Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Job Journal: Toys R Us

The United States workforce is represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: those who plan on keeping their job for the long haul, and those who are biding their time before becoming the Next Big Thing. These are stories from the second group.

Job: Cashier/Wheel World associate at Toys R Us, Clarksville TN
Duration: 3 months, both times
Year: 1999, 2000

This was my first-ever job. I got it the summer after my freshman year of college. My parents had never really encouraged me to get a summer or after-school job, for which I think I'm grateful. I certainly liked all my summers up to this point. I asked mom later why they never made me get a job, to which she said something along the lines of "it sucks and we wanted you to enjoy yourself for as long as possible." Fair enough.

I don't remember what motivated me to start working that summer. I think it just seemed like it was time. I had applied at a few places I thought I might enjoy: the Sound Shop in our mall, bookstores, things like that. These were all places I liked as a customer, so naturally working there would be fun right? Which incidentally is why I'm an actor now. I also loved Toys R Us.

That might be a bit of an understatement.

My hometown didn't have a Toys R Us for a long time. When I was young, we would drive to Nashville every few months and go to Showbiz Pizza and Toys R Us. I am too inexperienced a writer to describe to you the joy I felt on these trips. I remember marveling at the walls of strange toys, characters and entire worlds I'd never seen before. I remember the Millennium Falcon, out of the box, high up in the action figure aisle. Amazing.

So this was a natural target for me. They needed a cashier, and a cashier they got. After I was hired, I came in on a Friday afternoon for training on the register. Once I got it all down, the person training me walked away and left me to fend for myself. What I thought would be a quick few hours turned into a full eight hour shift on my feet. I had never stood for that long in my life. I don't think I ate dinner. I came home in shock. The MTV Movie Awards were on. It was the year Jim Carrey did that weird Jim Morrison thing.

The assistant manager had written down my schedule for the next week for me. I wasn't due in again til Sunday, so I was relieved to have Saturday to recover from my first ever day of standing for no reason. I was accustomed at this time to sleeping in until noon or so. The phone rang shortly after 10 AM, and mom came in and said it was for me. It was the store manager. "You're scheduled to open the store today. Are you going to make it in?"

Um, what? "Oh, Libby told me I wasn't coming in until tomorrow."

"Well, you're on the schedule for today. Come in as soon as you can and we'll show you how to read the schedule, OK friend?"

Fantastic first impression.

In future posts I'll tell you about my second summer here, how much I loved working at 3 AM, and my skill at finding deeply existential reasons to dislike any day job.

Colin Fisher is a lot of things to a lot of people, but mostly he's just an actor and writer.

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