My first high school job was working as a Sales Associate at Ross Dress for Less. My best friend Dave also worked there. It was the best job in the entire f*cking world. Remember the movie Mannequin, where Andrew McCarthy just hangs out with a magic mannequin come-to-life in a department store all night? Well it was a lot like that, except without the magic mannequin, and the store was way crappier. The job wasn’t hard, but it was really, really boring, and Dave and I would constantly have to find ways to entertain ourselves, just to keep from going crazy. Consequently, we came up with a few fun activities to get through those rough 4-hour Tuesday night shifts:
The Vending Machine Blitzkrieg
Vending machines suck. They’re full of candy and snacks, but the only way you can get to them is by putting money in. At least that’s what I thought before I started working at Ross. It turns out that if you get a friend to help you lay the vending machine down on its face, the candy will just fall to the front of the machine. Then, when you stand it back up again, all the candy will slide down to the bottom and you can scoop it out with ease. This is what I ate for dinner for nearly 8 months as a Ross employee: free candy. Don’t be fooled by their stature, either; two high school kids can easily tip a vending machine that’s not bolted down.
Christmas Clothes Diving
Like most department stores, our Ross got double or triple shipments of inventory around the holidays. At about 8pm every night, a huge semi-truck would pull up to the cargo door in the back storage room. A guy would open that truck and just start throwing piles of clothes into the store’s back room, and we would have to pick up those clothes and put them on a huge table to be sorted and prepared. After the truck left, the pile of clothes on that table would be about 10 feet high, and we had to sort all of it. As high school kids, we saw this as an insurmountable task that we didn’t really care about surmounting it in the first place, so we did what any apathetic kids would do: we figured out how to have fun with a 10 foot pile of clothes in a storage room. It turned out that the easiest way to do it was to climb thirty feet up on some nearby shelving and dive into the massive pile of clothes. In order to do this, we had to strategically dive through some hanging flourescent light fixtures and some weird pipes, but this added a little bit of danger to the mix, and made our acrobatic clothes-diving more fun, until we got caught by the Assistant Manager. Luckily, she was a cool stoner chick. She took one dive herself, and then told us never to do it again. She did not catch us the next time we went Clothes Diving.
Shoe Department Strategizing
I worked in the Men’s Department of Ross. It was super easy. All I had to do was hang up clothes that lazy people threw on the floor, and occasionally clean some shit off the walls of the fitting room. No big deal. My friend Dave worked in the shoe department, though, and the shoe department at Ross Dress for Less is an absolute nightmare. For some reason, people can’t try on a pair of shoes without just throwing shit everywhere and destroying everything within reach, and it was Dave’s responsibility to clean all that shit up. At the end of the night, he had to put all the shoes back on the shelf and pair them up correctly, which was a horrific task. If Dave had an extra shoe that he couldn’t find the pair for, he would get in trouble for it, but we quickly realized that if that shoe disappeared, there would be no record of a mis-matched pair of shoes at all, and everything would be fine. Consequently, our mission every night was getting rid of a few lone shoes so that Dave wouldn’t get in trouble for losing its pair. Luckily, we found a storage room with some shelves that allowed us to reach a loose wall vent, and everytime we ended up with a mismatched shoe, we would just drop it down into the wall where nobody would ever find it, and nobody ever did find it…until a few years later, when they tore that Ross Dress for Less down. I drove by one day during the demolition and saw this:
So if you ever shopped at a Ross Dress for Less in Tempe, Arizona, between 1997 and 1999, there’s a really good chance that I plummeted thirty feet into your clothes, dropped that other shoe you were looking for into the wall, and had to clean your shit off of the fitting room wall. I’d say we’re even.