Community Service

I’ve been there two days and half the people there want me DEAD. No baloney. Why, pray tell? Because I’m there to work. So are some of the others involved, don’t get me off on the wrong foot. I’m giving you a blow-by-blow on some real bullshit that has been going on at my particular second hand store backed by the Catholic Church. Oh, second hand stores are like the Switzerland of junk shops. Everyone is welcome. When nailed by a religious zealot as I stock book shelves, my thirty five years as a Phone man in Hollywood comes in handy. I use the, “Hang on, I have to go to my truck and get a component.” Except now, I use the ‘back room’ instead of my Pac Bell van.

Dave, the fellow who runs the place is a nice guy. It’s not his fault he inherited a bunch of bed-wetting cave trolls handling his store. All the workers I’ve met are cool. It’s the ones I haven’t I’m ready to rock and roll with. Let’s take the electronics area. The entire facility used to be a meat processing plant back in the 1930’s, so all the door ways are huge metal affairs about ten inches thick and massive. You don’t have to worry about most of them. Giant black trash bags filled to literally bursting block them. Along with boxes of everything that starts with an ‘A’. Like, a TV, a metal chest, a tire. Get the picture? I’d love to wreck out the metal curved raceway overhead that was used to roll along halves of beef or entire hogs. Big black bolts holding it all off the ceiling above. Fucking sweet!

Back to these phantom employees. These are paid people. Not the flotsam and jetsam trash like myself and others doing community service to work off debts to society. Being a tree house criminal ranks me like the bank robbers and safe crackers in the big prisons. Next are shop lifters, kids who cut school, stuff like that. We tend to try to associate with the riff raff mingled amongst us at the morning meeting. You know, the drunk drivers, wife beaters, women who left kids locked in the car while in the casino, child molesters who are usually doing truck loading, and stay away from the general public work. Let’s cut to the chase on what really has me on the warpath. Books…

Yep, my favorite thing in the world. Books. Not just any books. Get real. Shit fuck books are anything in paper back or soft bound. Even the ones you can’t find in hardbound. After a few years of taking up valuable space you spot it and sit down to enjoy it again. The piece of crap falls apart in your hands. Cheap pathetic glue and a zero binding. No thanks. Like buying a tool. Get something that will last.

So, back to the books at this store I’m working in. I’d been in it prior to my community service deal. After seeing how pathetic the book selections were, I wrote it off. It’s in a primo location. Middle of downtown, kitty corner from the tiny four plex theater (Hot Dogs a buck!). When early, I can get a good parking spot for the show right in front of the store. So I won’t feel guilty, I always buy something to put in my truck before walking across the street to the show. Usually sans a book. Next choice, something for my wife Pat. Once I bought her something at another store I had donated a few weeks prior. What a retard. Oh, the books…

To dust mopping the floor before opening, I have to find the dust mop. A big, three-foot-wide deal. Someone says it’s in the book area under the stairs. I’m told by Mr. Navy, Mike, I think, how to find it. The store rambles since it was a factory. It has a second story, too. Another time on the second floor. I finally find the book area and my mop. I don’t mop right away though. I’m looking past a yellow ‘Keep Out’ tape at books. Real books. Not the shelf after shelf after shelf of paper backs and crapola books taking up the rest of the shelves on the sale floor. Real pieces of shit. Novels. Any novel sucks ass. I rank fiction just under. Sort of like syphilis, then, down a bit, the crabs. Not under the stairs. I’m looking at ten books I want to buy right off the bat. Hey, it’s the best thing about the joint. You get first shot at the loot.

The first book is a hard bound on knots and weaving. Hard bound. 12″ by 12″. Like new. Inside the cover. Price is from the factory, $39 bucks. Next book I pick up, “The History of Railroad Roundhouses”. HOLY SHIT! I say to myself, “Why in the fuck are these jewels hidden way the hell back here?” It’s a RAIL ROAD TOWN ASSHOLE MR HIDE AWAY. Why aren’t the next bunch of railroad books I pull out on a nice display? Railroad aficionados come from all over the world to photograph the Tehachapi Loop. Really long trains pass each other on it. It rises 18 foot in track height difference from one end to the other. A big deal in railroading. And they think their going to put a bullet train next to it/. Better off trying to inflate a dead whale dick pal. I find more and more FANTASTIC books.

I have a talk with my boss and his associate. They have no clue about the books. They’re busy running the rest of the store and all its fiefdoms. Oh yeah. Pathetic. The knick knack broad controls her ‘area’. Ditto for the used clothing gals. One does pants. The other shirts. Another, dresses and such. Get the picture. You’re not to step foot in these sacred realms. Even if they’re not in the store, they’re to be held sacred. Fuck that. My first day, I had all these electronics tested and on display by one o’clock. After that, it was on some furniture runs. Donation runs are the best. Especially now that I’m using my daughter Tegan’s dump truck to get around. It’s usually in Boulder, Colorado. We still make rock runs to the old place so she’s letting me use it for a couple more months.

So, we have a meeting. Now, these are good, honest, hard-working people that are there to help the church. I’m not talking about them at all. It’s this book deal that has me steamed. I know what’s going on, so I lay it down to them slow and to the point. First step in what is going down? STEP ONE: The book guy is like a fence. He’s stockpiling the good books by jamming the book shelves on the floor with turds, thus making a need to move excess books to the Bakersfield store. I find out about this other store in our little gab fest. A mention is made of the two flats of books in the back alleyway that will be picked up Monday.

Huh? Two flats? I ask if I can check them out. Oh yeah. Five foot high piled boxes of books wrapped in plastic wrap. I slit the plastic off the top and pop open a cardboard box a TV could fit in. I lift out four books. I bought all four books. Now I’m really steamed. I could have been buying these beauties for MONTHS! I ask my boss how long this has been going on. Since he’s been there. Six years. He’s always left the people at the store alone to run their areas.

Oh man, not any more pal. While we’re looking at the stacked books. Mr. Electonic had come into work. He’s furious. “Who has been in my area?” I tell my bosses I’ll handle it. I put out my hand and say a friendly, “Hi, Kim here!” He doesn’t shake my hand. Cool! Now I can be an asshole. I wonder if we can discuss it in his shop area inside. I follow him to his three tables in a row area, formerly covered by electronics of all kinds. Now you can eat your lunch and read a paper on it. As this dough boy in his forties starts to straighten me out, I beat him to the punch. “Hey buddie, save your breath. The boss told me to pick a spot to straighten out so I did. If you don’t like it, tough titty in the big city!” I smile and let him take the floor. He storms out of the store. One down.

Next at bat will be book boy. He’s to come in tomorrow at ten a.m. I’ll be at the store at seven a.m. I’ve been given permission to tear apart the boxes and pick out the good books. I figured I could make a lot of book shelf room in the main sales room by an old ploy taught me by the King of Book stores, Big AL of Hollywood’s, BOOK CITY. You take some fancy bow string, wrap five paper backs together using the string, then price them at five for a dollar. I did thirty of them by two p.m. We closed at three. In one hour we sold six of them. I placed them all over the store. Especially love novels in the women’s clothing section. In the shelves underneath my new displays, I boxed those piece of shit pocket books in plastic tubs. Then I’m going to put those books onto the flats for Bakersfield, getting us to STEP TWO: Why this is going on. MONEY.

Someone at the Bakersfield end is moving these books to a book store pal or another vendor. Hell, maybe to increase the profits at the partner store. Who knows? Right now that is. I’ll know a lot more by this time Monday. Tomorrow morning, I intend to have the under stair area cleared out and books on the newly emptied shelves. By ten. Then, its “HI Bookboy, I’m Kim!” I figure I’ll be seeing someone from Bakersfield real soon. Let the games begin…

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