handing me the check, the manager guy asked if I’d found “another job.” I answered with a decidedly cold, “No.” I was pissed how they’d treated me. I sensed a possibility he was going to offer that I come back to their store, but I wasn’t about to give him an opening to do so.

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