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March 05, 2009


"If you were from where I'm from then you would know.."

I can tell Fedco stories until the cows come home. It is where I got real, working there full time after I dropped out of USC - the complete opposite of the spectrum from my time at Loyola High School. Cobb readers may know that I was a union man. Yep. This is where it happened.

I'm going to bore you with a bunch of names that I have to put here just so I remember them in the future starting with Celia Misner, my boss in the Radio Department. Alan Nakatani, Debra Brown, Barrington Hall, Mr. Tobak, Mr. Gross (of course), Sheila 'Butter' Washington, Vance Lawson, Claude Grant, Kevin, Mark Robinson, Satsuo Sunoda, Clive Marks, John Grant the guy who wrecked my motorcycle, big Charles, David Ashby, Angel Espin, Lau Lam, Wah Gee, Robert Stephens, the DM girl who wore $80 designer jeans, Ward and the Vietnam vets in the warehouse, Ricky Thompson, Doogie's little brother... I am so mad at myself for blanking, especially about, the girl in radios who left to do law, the two other girls besides Debra Brown , somebody Hawkins and another who's name is Verlisa Boykin (yay I remembered). Nat Durand. And I'm sorry Kevin I can't remember your last name, you and Mark were my best friends, almost best ever.

Then there was the poor kid from Eastern Europe who ate raw vegetables out of a shopping bag.
There was the cowboy who worked the radio cage before I came. There was the evil manager, that woman everybody hated over in Customer Service. The knuckleheads on carts.

I pinged Ricky because I know he remembers more people than I do, oh duh Tonya Hart who was part of our clique. But I'm a bit ashamed right now to have forgotten so many. I actually had a dream about Fedco the other night - I had hacked into their PA system with my cell phone and called out 'Mr. Tobak 254' and then went on a rant telling all the shoppers that the security had been compromised and that Fedco was part of a global conspiracy.

BTW, Mr. Tobak was the manager of the middle part of the store, including the Jewelry Department, where only the most trusted employees worked. There was a lady with a Spanish accent who would always call him on the PA to 254 which was the Jewelry Department's number whenever she had to accept a larger payment or somebody's Fedco credit card bounced. Tobak was a tall guy.

I worked at Fedco for 18 months. So I know I can survive on miminum wage if it ever came to it. One of the most valuable experiences in my life was working there in radios, in sundries and at main checkout.

One more little Fedco story. At the bottom of the Fedco totem pole are the baggers at main checkout. It's exhausting, repetitive work, and it's where they put people to break them. If you get good, which means keeping a friendly attitude and keeping up with the cashier, you could possibly be a cashier, which is at the top of the regular employee's totem pole. Whenever it get's really crowded in the store, they might pull you from your department and make you bag at main checkout. Or you might just have a regular rotation for several weeks. The latter happened to me.

So I'm bagging and finally get up to speed after about a week, and one day this blonde lady comes in with her cute kids. She's unusually chatty and has bought a whole lot of stuff, like maybe $300 worth, which was a lot of carts full back in '79. Her accent is a little strange and she tells me that she's on vacation. Then she tells me how impressed she is with Fedco and the efficiency of my bagging. So then tells me that she's from Johannesburg and then tips me a shiny new quarter.

I must have stood there with my mouth open for a full minute because I was genuinely enjoying the polite conversation. I was in shock the rest of the day and I'll never forget that moment. Damn.