I am a 28-year-old who recently finished graduate school. In the fall of 2003, I was 21, not yet in college, and working part-time to full-time (depending on the week) at Domino's Pizza. Most of my nights were spent in a mind-numbing rush of angry customers, dirty dishes and clogged sinks.
Those were the days when people still mainly purchased music via physical copies of CDs, and as an avid music lover, I spent a fair amount of my spare time in music stores perusing the CDs I'd read about in magazines. On one of my days off I ended up wandering down the CD aisles at Best Buy, something I did on a regular basis. Delivering pizzas 30-plus hours a week and living in my mom's basement afforded me the ability to waste much of the money I made. This eased the pain of living at home and delivering pizza while others were off at college.
I picked up a copy of the Beatles' 'The White Album' and stared at the plain cover and the song list on the back. I couldn't justify the $32 price though, so I set it back on the shelf and continued up the aisle. With 'The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill' echoing in my head, a guy in a blue shirt with a name tag stopped me.
"Do you need help with anything, sir?"
He had curly, shoulder-length hair that shook when he talked. I always found it entertaining when retail workers called me "sir." As a 21-year-old pizza boy, I wasn't sure what qualified me for that title.
"No, I'm just looking around," I said and stopped in front of him. That was my stock answer for any salesman, even if I did have a question.
"Well, if you need anything just let us know."
A fun-looking job
He left me and returned to his post at the end of the aisle next to a computer. I wondered if he was actually looking anything up or was just playing solitaire when I saw him type something in. At the same time a pretty girl with long brown hair wearing the same blue shirt walked by and smiled at me. I watched her walk over to the same post and start talking to the other guy. She flipped her hair a couple times and laughed.
"What a job," I thought to myself. "They're getting paid to flirt and play around on a computer. I spent most of my working hours alone in a car smelling other people's food."
When I left, I noticed a sign by the registers that said something about an "open interview fair" happening the rest of the week. The sign read "No waiting, come in with your resume and be interviewed immediately."
A comment about Elvis
I came back a couple days later wearing a button-down shirt and slacks. The staff was quick to point me to an enclosed area in the back of the store. I followed a girl to a curtained section and waited behind a couple of other guys in a line. After about 10 minutes, someone directed me to go behind the partition where there was a table set up with a few chairs around it. I sat down in front of a portly, middle-aged man with frizzy gray hair and a face covered in stubble.
"How are you?" he asked.
"I'm doing good," I said and handed my resume across the table to him. He glanced at it for a few seconds and set it down.
"So you're interested in working at Best Buy?" he asked. He continued with some general questions, and somewhere along the way I told him of my love for music.
"I really like Elvis Costello," he said and looked down at my resume again. "I heard them playing 'Alison' out in the store before I came back here." Just then I remembered a tidbit I'd heard on VH1 earlier in the week.
"Did you know that Huey Lewis's backing band, the News, were the studio band for Costello's first album?" I asked.
I figured he probably already knew it but it wouldn't hurt to throw it out there.
He looked at me funny and smirked. "I didn't know that," he said and chuckled. He scratched his stubble for a moment and thought about it. "Why don't you stick around for a bit and I'll get you a second interview with one of the managers."
A long but worthwhile wait
I agreed (of course!) and thought it all seemed pretty easy as I waited, sitting next to the customer service counter for someone else to interview me. It felt less tolerable after an hour had passed and nobody had said anything to me. Finally, I asked a girl at the counter if she knew what the problem was.
She disappeared for a minute behind the scenes and then came back and told me a manager would be right with me. After about 20 more minutes I wondered what the problem was. She looked over at me again and smiled. Finally, out came a different man, the long-awaited manager.
"Sean?" he asked and looked down at a clipboard. I nodded my head and faked a smile.
"Sorry about that wait, I didn't know you were out here."
I figured he'd just look at my resume and send me on my way.
But still, I followed him into the curtained area again and sat down at the same table. He glanced over my resume and smiled at me.
"It's getting a little late; I'm leaving here at 7. Why don't you just call Lab Corp this week to set up a drug test and come in for orientation next Monday."
I shook his hand and he sent me on my way. It was that easy for me to get out of the pizza delivery business and get a job at Best Buy.