I was getting ready to watch the University of Oregon play a Saturday afternoon football game when my phone rang. I was startled to hear the voice on the other end, it was a woman’s voice from the past, but it had been a great past!
Years ago I was part of a crew that worked in a warehouse shipping product that wasn’t sold, was defective, or being deleted from some companies’ product line. It wasn’t a glamorous job, just a job, but the company we worked for was a glamorous company. It was a large book and record store company in headquartered in West Sacramento California; Tower Records. It had branches all over the US and other parts of the world with England and Japan having the most outlets. In the world of music Tower was a major player.
The Tower Records store on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood was world renowned for after-hours celebrity shopping sprees. To see Elton John or Mick Jagger browsing the isles after midnight was no big deal to Tower employees at the store. The main office building in West Sacramento was a combination of offices for accounts payable, advertising, human resources, accountants and bookkeepers, and beautiful art deco offices with fantastic original paintings and artistic statues for the top brass. Gold records hung everywhere on the reception areas walls. There was a conference room with projection screens and mahogany furniture, a very cool place for major recording artists to come and give private performances for appreciative employees.
But the voice on my phone and the rest of the crew I was on was the warehouse gang. We worked in the non-descript warehouse behind the main office. We were like the sanitation department; they needed us but didn’t invite us to come visit the office! Consequently we formed our own little world of moving product and enjoying being left alone. We handled the loading, unloading, unpacking and repacking of boxes upon boxes of books, tapes, and records. Eventually CD’s were added to that mix.
Of course this freedom also gave us the chance to make work a little more fun by inventing warehouse games, giving everyone a nickname, and going to lunch at a local tavern and having lengthy pool games. As long as we got our work done, nobody cared. What we shipped was money to the company; they got money back on unsold inventory and credit for their next buys off of what we shipped. So it was a win-win situation, “just get it shipped” was the mantra. As far as a dress code, ha, shorts and tee-shirts were the normal outfit. Some of us aspired to eventually leave the warehouse world and did, but for awhile we had a great work experience.
It had been along time since I’d spoken to the woman on the phone who was called Ridge but about one second into the conversation I felt like I’d just spoken to her yesterday. “Hey, guess who’s is here; Ace, I-man, Rudy and Bish.” Those were the key guys from the crew. They all still lived in the Sacramento area and had decided to get over to Ridges for a mini-reunion and had called me.
What made it so cool was that Tower Records is now defunct and each of us had gone separate ways. Ace working in law enforcement, I-man after a brief career with the band Oleander, is now a computer man, Rudy is big with Foster Farms, Bish runs a Home Depot warehouse, and Ridge is a photographer and works with animals. I write. We all had a chance to talk and it was amazing that despite all the years just the sound of the voice and the flash of common memories of our days at Tower Records took us all to the comfortable place of saying “great talking to you, we have to stay in touch more often.”
Hopefully you have friends you know well and get to talk to them, if not I’d suggest doing a bit of research and remember, they may be just a phone call away!
To reach Rick Schultze email:firstname.lastname@example.org