Unadventure Time

I always wanted to try looking like a dumbass...

I always wanted to try looking like a dumbass…

It’s time to slip on the old ball and chain and have one of my readers yank me around by the neck as I respond to another of their suggestions in my Friday Prompt the Squirrel series.  Hey, it’s not like I don’t secretly love the abuse.  If you haven’t claimed your spot in line to boss me around yet, just go ahead and do it already!  Come on… how often do you actually get a chance to tell a squirrel what to do?

OK, this is the last time I try yoga for you guys.

OK, this is the last time I try yoga for you guys.

prompt logoOne of the reasons I decided to choose the order I answer these prompts in is because it allowed me to get the easier ones out of the way and leave the ones I had no idea what to do with for later when I would hopefully have a burst of inspiration and/or energy.  This week’s entry will be one of those prompts I’ve been staring at for over two months without a clue as to how I would weasel my way out of address it.  It’s the only prompt I’ve gotten yet from a non-blogger… another longtime message board friend Cindy, who we also knew as “Hello Filly.”  And yes, her chosen screenname came from exactly where you think it did…

ES's reaction couldn't possibly be more appropriate to this 7 year old drawing.

ES’s reaction couldn’t possibly be more appropriate to this 7 year old drawing.

Here is what the pink Filly had to offer me:

I think  something along the lines of “fearless Fridays” where you step out of your comfort zone and try something new. It could be something like a new food (I’m thinking back to your millionaire trip and food.  I enjoyed reading that part) or a new experience,  Then your loyal readers get to read about what you thought about that experience.  ha

ha indeed.  Oh geez, what did I get myself into?

I think this prompt was meant to land in Mikey's email.

I think this prompt was meant to land in Mikey’s email.

That the word “fearless” was used comes from the belief that most people don’t try new things because they are too scared to do them.  Now that might apply to trying really risky things like skydiving, swimming with sharks, or traveling to Afghanistan… but for the everyday, ordinary “new things” out there I have yet to try, it’s more a case of apathy to me.  I have no urge to embrace my inner YOLO.  Why try new foods when my taste buds are quite happy to get the same old sensations day in and day out?  Why break the bank and put myself through the airport security gauntlet just to see all those baseball stadiums that are too far for me to drive to?

The TSA has a new experience for me to try...

The TSA has a new experience for me to try…

I couldn’t think of a single thing I wanted to lose my virginity to that I could reasonably pull off for this post.  Well, what about my past?  Maybe I could just tell a story.  Unfortunately, most of the exciting new experiences I can recall were either ones that were largely out of my control, or stuff that most people are expected to eventually do anyway… like go to college, get a job, move out of the nest, meet and date new people.  Most people who only know me online will swear there’s got to be an exciting and fabulous life behind the squirrel that keeps them so entertained… but in reality, most of you would be bored to tears with my real world.

Well, so much for this post.

Well, so much for this post.

But I’m not going to just blow this prompt off entirely, so what follows is a hopefully fun and exciting tale about a time when I was temporarily pushed out of my comfort zone…

Any one of my four sisters would totally do this.

Any one of my four sisters would totally do this.

When I first started working as an overnight stocker at Mecca in 1998, I wound up walking right into the Pets department.  That was my area for a year and a half… and the only reason I gave it up was because the constant slinging of dog food and cat litter bags finally wore my 24 year old back out.  For the next year and a half, until I finally landed in Paper Goods and Chemicals in 2001, I was used wherever I was needed and got the grand tour of the store.  I learned more about my job in those 18 months of floating than I did in the entire rest of my Mecca tenure.  It also meant I occasionally wound up in typically unfun areas like good old HBA…


OMG, like STFU with those WTF acronyms, IMO!

HBA is retailspeak for Health and Beauty Aids.  It’s the department where the soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and all of that other personal hygiene stuff can be found in.  Back in 2000, it was also home to these items…

This is where hazard pay should come into the equation.

This is where hazard pay should come into the equation.

In March of 2000, the simultaneous circumstances of me having to go on doctor-ordered light duty for my back and our regular HBA stocker going on LOA leave of absence, put me over in the area where no man has ever wanted to go before on a nightly basis.  Because the boxes are lighter and the area is sexistly more associated with women, the department has long been the domain of our female stockers.  Along with having to throw your man card in the trash compacter, HBA was just a real pain in the ass area to stock.  All those little skinny bottles of shampoo and hair spray… big, hairy man hands just wound up knocking them down like dominoes.  I was very much not looking forward to this new assignment.

I can just hear the FDS mockingly calling my name.

I can just hear the FDS mockingly calling my name.

I figured I’d do my four weeks of light duty filling Aqua Net and Massengill and get back to bigger and better things that don’t smell like flowers or involve humectant.  But when my easy lifting restriction expired a month later, the lady who normally did the department still hadn’t come off of leave.  In fact, she never did come back to Mecca at all.  Since I was now the “experienced” HBA stocker, I continued to get put over there without the possibility of parole.

My sentiments exactly.

My sentiments exactly.

But a funny thing happened… the longer I got stuck over there as the every night stocker, and the more knowledge I gained about the products, as well as the freight flow and the sales trends of each item, the more it became just like Pets had been to me.  HBA was fast becoming my area…. my home…. my domain.  By the time I’d been over there for six weeks, I so happily content with my new department that I was crushed when they gave me a new transfer from day shift to train over there.  I was moved on from HBA by lunch break that night, and never spent another shift with the douche aisle and the pad wall as my assigned area.

Here, have a rag to cry into, big baby!

Here, have a rag to cry into, big baby!

Funny how even the department I most dreaded having to ever work in was one I eventually had to be dragged out of kicking and screaming.  But in the end, it was all good.  Though I went back to being the super-floater/special project person, it set me up to inherit Household Chemicals, and eventually the Paper department as well a year later… and after 14 years of toiling there, that truly is where I belong.

Just think of it as industrial sized rags.

Just think of the towels as industrial sized rags.

And so that’s the best I can do with trying something new.  Thanks to Miss Filly for giving me the opportunity to adhere to my very tired routine of trying to BS my way through an important writing assignment.  I’ll try to better next Friday…. until then, I’m going to stick a cork in it.


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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32 Responses to Unadventure Time

  1. Trisha says:

    Maybe it wasn’t something you willingly pushed out of your comfort zone for but I think the amusing way you told the story makes up for it. Thank you for the laughs!

  2. draliman says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever willingly gone outside my comfort zone either (at least not in the last couple of decades). But I’m glad you enjoyed your time in HBA!

  3. I have been to the local equivalent of your store many times and never have I actually met or found anyone who knew anything about anything. My favorite is when they call over the PA for “some to … department” and half an hour later, someone slouches over to tell you there isn’t anyone who knows anything and they have a break now, bye.” Maybe you could take over our local outlet? I would personally appreciate it.

    • The days of having salesclerks in practically every area of the store are long gone since Mecca has determined that it can get by without the crew who does the salesfloor customer service. Where there used to be about 10-15 salesclerks at any one time on evenings and weekends (right up until closing time), now there are maybe 5 or so to cover the entire store. And in the waning hours of operation… there is sometimes literally nobody on the floor on the non-consumable side of the store. I’m so glad our store at least closes at night so we aren’t bothered by a constant barrage of customer requests for areas of the store that we don’t even normally touch, let alone have much familiarity with. I am a good football field away from Electronics, yet there are late nights where I am the closest associate a customer can find to unlock a game case with keys the CSM up at the registers now has since the Electronics clerk was scheduled to get off work at 11:00.

      When I finally get to your prompt, I’ll talk about this in much more detail…

      • It’s not just Mecca. It’s everywhere. Even high end department stores that used to pride themselves on service are so thinly staffed half the registers are closed. It’s ironic that while they complain that no one goes to brick and mortar stores, the ONE advantage brick and mortar has over online — namely service — is the area in which they fail miserably. It’s easier to get customer service at Land’s End online than at Nordstrom in person. It is a self-defeating approach.

  4. Hey, I have a question. Are there items that NEVER sell, or sell so few that no restocking is EVER needed? What do you do in that case? Just send them back to the manufacturer? Recycle? Give to the local homeless shelter?

    • I could (and at some point may) do a post on some of the worst “dog items” I’ve ever seen come through the store… or at least the areas I was familiar with. The first step is usually either a clearance markdown (possibly a series of markdowns), or it gets sent to the back with the hopes it might disappear into a black hole. If it can be sent back to the manufacturer, it usually is… but I don’t think that’s common. I once saw a certain item we took a huge hit on turn up at Big Lots… so pawning it off on someone else for pennies on the dollar also seems to be an option.

  5. fanrosa says:

    I tried something new today, NOT having a fresh prompt post to read this morning!

    I think your trying something new adventure could well have been the key words you had to put into Google to get some of the pictures in this post…..ha!

    • I’m used to typing these up in the middle of the night on Thursdays, so when I actually stayed up all day on Thursday without a nap for the first time in whenever, I didn’t get around to doing it until this morning. Then, I couldn’t finish it before lunch, so it got held even longer.

      A lot of the pictures are recycled from old posts (a trick… the month and year of upload is in the url for any picture uploaded on a WP blog). I have such a volume of pics built up, and I try to save as much of my storage space as possible, that I generally comb for oldies but goodies to reuse. I did that a lot with this post…

    • a1mamacat says:

      waves madly across the interweb..Hey Fanny!

  6. a1mamacat says:

    HA! Try telling your sad story to my 21 year old son, who willingly goes shopping for female hygiene products for his ladyfriend. When I pointed out how ‘kewl’ he was to do so, he said “better I need to get them for her than her not need them” I changed the subject. Now, where does one suggest a topic (evil grin)

    • The funny thing is, the pads wall was the easiest part of the department. Having been plenty exposed to all that good stuff with five females in the house, I had no issues stocking any of it. Now, buying the stuff would be another issue….

      And hey, go for it! Even Bored people are more than welcome to hit me up with an idea (via the official contact form, of course)…

  7. gentlestitches says:

    I enjoyed the pics of this prompt. Umm did the guy who was ductaped give his permission? I thought perhaps it was art but Shane suggested he had annoyed someone?

  8. Mental Mama says:

    Interestingly enough I don’t think I have ever sent a man, boyfriend or husband, out to get feminine hygiene supplies for me. And now I don’t need them which is awesome. But it simply boggles the mind how many different products there are available for taking care of your cooch.

    • You know what cracked me up… Back then, Always pads had little symbols on the cases they came in to help match the products up for easy stocking. I recall they had the four suits from a deck of cards, and a few other shapes that looked like they came out of a box of Lucky Charms. I don’t think that’s the case anymore… but it showed that even then, there were way too damn many rag products…

      • Mental Mama says:

        Amen brother, amen. Guys have it easy. You wash your hair, you wash your butt, you may or may not shave your face, deodorant, maybe cologne. That’s pretty well it. At no point in your lives are you ever expected to bleed for 7 days straight without dying from it. Lucky bastards.

  9. reocochran says:

    I had 2 brothers but not sure they would have pushed me. E.S. they may have locked me out of the house. 🙂

  10. reocochran says:

    I forgot to say I always tease guys named Mike that they must like everything since, “Mikey will eat anything!” I think it was quite amusing how you had such fun in the women’s personal care products section.

  11. hellofilly says:

    I was so happy to read this on Friday, but was not happy to not be able to respond until now!

    Ok, I’ll say WTG on the ‘stepping outside the comfort zone’ challenge. You did things that if I were in your shoes would have struggled doing, that’s for sure.

    BTW, I think I blushed about a gazillion times reading this post, but whatever! I think that is why I couldn’t ever work in that department! LOL

    Hugs and awesome post! 🙂

    • Those things don’t scare me! On the rare occasions I was able to procure the bathroom for my own needs back in the day, the backs of tampoon boxes were one of my favorite bits of reading material. I consider myself to be a self-taught expert on toxic shock syndrome…

  12. Pingback: Father-Daughter Shopping | jennsmidlifecrisis

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