Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Stickboy and Mustache Guy

No one expects their first job to last forever, but most people probably expect that it will last longer than three hours. Not for me, though. My first job at Shaw's Furniture in bustling downtown Middleboro lasted all of three hours, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on a single Saturday morning.

I wasn't even fired. At the end of the day, I was given a check for $12, and I was never asked to come back.

Even though the job only lasted for three hours, the morning felt like it lasted forever. I've had jobs that have lasted for months, even years, that felt like they flew by faster than my time at Shaw's furniture.

The major factor holding me back from a successful career in a furniture showroom? Apparently, I was expected to help make furniture deliveries. At the age of 14 and weighing all of 125 pounds, this was probably not the type of job that would pop up in the top 100 if I were to have taken a career placement test. Being tall and gangly, about the only advantage I had in the furniture moving business was that I was so skinny, I probably could have squeezed myself around some pretty tight corners. I would have had to have been carrying something pretty light, but I'm pretty sure I could have fit through some pretty small openings.

So I show up at Shaw's Furniture, 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning and meet Mr. Shaw, who looks like a slightly more severe version on Tom Bosley on Happy Days, sweater vest and all. For my first task, me and the store's truck driver will be delivering a mattress and box spring to a home in Lakeville. Okay. Now my co-worker is an older guy. Maybe as old as 25. And he freakin' works for a living. Now he wasn't exactly a huge guy, but he looked like he could move furniture. And he had a mustache. So we drive to Lakeville and I'm pretty sure we don't talk much. I mean the guy has a mustache and works for a living and I'm just a kid that my parents are trying to get out of the house on a Saturday morning.

So we get to the house in Lakeville to deliver the mattress and boxspring, Stickboy and Mustache Guy. So do we make two trips, each of us carrying an end of the mattress and then repeating the process with the box spring? Hell no! Mustache Guy grabs the box spring and points me in the direction of the mattress. Now at the time, I didn't really realize, because I didn't want to be lifting anything on my own, but mattresses are a hell of a lot more of a pain in the ass to move than box springs. So MG goes through the door first, whistling right along with the boxspring, while I'm huffing along behind with the mattress, struggling mightily to avoid hitting lamps, pets, or small children.

Somehow, I managed to get the mattress in the door and safely though a doorway or two. The bedroom had to have been somewhere nearby. No such luck. MG was heading down the basement stairs. I was taking the mattress down a flight of stairs. Mustering what little strength was left in my bony body, I safely finagled the mattress to the bottom of the stairs with a minimum of damage to both the plaster walls and my spine.

Me and MG head back to the furniture store, where I spend the remainder of the day performing a series of fairly meaningless and random acts. I didn't help any customers, but this was due to the fact that no customers actually came through the door on that Saturday morning. Even in the days before the big box furniture stores with giant screen movie theaters, Shaw's didn't exactly have a leg up on the competition. Egger's was the undisputed king of the Middleboro furniture stores and Kahian's was able to slice out a nice little business for itself on the west side of town.

This left me with a Saturday morning with Mr. Shaw where I was charged with filling his coffee cup with water so he could moisten stamps. I was also sent down to the basement of the store to find a box for a piece of stereo equipment. I succeeded in getting the coffee cup filled with water but failed miserably on my stereo box quest. MG had to bail me out on that one. It didn't help that the basement looked like it had been ransacked by looters, but MG was able to climb over a small mountain of overturned ottomans and find the box balancing precariously on top of a case of knockoff Tiffany Lamps.

The short remainder of my morning was spent ducking in and out of the rows of recliners and dinette sets with a feather duster. At noon, I took my $12 check from Mr. Shaw, cashed it at Middleboro Savings Bank (the Piper People) and went to buy a Blue Oyster Cult live cassette at Benny's. And I never saw Mustache Guy again.


Anonymous Scudder said...

This was hysterical! I went through the same thing, except I spent the entire summer at Egger's! I swear the Mustache guy moonlighted at Egger's as well!

2:10 PM  

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