Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pet Store-ies!

Apologies for the pun in the title, but in my defense, I didn't come up with it myself. About 432 years ago (give or take), I asked on Facebook what else I should write about here. One of the suggestions was stories from my pet store employment days, and someone responded with that.

I've worked at 2 major chain pet stores in my life. I was at the first chain for about a year and a half in Colorado, and the second chain for about a year in Washington. At the first chain, there was a LOT of drama. Oh dear god the drama. It was like being in middle school, but wearing a uniform covered in various animals' pee and/or poop, and getting a paycheck for your suffering. I was 22-23 when I worked there.

The Operations Manager there was a girl just a little younger than me, who took smoke breaks as often as possible and had a baby with her common-law husband - she complained about him constantly, broke up with him regularly, and I know at least a couple of us suspected him of physically abusing her but she would never admit it. She would still sometimes go to "raves" with another girl who worked there (also a little younger than me, married, 2 kids).

This was the kind of girl I'd heard existed in high schools, but that I don't remember actually knowing personally. She was nice to people, and acted like we were friends. I even had her and her baby over to my home once, and would take smoke breaks with her so we could chat. (I learned quickly in retail that if I wanted to actually take breaks, I had to pretend to be a smoker and bond with my chimney managers.)

Another girl who worked there had Bitch Face. Not Bitchy Resting Face - just Bitch Face. It was rare to get a real smile from her that made her look like for at least that moment she did not, in fact, want to kill you and everyone around you and set your corpses on fire for no reason. There's a theme going here - this girl was also younger than me and had a young child. She and I were both shift managers and "specialists" for different departments. She apparently took this to mean we were in competition for the General Manager's affections. Maybe the Ops Manager thought I was after her job, too, because these two girls had it out for me.

At some point, I thought I'd won over Bitch Face. We hung out outside of work and I made her laugh a few times, and we seemed to be getting along instead of her just glowering at me every time we passed, or snapping if I asked her for any sort of help at work. Progress!


One minute I was cheerfully cleaning hamster cages; the next I discovered there was a rumor around the store that I'd slept with one of our stock guys. Why? Because I'd been the closing manager one night. There were 2 guys on my closing shift. One of them was a high school student working part-time, so as soon as I had his register closed, I sent him home. There was still cleaning to be done, but I figured I was being nice. The stock guy was still mopping, and I had the rest of the safe count to finish up.

The high school guy mentioned that the next day to one of those girls - I still don't know which one was primarily responsible - and next thing I knew, everyone thought I'd done that so that the stock boy and I could bonk in the store. I was called in for a chat with the GM and had to defend myself, and after that we always had to lock up the store with at least 2 employees present with the closing manager. Awesome. Now people couldn't go home until everyone was done with their closing duties, and somehow this was my fault. I was popular.

Problem 2: I was married at the time. Now I was getting a reputation not only as a dirty girl who slept with her coworkers in the store, but also as a liar and a cheater. Fantastic. Just what I wanted.

Problem 3: the Merch Manager was a pervo guy about my age (yeah, this chain hires young) who thought that since I had (allegedly) slept with the stock boy, now he could openly leer at me, make suggestive comments, et cetera. At the time I didn't have the guts or the know-how to point out he was sexually harassing me and make it stop. I put up with it.

At a holiday dinner, I was chatting with the girl next to me and somehow we got on the topic of uncomfortable bras, I think it was. Bitch Face had apparently been eavesdropping and announced loudly, "GOD, Peanut, why does EVERY conversation end up being about your BOOBS? YOU HAVE HUGE BOOBS. LOOK AT HER BOOBS." I remember staring at her, literally open-mouthed, flustered and sort of half-laughing awkwardly because seriously did that really just come out of her mouth what the fucking fuck?

Our GM moved to another store, and took Bitch Face with her. I stayed behind with Ops Manager, but soon learned that the two were still backstabbing me by calling each other and gossiping/making things up/spreading these things. It shouldn't surprise you to learn that the next rumor involved me and the Merch Manager. Later we hired a lesbian stocker, and it would seem I had a thing for her as well - in fact, when she started dating one of our other employees (which was a scandal of its own because the stock girl was in her late 20s and the other girl was still in high school), I found myself accused by the younger girl of trying to steal her girlfriend... all based on things she'd heard from Ops Manager or Bitch Face.

I was fed up. We'd hired a new guy to work in our fish department, and he was adorable. About 19 or 20, I believe, and fit and cute. Ops Manager, a fish fanatic herself, developed an immediate and obvious crush. She was completely enamored, even though I think she and her guy were back together at that point.

I wasn't very good in the fish department, so I often had to ask him questions. We closed together a few times and became friends - close enough that he confessed to me one night that he's gay. I don't remember how he broached it or exactly what I said, but I do remember we were in the office counting out the safe and he was my witness for that. I remember just kind of looking at him and saying something like "okay," and then continuing to count.

After we hung out a couple of times, I realized I was getting super dirty looks from Ops Manager all the time. I knew what was coming. I warned my friend, and we decided to get her back. We began leaving work together holding hands, talking about going shopping together or seeing movies together in front of her, that sort of thing. Steam was practically coming from her ears. SEETHING is the only word for how she reacted when we did these things.

Sure enough, I heard from my former GM, now at the new store, that she heard from Bitch Face, who heard from Ops Manager (are you lost yet?) that I was bonking the new fish specialist guy. Just a bonk fest. Every day. All over each other. MAN, I was such a cheating slutty slut-slut.

Once we were sure it had been passed around, my lovely friend "came out" to the Ops Manager. She never apologized to either one of us (especially not to me, that's for sure), but she seemed a little sheepish for a few days afterward. Tiny victories, people. Tiny, tiny victories.

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