I had to make a phone call today to the town of Hawthorne, California â€“ yes, to the town itself. The woman who acted as the town's agent was disappointed to talk to me. I'm shutting down a store in a famous chain there.
That's my new gig â€“ I'm the bad guy who comes and shuts down your favorite store, making a few more people jobless. Well, that's not quite true. I'm the faceless guy at the corporation who shuts down your favorite store, making a few more people jobless from afar. Wait. That's not quite accurate either. It's a company that shuts down stores for other companies. I work for a company you never heard of, that the big, famous-but-faceless corporations hire to do their dirty work, shutting down your favorite store and making a few more people jobless. Hold on a minute â€“ I'm still not being honest. Here's my real gig. I'm temping â€“ working for a temp agency to provide labor for a company you never heard of that does the dirty work for a company you have heard of because they want to shut down your favorite store and make a few more people jobless. I do this hundreds of times, because corporations want to shut down hundreds of stores at once.
Yeah, I've been unemployed since June and now I'm underemployed, playing Spanky for the man. I work in a cubicle right near the guy whose job it is to call services they're hiring to do lots of the local store-closing stuff, and yell at them. He yells at the newspaper advertising salespeople, he yells at the guys who make sandwich board signs for places you're not allowed to post an huge ugly black-and-red sign (STORE CLOSING!!! EVERYTHING must GO!!!!" â€“ those signs pose sort of a Zen Koan â€“ how can we make every word stand out more than every other word?) but they can't stop you from turning people into signs, he yells at the people walk with the sandwich boards – who are signs. When I first met him, my thought was, "Gee, it's been a long time since I've seen Repo Man." My second thought, naturally, was a daydream where I sneered, "You guys are Liquidators!" and then proceeded to crack open and pour a beer on their floor.
My job is to help the guy whose job it is to find out all the different laws for conducting store closing sales, which is interesting, because most stores don't bother to find out if there are laws, and so most towns have no idea what to do if you call. More than once, someone didn't know where the form was because nobody had ever asked for it before. Most places, you're supposed to get a license. It's to keep people from pretending to go out of business but not going out of business. That doesn't stop them, and most places, like I say, don't know what to do if you call. I try to talk them through it â€“ suggesting what such a form might ask for, or offering just to send a letter that covers all the points in the statute. Some are grateful, some don't care and just refuse to solve it or let me solve it. Those people belie pleasure through their voices when they have let me know they don't work and I can't make them work. Ah, well, we don't really care â€“ we're liquidators. We just need to write down that you wouldn't help and cover our collective liquidating butt.
Remember, I'm doing all this as a temp. I do all this amoral stuff and I'm not even in their club. The cool guys who yell at signmakers and drink, I don't know, probably cheap Scotch â€“ or rye, every night with each other after a good but exhausting day of closing stores, do not bond with me.
I'm telling you all this in the hopes that maybe somebody, somewhere will read this and appreciate their own job more.
BoxJam is a contributing columnist for Comixpedia.