Fight With Tools

I’ve worked with some interesting characters over the years at some pretty interesting places. This one involves a guy by the name of Stuart. We were about the same age and got along really well. Where we worked, wasn’t really work. It was hanging out with guys and trying to sell them overpriced unbifurcated garments while drinking beer.

We didn’t work at a bar. We worked at a retail store that had a weekly $30 beer budget that was kept cold by “The Beligerator”…a fridge from the 1930s with the cooling element on the top of the machine. The thing weighed about 1/4 ton…but it did keep the beer cold.

We played music loud and whoever got in the store first got to choose. We ran the entire store off of a Mac Mini. It was our point-of-sale, music library and YouTube viewer all in one. I would pick a random mix of pre-selected tunes that were “Safe For Work” spanning different genres. Whenever Stu worked, it was always Pandora and always Hot Chip Radio. We both had opposing viewpoints on what good music was, but we respected each other’s tastes.

Stu would take the company product on the road and hawk it at different festivals throughout the country. He would come back after a long weekend selling and decompress with a couple of beers…always putting Hot Chip Radio on the big-ass 70s speakers we had chained from the ceiling. One of the tracks that would play in a heavier rotation than the others was Flobots’ “Handlebars”. I didn’t really know much about them except for the one track. It has a distinctive intro and you can tell within a couple of seconds that it is what it is. When Stu was working and the song came on, the world would stop to cease. No work would be done, conversations would be stopped unless you were singing along with the song.

Being away for most weekends, took its toll on Stu. Management, as friendly as they could be hiring their friends with little accountability, began to see that there was something “rotten in the state of Denmark”…but it wasn’t Stu. It was somethign else and it had to change. But they couldn’t figure it out, or at least as I could see while I was there. There have been some personnel changes since I left and the company’s coke-filled vision seems to be on the right track for the moment.

Admittedly, after a while, Flobots kinda grew on me. After leaving the company, I started to miss some people I worked with. They had moved on to greener pastures and hopefully found their happiness. It’s hard for me to listen to the Flobots and not think about Stu. He worked hard, played a little harder, always had time for close friends, and disappeared to make clay huts down south.

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