David is thinking about the meat faerie (zoomardav) wrote,
David is thinking about the meat faerie

My Time as an Elf - Part 3

I opend the maual and he sat down across the table from me. He tapped his fingers nervously while I trudged my way through the employee manual. The whole manual was written as if Gilbert were the real owner of the store. “Gilbert’s Expectations” was the first section. “Gilbert expects that you will arrive five minutes before your shift is to begin. Taking off your coat and stowing you gear is to be on your time, not the store’s time. Gilbert also times breaks very carefully, so be prompt! Walt and Mouse can't be here all the time, but Gilbert is always here.” There was a whole page of rules phrased that way, a section about getting paid (Once a month, no exceptions.) and a few forms to fill out. Walt watched me impatiently the whole time with his arms crossed. The only movement was the slight contraction of his nostril as he breathed in.

When I was finished, Walt took the forms and examined them. He gave them back to me and pointed to the line where I was to write the date. “We do not use the American method of dating in this store. We only use the European method of date. It makes far more logical sense.”

“I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Sorry, I thought you might be smart enough to know. American dates are given month, day and then year. In Europe the date is given day, month and then year. As you can plainly see the ascending order of scale is a much more natural way to give the date. You must write the date this way on all internal and external paperwork. Do you understand what I’m saying?” Walt said the last sentence in such a condescending way that it actually made me question my own ability to understand him for a second.

“No problem, got it. Seems pretty straightforward.”

“Excellent, well, as soon as you get this date kerfuffle cleared up, we can can begin.’

Walt loved the word kerfuffle. He used it constantly. Unfortunately, he seemed to think that it meant “mistake or problem” instead of being a dismissive term for a “commotion” which is what it actually means.

I crossed out "9/1/94" and wrote "1/9/94" on everything but the tax form. The government definitely went by the American dating method. Walt gave me a green apron that said "Elf" on it and motioned for me to put it on. I'm 6' 5" tall, so the fabric looked more like a green potholder strapped to my chest.

He took me to meet Roy. Roy was all friendly and smiles. He was just overweight enough to be doughy and his hair was thick and helmet-like. I was later to find out that Roy, in addition to being the Senior Elf, was the “nice guy” in the phrase “nice guys finish last.” You see, Roy had a wife who had just given birth and they decided that she wouldn't work anymore. Roy had to have a job and Walt knew it. Walt treated Roy as if he were an endentured servant. I didn't know it at the time, but Roy was a common Seattle type. He had been in a semi-successful rock band and had to quit when "real life" caught up with him. He and the stock guy, Chris, talked a lot about forming other bands, but neither one played anymore.

He was the liason between the bosses and the workers, but his real job was just to be wrong. It was his job to take the fall for every policy that was institued that failed. Those of us that worked for Roy didn’t really like him. No one hated him, but he was such a null persona he was quickly tiresome. Roy existed only in relation to forces that he reacted to, not to be anything himself. He was just a human punishment sponge and he played his role well.

Roy always spied on us and handed down new rules as Walt and Mouse made them up.
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