Discus Music World

For a kid in high school working in a record store is about as close as it comes to having a dream job.  In this case it is my father who gets all the credit as he dragged me to the mall and had me cold call all the retail outlets.  My interview with my soon to be manager, 21yr old Julie Matz consisted of two questions:

  1. Was I prepared to work hard?
  2. Did I really, really, really want the job?

Hard work at a record store consists of running sales through the register and filing out delete lists (pulling non-selling titles off the shelves).  Compared to the bee hive of activity that was McDonalds it felt like a vacation.  The only other employees were the 20yr old assistant manager Sharon Orange and the guy who worked the opposite shifts from mine.  All of us became close friends and every day I looked forward to the next time I could return to my retail sanctuary and escape the misery that was the rest of my life.  However after the Christmas season I was let go.

Everyone has their cross to bear and as far as your typical teenage tragedies go losing a job  is not exactly a serious crisis.  However if there is one thing all teenagers share it is a lack of perspective.  From my own point of view I could see that I wasn’t just small, I was far and away the smallest kid in my grade.  I wasn’t the only one with glasses, but mine were much thicker, so much so that my eyes looked to be six inches inside my head.  I wasn’t the only one with braces but I had to endure seven years of orthodontic purgatory including a year with a cumbersome drool inducing mouthpiece that rendered me mute except for the constant slurping noise.   I had moved to another town in junior high so I didn’t have the advantage of a built in base of friends.  My new school also had a much tougher curriculum including a new to me french immersion  program, so I was struggling academically as well.  If that wasn’t enough I was often my own worst enemy.  As an outspoken independent thinker I often had serious issues with the religious tenants of my Catholic school so I couldn’t count on getting any support from my teachers.  I had the standard conflicts with my parents but for the most part they were aware of the situation and once they even had me see a child psychologist.  I laid out my case to her and all she was able to come with, no doubt culled from years of professional experience and study, was a pithy seven word solution.   Be yourself, learn to Live with it.

Dreams, even the worst of them eventually come to an end and in this case Julie called me in the new year and offered me my old job back.  I was never a music aficionado as  I could neither play an instrument nor carry a tune.  My auditory preferences are entirely subjective  and I eventually developed a fondness for the music I associate with this time in my life.  As it happened, my time at the record store coincided with  the release of many classic rock albums on CD for the first time however one in particular really stands out.  For reasons that can’t be explained Sharon took it upon herself of open a copy of Steve Miller’s Greatest Hits 1974-1978 and it became our unofficial anthem  We played that cassette incessantly, much to the chagrin of the guys who worked at the Radio Shack next door.  To this day whenever I hear the opening notes of Swingtown, the first track on that record, I get a feeling of fanciful nostalgia.  I can still remember how good it felt that magical year when my braces came off, when my glasses were replaced by contact lenses, when I was full grown and for the first time in my life I was happy.

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