Jobs, Part 5: Stocker/Cashier, Revco

Stocker/Cashier at Revco: As I mentioned in my previous Jobs entry, my family moved to Chagrin Falls in 1990. Well, by 1993, Figgie International, which had relocated my Dad to Cleveland, was in trouble. The owner, Harry Figgie, Jr., had gotten ill and turned over the day-to-day operations to his son, Harry Figgie III. In the span of a few years, the company went from being fiscally healthy to selling off divisions left and right. Around this time, my Dad informed us he was looking for a new job, which would probably involve relocating again. Chicago was mentioned, which seemed scary at the time because I had yet to visit and was only familiar with Chicago because of The Blues Brothers and The Fugitive, and the last thing I wanted to do was be accused of a crime, falsely or not, and have to make a run for it.

Eventually, my Dad decided upon a return to Buffalo, which made everyone in the family happy, but the timing ended up being a bit awkward. Before my sister was done with the school year, our Chagrin Falls home was put up on the market and quickly sold, which led to my Mom renting an apartment in downtown Chagrin Falls while my sister finished her last month of school and my Dad moved to Buffalo into the new home they had bought.

The oddball part of this was that the apartment had been paid through the Summer, and since my Mom and sister would be heading back to Buffalo as soon as the school year was up, that meant the apartment would be vacant for June, July and August. As I finished the Spring semester of my Sophomore year at BGSU, I moved into the apartment and spent most of May with my Mom and sis, which may not sound bad except it was a two-bedroom, no air-conditioning apartment, and since my Mom and sis already occupied the two bedrooms, I had to improvise.

The apartment was, in reality, the second floor of an old house, and the stairs leading from the first floor back door to the second floor hallway with a slanted roof which became my temporary bedroom. Essentially, I lived under the slant, with a bed sheet as my wall. As a twenty year-old, this was acceptable. Today, I would have just moved to Buffalo. But back then, two things kept me in Chagrin Falls – having the apartment to myself for three months and a Summer job at the Revco drugstore.

I got the job at Revco because my Mom was working there part-time during the Spring to occupy her time while waiting for my sister to finish the school year. Since I already had an in for an easy Summer job, I took a job stocking shelves and working the register in the liquor department. It wasn’t that much different than the Heinen’s job, only on a smaller scale. One aspect I enjoyed was dealing with the magazines salesperson each week, because it meant I could arrange the magazines on the rack the way I wanted, which meant putting all the music magazines up front.

There are two stories worth sharing about my time at Revco. The first is that, since this was a newly acquired and remodeled location, the company decided to shoot some internal promotional videos on site. The kinds of things where a guy in a suit walks around the store spouting talking points and sales figures while fake people shop and pay no attention. As store employees, we got to play the part of the staff, which meant we got to interact with special celebrity guest Mary Lou Retton (if you don’t know who she is, just click the link). In one scene, I played the part of the cashier while Mary Lou purchased products while talking to the camera about customer service or something. I think my interaction off camera lasted about a second, but from what I remember she was pleasant to work with.

The second story involves some criminal activity, but I believe the statute of limitations has passed so I’m going to tell it. In August, a week or so before I was to return to school at BGSU, a massive thunderstorm swept through the area with a flash flood that soaked Chagrin Falls. When we went into work the next day, we found water leaking in through the roof all over the store. The basement, which had been used for back stock storage because of a lack of storage space in the rear of the store, was flooded with several feet of standing water.

After using a pump to drain the water out of the basement, I was tasked with creating an inventory of all the water damaged goods. Now, included in this job was access to the locked liquor supply room, a small room no more than ten feet by ten feet, but stacked floor to ceiling with bottles of booze. I’m talking the good stuff sold only by licensed State vendors, not the watered down stuff you can find in any grocery store.

My job, unbelievable as it sounds, was to document every bottle that water touched, crack it open and dump it down a drain, tossing all the empty bottles into the trash. About five seconds into this, realized I had essentially walked into college party nirvana. So, instead I backed my car up to the rear door and started loading my trunk up with water-damaged bottles of Jim Beam, Bacardi and Tanqueray. Since the largest (re: heaviest) bottles were on the bottom of the shelves they were the ones grabbed by myself and, soon, several of my Revco co-horts who would make their way over to the nearby apartment for an evening of pizza and boozing.

Even though I was never much of a drinker, the majority of those bottles made their way to my dorm room, tucked in the back of my closet behind a shelf. That semester I enrolled in a three-class non-academic “mixology” course that turned our six person suite into party central, which nearly ended up costing me my next job.

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