Cereal, Milk, and a Bank Loan (Part 1)

Bag of MoneyI own a copy of The Satanic Bible because of my time working at a bank.

Let me begin by pointing out that this was not a normal bank. For some reason, the higher-ups in the banking world (who I always like to imagine as fat pigs in suits with cigars) thought it would be a good idea to have a bank in a grocery store. Really? Okay, sure. This grocery store was also in the heart of a more struggling community, so the idea of a bank being in that store in that area made the entire experience that much odder.  Sometimes it would leave me feeling like we were taunting the more struggling citizens (those shopping with food stamps). Not for you…

No one that knows me would have argued that banking is the best career choice for me. Yes, I enjoy interacting with people and customer service to a certain extent, but numbers are not my thing. The one time I had ever (ever!) needed a tutor was for a beginning college course in Accounting. I remember the tutor having a hard time explaining something to me and so she would talk slower and slower as if it was the speed of her explanation that was the problem. For all I know that tutor is still sitting someplace trying to finish that sentence.

I was in grad school at the time (working towards a master’s in English Literature), and the job worked around my busy classroom schedule, so I couldn’t say no, no matter how off this position was for me.  It almost made me feel like I had a secret identity. At school I was in cool t-shirts and hoodies, talking about Virginia Woolf and William Shakespeare; at work, I was a business professional talking about mortgages. I was the English major’s version of Clark Kent.

Being in a grocery store, the bank looked more like a pharmacy, with one back office and a long counter. But instead of pills we were pushing financial obligations and long-term debt.  We were there to open accounts, sell the services of the bank. We were the front line of a financial war, and the shoppers walking around were the targets. Our weapons were free rulers and pens and other minor office supplies with our logo on them. It was also my job every thirty minutes or so to wander around those grocery aisles, interrupting strangers who were in the middle of shopping.  Honestly, it all felt so very rude and I hated it.

“Hi, I noticed you are buying groceries. Would you like a free notepad for your grocery list? No… Okay… Well, I’m with the bank over there and we are offering a new special on an equity loan… And… I’m sorry for bothering you.”

I said sorry a lot when I was on that job. Continue reading

Advertisements

Poisoning the Genius

poison-symbol1I want to say this at the start and I want it be clear to all who read this that I had no intention of killing my professor.

However, I’m certain if things had turned out worse that fateful night, some of my fellow students would have sold me down the river. I can picture them even today, accusingly pointing their finger across the courtroom at me. “There he is! That is the man who did it! That is the monster!”

The funny thing is there is actually a precedence for poisoning teachers in my family. Back when my grandmother was a principal at monthly meetings one of the heavier set teachers used to eat all of the snacks before the other teachers had a chance. My grandmother, being my grandmother, decided that she was going to send a “subtle” message to that teacher.

At the next full staff meeting, my grandmother brought in “special” brownies. Oh, they were fine. Perfectly fine… except for the biggest piece which was filled to the brim with laxatives.

That teacher called in sick the next day.

“But that is my grandmother!” I would say to the judge. “She is not me! And I had no idea that I was technically poisoning the guy. I throw myself on the mercy of the court.” Continue reading

The Night I Stopped Being a Model

ModelsFrom around the age of 8 to about 13, I was a model. Yes, I once worked it.

Before anyone gets overwhelmed by images of catwalks, raining money, national commercials, and maybe bulimia, this was all local stuff; the work was not even unionized. And, to be honest, even locally I was not very popular. My brother was the popular one. He even had an agent before me. He is six-years younger than me, did a lot of local theater and had cute long curly hair.  He played the camera, I stared dumbly at it.

So in a way, I was the twofer. “If you need an older brother for the cute kid, we have one ready for you!”

The first ad, I ever did was for a holiday commercial for Meijer. It was around GI Joe action figures, and for some reason they had me and this other boy dress in matching camouflage (because boys did that, coordinate their clothing with their toys). And for about 15 minutes, this stranger and I played with army toys on the ground (that was turned into less than five seconds on TV). Knowing me as a kid (and now), the image of me dressed like that playing with that kind of toy is kind of hilarious. That’s acting, that is!

Most of the work I did was around print ads, I would be brought into a photography studio, put on shorts or a shirt I would never consider wearing and pretend to laugh with strangers. Then on Sunday, my family and I would grab the newspaper, and scan for the local ad and image…. That would be followed by phone calls with family, pats on the back and then the ad being cut out for a scrapbook.

I didn’t like being in the spotlight (still don’t to a certain extent), but I liked the check. Sometimes I would buy a toy or book with it, many times I put it in an account (I would use most of it later in high school to buy a new alto saxophone). It was all a perfectly fine arrangement… until the night I decided I wouldn’t model again. Continue reading

The Mad Man I Stole From (Part 2)

White Piano

This is part 2 of a rememberance I began in Part 1 here.

So for two months, I worked for the mad man, and strangely I saw him very rarely while doing it. I was supposedly restarting his car company, chasing his dreams, but I was doing it mainly solo. The working arrangement went something like this:

  • When I could get away from my own writing, I would leave him a voicemail saying I was going to the office with the white Elvis piano. (I would never receive a response to the message.)
  • If it was the right guard at the front desk (which was only occasionally, sometimes if another guard was on duty when I left later they would have some questions on where I was coming from), I would sneak into the building and up to my own little office.
  • After playing a few chords on the piano (Who wouldn’t?), I would then go to my spot in the back, turn on the computer, write for a few hours, and print up whatever I wrote for his review.

The strange thing is he never reviewed what I wrote! Not even a word. The most I would hear from him was the weekly small check by the computer waiting for me and an occasional assignment.

Usually, those assignments involved me having to drop off a check someplace or making a phone call for him. On one occasion, I had to drop off a check at a government office, I was informed exactly which worker to meet with and a script of what to say. That experience took over four hours with nothing but old magazines in a waiting room for entertainment.

After the specific worker took the check from me (after listening to my excuse from Mr. W that the rest of the money would be in soon), he looked me up and down and asked, “What are you doing working for him?”

It was a great question. “I have no idea,” I responded. And I didn’t. Continue reading