Saturday, January 10, 2009

Plaid Lad: The Origin Story

Ah, blogging. The new internetian pastime. Any hero worth his salt needs a hobby, and like any good super hero, I have an origin story. I suppose that's where I'll start. The beginning that is. Well, the beginning of this particular story. The idea of "the beginning" is entirely subjective.

Up until April of '08, I worked in an architecture office with a pretty cushy job making digital 3D models of building designs. Just plop myself down in my seat, crank up the tunes, zone out and suddenly I had made something beautiful and it was time to go home, likely to get plastered or play D&D, (or combine the two and play DD&D, or Drunk Dungeons & Dragons, a personal favorite of mine), with my friends.

Then the economy fell out from under me and the architecture firm's HR lady took me aside and said, with a tear welling up in her eye, that they couldn't afford to keep me on anymore and had to let me go. There were no hard feelings and I still have a warm place in my heart for that firm, although I'll leave it un-named here for anonymity's sake.

I was unemployed for several months, getting checks from the government like any good leech on society. I used this time to relax, update my resume and... discover that I had artists block and couldn't update my portfolio. And with that, away went my hopes of getting an artsy job right off the bat like I did before. I wound up meeting some people through this activism thing that I won't get into quite yet, (oooh mystery! An essential part of any super hero's backstory!), and it turned out that they needed another person to help out around their start-up print shop.

The three of us discovered rather quickly that this was my calling. Even though we weren't turning enough of a profit to pay ourselves, I was as happy as I could be in that shop and kept finding ways to scrape by.
Printing, trimming, swearing, joking, laughing... this shop was my ideal work environment.

You'll notice that's past-tense.

Well, unfortunately all of a sudden I ran out of money and with a few poorly placed $1-$2 debit transactions wound up almost $300 overdrawn which I still haven't recovered from. My car was reposessed, and suddenly I was faced with myriad FINAL SHUT OFF NOTICE letters in the mail. I live in a house with three room mates, and I have a strong sense of duty to them as they're all wonderful people - I can't very well let them down and leave them without internet, can I?

That's when I applied at the Plaid next door to home. I'm overqualified, not a student, actually handle the public well and have an actual work ethic... none of these are attributes you find in a convenience store employee. I needed something more to get the job.

Ah, desperation, yes. Why yes, of course I'll work for five cents above minimum wage as long as you give me forty hours a week. I can survive on that. That'll do just fine. Besides, I've always sort of wanted to work as a clerk for a while, just for the experience. It sounded a little fun, and like I'd meet some meet some interesting people.

The blue apron fit just right over my neck. I cinched the ties under the apron for aesthetics. My name tag clipped effortlessly onto the neck-strap. Then it happened. I watched helplessly as Plaid Pantry mercilessly slaughtered my dignity.

I was no longer a human being to the public. I was now little more than a talking vending machine.

I had become... Plaid Lad.

It's definitely interesting. I've definitely met some interesting people. I've also learned that they don't pay me enough to give two damns or a fuck about the place, much less the company and that it gives me ample opportunity to... do absolutely nothing but jot down notes of the bizarre experiences I encounter there and share them upon my return home.

I've also discovered that it's in my job description that I don't have to take shit from anyone. Not my employers, not my co-workers, not customers. As a result, in my month and some weeks as Plaid Lad I think I've probably swung the Ban Hammer more times than most people do in half a year.

And you know what?

I'm starting to like it.

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