Monday, February 5, 2018

Closing Time-Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End

Once again, the unthinkable has happened.

The company where I am (well, WAS) a manager opted not to renew our store’s ten year lease. A few months short of a decade with this company, I find myself once again facing the challenge of looking for a new job.

The day I learned about the store closing, I was in NYC seeing the Christmas windows at Saks and Macy's, having lunch, doing some shopping, and was having a drink before getting on the train to come home. My phone rang and I got a message to call someone in Human Resources. Like the phone call I got when working at Wrinkle City, it’s never good when someone from HR wants you. True to form, I was told about my store and many others that would be closing in 45 Days. Besides it sucking to end the day like that, I left my only gloves on the seat in the bar. My hands stayed cold for weeks.

My store director and I planned the closing like the invasion of Normandy. We kept it under wraps until the official signs announcing the closing arrived the week after New Years. We told our clients, and directed them to our other locations. We packed supplies to be re-allocated to other stores on our downtime. We followed the company guidelines, and questioned all the things that the corporate office forgot about. We were good. Damn good, and finished a full day and a half ahead of the closing timeline. If we pushed a little harder, we could have closed even earlier than that. But for what? To be out of work a day earlier? So it sucks. Big time. And yes, I'm pouting right now, which only wine and chocolate makes better.

Anyway, it's been five days since closing. Five days to reflect on what I'll miss and what I won't:

First of all, I'll miss the people I've worked with over the years. OK, MOST of them. A few weren't cut out for retail. A couple were downright lazy. One even had a "peculiar" body odor, but heck, we were desperate one holiday season and needed bodies to cover night shifts.  Then there was the store director who quit the day before Black Friday-yeah, he'll never get a Christmas card from me. EVER. But the team we put together especially in the last 18 months or so was stellar.  I even got to check off a Bucket List item with one of them.

I'll miss some of our customers, like Janey, and Carmen and crazy Sivia, my Orthodox Gilda Radner who would actually sneak in on high holy days just to pay her credit card bill. I'm glad to be rid of the pigs, I mean, clients, who left clothes stained with makeup, inside out and on the fitting room floors for us to clean up. The ones who did it every stinking week, and never bought anything. I won't miss the people who expected us to take back clothes they wore most recently in "Saturday Night Fever" days because they lost weight, or gained it, or thought we gave lifetime warranties. And I can breathe easier knowing that I won't have the shoplifters, stolen identity thieves, and other deviants that could cure cancer if they put their minds to doing something legal.

I will miss the ever-changing seasons, the excitement of roll-outs and seeing new styles and trends. I won't miss working holidays, clopens (closing late at night, then coming back to open early the next morning), the summer of the mall bomb threats nor the security company calls at crazy hours.

True story: Thanksgiving night (the same year that store director quit), the security company woke me up to tell me that our store had been broken into. I drove like a mad woman 35 minutes to get to a store guarded with police like Fort Knox. Reviewing the security cameras revealed that a woman with a baby in a stroller was not happy that we opted not to open that night, and shook the doors SO LONG AND SO HARD that she broke the rod that secured the door through the floor. One more hard pull popped the lock. Thirteen people went into the dark store that night with the alarm blasting only to be stopped as they were leaving by mall security and the local police department. One guy actually told the cops that he thought "all the help was in the back on break".  And you wonder why I won't miss holidays and some customers.  

As organized as I was with closing our store, I have now created chaos at home. It's been a pattern over the last three job losses. When I was RIF'ed at the retirement community, I went home and immediately started moving furniture around in every room. Jobless after Superstorm Sandy, I had a floor full of soggy furniture and belongings to deal with-albeit not my own doing. Still, I gave away a nice baby grand piano that wasn't damaged for no real reason. This week, with severance paperwork signed, sealed and delivered, I've filled boxes with stuff to donate, to toss, to take to that new place to live...wherever that might be.There are sticky notes on every door in every room indicating what needs to be done.

I knew when I wrote my last blog that doors would be closing, and this was one of them. Selling this bear of a house is another big door. Although I've read that these life changes can cause people to actually die, I'm more concerned that Cosmopolitan magazine says stress causes acne as well as developing cortisol which turns into belly fat. I do not want to die with acne and pants that won't button. I have a sticky note on my closet door to that fact.

In "You've Got Mail" ShopGirl sent an e-mail to NY152 about her store closing. How I feel is not as dramatic as what she says, but it's close:

As a friend sent me at Christmas: Upward.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Long and Winding Road That Leads to Your Door

History was never my favorite subject in high school. I recall failing a test freshman year when I tried to pass off a line from Cool Hand Luke as something to do with the Monroe Doctrine. Unfortunately, “What we have here is a failure to communicate” didn’t fool my teacher.

My ancestry was as vague to me as the Monroe Doctrine. It wasn’t until my oldest started looking at colleges that I thought about delving deeper into my lineage. Since winning a scholarship  for making a suit out of duct tape seemed futile, I looked into ones that he might get-like the Shamrock Irish Heritage Contest for my Mom’s side of the family, or the Sons of Italy Foundation Grant for my Dad’s. Or one I really wanted him to get-a Native American scholarship.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

'Cause Baby You're A Firework. Come On Show Them What You're Worth

Five years ago today, I stood in a hospital room strewn with used syringes, rubber gloves and other medical waste, looking at the lifeless body of the man that I shared a life with for over 30 years. I should have been thinking of family, love and loss.  Instead, my first thought was, "Wow, I'm a widow now." Pretty pathetic in retrospect, and when Wingman referred to me just before I left him as "The Bitch", probably not too far off the mark.

But in time-warped speed just a half hour before that, I had already talked to the hospital twice, woken son #3 up to go over to the hospital with me, called Wingman's brother on the way, fought with a gimpy legged night watchman who wouldn't let us in the hospital, and finally took "that meeting" in a small private room where the doctor told my son and I that they did everything possible, but unfortunately (UNFORTUNATELY???) Wingman had passed. My brain was filled with what to do, who to call, and what was coming next.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

But She Use To Have A Carefree Mind Of Her Own, With A Devilish Look In Her Eye

The first time I went out with Wingman, he remarked about how much I reminded him of his mother.  When we finally met, I just didn't see it: she was a tall, chain-smoking blonde, with a Lauren Bacall-esque voice, while I considered myself just an average size brunette with no distinguishable qualities.

She and I began our own relationship with stories about our lives, and she won every round of "Can You Top This". At 10 years old, she helped deliver her brother when her mother went into labor at home. Later, her alcoholic mother walked out on the family and was never seen or heard from again, so she dropped out of school to help. At 19, she and her husband eloped, and thought no one knew.  A photographer however, took a picture of them outside City Hall which became the cover of the afternoon edition of the NY World Telegram. (Oops.) A couple of years later, her very pregnant self drove her father and his equally pregnant girlfriend to City Hall in Newark to MAKE them get married.  Her half-brother was born a week after Wingman. Mouth dropping stuff that urban legends are made of.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Be Our Guest, Be Our Guest, Put Our Service To The Test

This week is/would be/should be my 35th wedding anniversary.  It's an anniversary that, with the boys all grown, I should be with the man I was destined to grow old with, exploring someplace romantic or at the very least having a romantic dinner.  We should be reminiscing about the good times and the bad and what made our marriage strong enough to get to where we are now. I'm angry and sad and extremely jealous because so many of my other friends are doing exactly that.

 I needed to channel my anger in a positive way. And I'm doing it with diamonds. Baseball diamonds that is.

Friday, May 12, 2017

I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt

Wingman use to call me many things. Obstinate. Overcritical. Certainly bitchy. I even recall on our wedding day that he called me "beautiful". But that was a one-time happening, and I don't recall him ever crooning Eric Clapton"s "You Look Wonderful Tonight" after that. So it comes as no surprise that he never called me "sexy".

And I get it.  When I went to school in NYC, a couple of my friends were stopped by Eileen Ford and asked to come to her agency to model.  They were cute, and one was even, in an exotic way, sexy even back then.  But not me. I was and always will be, fine with how I look.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Won't Get Fooled Again

 I would consider myself a skeptic. When the boys were younger and said they were too sick to go to school, for the most part I didn't believe them and packed them off. And most of the time I was right...except for one missed case of Pneumonia that I recall with son #2. At work, the people that SWEAR that they only EVER hand wash their jeans and don't know HOW they could POSSIBLY have ripped both knees simultaneously, get met with the glare-over-the-glasses look of  the mother who has heard that BS before as I pack them off with the name of the tailor upstairs that can patch them.

But it's surprised me that I've had the proverbial wool-pulled-over-my-eyes this year more than once and in more ways than one. From being told "You'll be comfortable for life when this deal goes through" to being asked "want to go to a game? to the disappointment of  hearing "I'll call you later" and not, has had me doubting my own judgement.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cover It With Chocolate And A Miracle Or Two

Every fall I go to a farm market and buy a big bag of hot cherry peppers to stuff.  It was my aunt's recipe, and for years, they were a staple for Wingman as he watched Sunday football games. The recipe is memorable for more than the burning sensation from the oil that stays on my hands for days after cutting and removing the seeds. Every time I make them, it takes me back to a candy company and an air traffic controller's strike.

I was working in retail for six years when my old candy buyer phoned me about a job opportunity in the wholesale field.  Two weeks after my only interview and armed with a Willie Loman suitcase, a road map and some samples, I was out selling chocolates.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Just Sit Right Back And You'll Hear A Tale, A Tale Of A Fateful Trip

Last Saturday, as most of the shore area was making preparations for Hurricane Hermine, I was at a friend's mother's funeral Mass. She lived a good long life, and the church was filled with a mix of family and friends. Afterwards, everyone mingled on the front steps, because after all, it's always at weddings and funerals that you get to catch up with the people you seldom see.There, I saw a couple I haven't talked to in over a decade. We met on a cruise ship in 2001, run by our mutual friend.  The cruise would be Wingman's and my first (and last) cruise together because of, what else-a hurricane.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

If You Believe In Forever, Then Life Is Just A One-night Stand

Today is the fourth anniversary of Wingman's death. Four years. 1461 days. Time has passed both like the speed of light yet like watching paint dry.

The night he died, I went to the hospital with a decaf coffee and a buttered Kaiser roll. Wingman had regained enough of his memory after brain surgery to remember commuting to NYC for his film editing job. The Kaiser roll was for "the bus".

He didn't know that we (his brother, our youngest son and myself) had arranged to have him moved to another hospital the following morning. He was sitting in a chair when I arrived-eating mashed potatoes with chocolate pudding that he said was gravy. Our conversation was comical because threads of his memory were coming back like Dumbledore's Pensieve. He talked about climbing a mountain in Canada. He said he spent the day playing Army in the back yard and complained that he had to be the German because his Jewish school friend refused to.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

When A Man Loves A Woman

Like most young women, I dreamed about meeting my Prince Charming who would sweep me off my feet and marry me. Of course, he would propose with a diamond ring befitting his princess. I had mine all picked out. A heart-shaped diamond in a plain white gold band (because I wasn't savvy enough yet to want platinum).

When I met Wingman, my list of suit-wearing, corporate job holding requirements went right out the window because he was in a band. But that didn't stop me from wanting that ring.  As time went on and friend after friend got engaged and married, I got more and more agitated.  When was it going to happen to me?

Closing Time-Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End

Once again, the unthinkable has happened. The company where I am (well, WAS) a manager opted not to renew our store’s ten year leas...