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Friday, 07 January
Warehouse

When I got done with college--sporting a mighty Bachelor of Theater degree--I of course had to get a job. Strangely, Hollywood casting directors (or, for that matter, Hoboken casting directors) were not exactly scratching at my zipper or anything, so I had to find, as they say, a "real" job.

When actors say things like "real" jobs, that means: Jobs that suck. You know, like the ones normal people have. And we always say it in a tone that suggests that these jobs are beneath us--we're trained actors! We want unreal jobs! Like, say, acting! This is partly why actors are such a pain in the ass. We've trained extensively for a job that barely exists, and when it does, it usually pays nothing. And then we get snitty about it. Why you people tolerate our ilk is beyond me, because frankly, we're fucking deluded and strange.

Anyway, I got a job working at my roommate's dad's company, which was a "paint sundries" warehouse, filling orders. "Paint sundries" really just means: "Paint-ish shit that isn't paint." Like deck sealant, varnish, rollers, tarps, caulk, etc. It was hardly a challenging job, but it was actually--in the sepia-tone of easy nostalgia, anyway--sometimes fun. A particularly respected skill was being able to master the flinging of empty shipping tape rolls (those big cardboard disk) in such a way that they'd glide for yards. It takes a kind of wrist-flip that only practice brings. Even more respected was the ability to throw the things with velocity and accuracy, because the real idea was to hit another guy in the head.

See, the place was all boys. Of course it was, and I don't mean that in any demeaning way--any woman could have done the job. But it was just a boy place . . . even for the men. There were 40-year-olds there, with families. On the job, they were boys. Watch out for that tapeball!

They were:

Gary

Our fearless leader, the supervisor. Gary had buck teeth and three DUIs under his belt, so Gary always needed a ride. But as boss, this was hardly a problem, since anyone was happy to drive him around wherever (not me--I had no car), which was usually--surprise!--to a bar. Gary was also meticulous about the hazing of new employees, which is what led him to body-check me into several gallons of xylene (yay!). But then, he liked me. Less lucky was Mike (more on him later), who was shrink-wrapped into a shopping cart (which we used to carry orders) and sent sailing down the parking lot. Unfortunately, Mike's cart jumped a small abutment and he continued down a hill, screaming like a deranged bat. When the cart finally fell over, we rescued him, and then mercilessly castigated him for making us walk so fucking far to get him. Later, Mike would fail to notice when Gary fingerpainted "I WANT DICK" into the dust on his tailgate.

Bobby

Bobby was a fucking beast of a man, and I took good care never to piss him off. (Anyone who knows me can tell you that this takes a heroic effort on my part.) He was the strongest person I've ever seen. He was a stocky Irishman, and built like a walking sub-basement. I once watched him carrying six five-gallon cans of deck seal: two on his shoulders, two in the crooks of his elbows, and two more in his hands. He was also the one who, on a lark, casually picked me up and tossed me into the cardboard crusher (again, when I was new). Then he turned it on, knowing full well that the giant steel crush-plate stopped a good three feet above from bottom; he laughed like mad as I screamed piteously at what I assumed was imminent death.

Brian

Brian drove a Camaro, and wore Gargoyle shades; he had a mullet. For all that, Brian was, I swear, a pretty good guy. If I have relatively little to say about Brian, it's only because he had exactly three interests: 1. His car 2. Getting hammered. 3. Chicks. I liked Brian a lot, but let's just say that his plan was only about 2/3 successful.

Kevin

What to say about Kevin? Kevin . . . made me sad. Kevin quite clearly had something wrong in his head, and I couldn't figure it out for a long time. He stuttered a bit (not much), and would make bizarre, nutty errors (he had trouble with the whole concept of alphabetization, and was made famous once for putting a box knife in his mouth for storage when he needed both hands--of course the blade was out, and he cut the shit out of his tongue . . . bad). But finally, after a conversation with Kevin, I guess I got the story, and it was a little heartbreaking. Over beers, Kevin said, "You know, I used to be smart. Nobody believes me. But I wasn't this way." I didn't say anything. He continued. "Look, I was dealing some coke, okay? And this guy hit me over the head with a fucking pipe. He stole all my shit. And then . . . " Kevin raised his arms to half-mast in that universal gesture of "who knows?" "Ever since then . . . I can't think right. It's kind of fucked up."

Mick

Mick, another Irishman (big surprise), will probably die at the warehouse, if he isn't dead yet. Mick was all of these things: a drunk; a junkie (though he battled it mightily); an asshole ("Mick, would you--" "No."); a dreamer (he enjoyed Castaneda, the freak); a husband (to another, much more afflicted junkie); and a devoted father (particularly to his damaged little girl, who at the age of four still had never spoken a word . . . I of course figured on the heroin). Mick was also given to drunken pronouncements: "Skot . . . you're almost there, man. You're so close to . . . you'll see." I think I miss Mick most of all. He was a good man trapped in a horrible scenario.

But I do remember this: During the week, we would listen to the fucking classic rock station, but I finally managed to allow us to listen to a "modern rock" station on Fridays. One Friday, a Blondie song came on, and Mick came up to me.

"Is this Blondie?" he asked.

"Yeah," I said.

"If I wanted to hear junkie bitches scream, I'd go home," he said.

The aforementioned Mike ended up challenging Mick to a drinking contest. Pretty stupid; Mick drank Mike into a coma, almost literally. Mike really was a stupid guy.

I don't know why I miss these guys.


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Comments

looks like you've got an idea for a new tv series there! Maybe a new direction for you. Thanks for the laughs, especially when you were over here, England. Cheers!

Comment number: 004883   Posted by: on January 7, 2005 02:02 AM from IP: 62.254.0.56

it seems to be trip down memory lane day. i totally tripped on it in my post this morning. oof.

Comment number: 004886   Posted by: kristin on January 7, 2005 09:48 AM from IP: 209.219.209.68

The cardboard crusher trick is a classic. But we had a rule: If you baled a newbie, you had to mop up all the piss afterward.

Comment number: 004888   Posted by: Jim on January 8, 2005 10:26 AM from IP: 216.160.95.189

"Unfortunately, Mike's cart jumped a small abutment and he continued down a hill, screaming like a deranged bat. When the cart finally fell over, we rescued him, and then mercilessly castigated him for making us walk so ****ing far to get him."
Sometimes I can't tell where dramatic effect begins and ends, but either way? This is the funniest visual I've had in ages. Also, ouch.

Comment number: 004889   Posted by: CG on January 8, 2005 02:46 PM from IP: 172.133.45.187

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