Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York
So, suddenly there I was at work, like a freshly powdered baby sent out into the world to face the day, a baby boy who'd just been smacked on the ass and told to "go getem' tiger!". It happened quickly. One minute I was dropping off a resume, the next minute I was working at clothing store called TopShop in SOHO along with about 6 other day laborers... Needless to say I was a little bewildered and teary eyed, to say the least. And this is the point where I nearly snapped - like those crazy women on the Oxygen Network - and broke down. It was discouraging folks. The lights were bright and shocking. I was in the show and ill prepared for the spotlight. The place was hoppin' when we walked through the front doors. I mean, literally, clothes were flying off the racks. Recession my ass! People were going after four floors of clothing like vultures going after a roadside carcass. The place was nuts. It was like the fall of Saigon with all those people trying to get into the American Embassy kind of nuts. I was afraid for my life. We'd walked into a feeding frenzy at newly opened store where we were supposed to work, but whe'd gone in the wrong door - the front door. Immediately we were ushered out and told to go around to the back, as I'm sure that our beleagured appearances were sobering to the purchasing public - nobody likes to buy shit with poor folks standing around looking desperate and miserable. It's fucking depressing man...
So we walked our tired bodies around the block to the back door. Once inside we were given a brief tour and sent to our respective posts. My post was the men's department in the basement called Topman. The managers and coworkers were all hip kids in tight pants and ironic clothing half my age. And I was their beckon boy. The store was probably one of the hippest places on the planet at that moment in time and I was a desperate 35 year old man struggling to survive (very unhip) making minimum wage (7 fuckin' dollars and change people!). I was being bitched around by squirrely little kids half my fuckin' age (actually most of them left me alone all day long as they thought, as I found out at the end of my shift, that I was a confused shopper who didn't know where he was - like an old man who couldn't remember his name or some shit). For hours I walked clothing from the dressing rooms back to the racks in virtual daze as I fought back the urge to start crying, as a knot of nerves, anxiety and nausea built in my stomach. And by the time I made it to my first break and walked around the corner outside where I could sit by myself and catch my breath the tears were welling up in my eyes as I tried to figure out where I'd gone so terribly wrong in my life (many places it seemed). I was a crushed spirit. And for the fifteen minutes that I sat there on a stoop in the cold and drizzling rain I contemplated walking to the subway and going home. But I needed the money and I didn't have any other leads for work at the time and I didn't want Marie to worry about me making rent anymore.
So I sucked it up and went back.