Strange Confessions: Ruthless UNO

Strange Confessions: At Fred Meyer we invented a version of playing UNO that kept us in the breakroom for over an hour, sometimes two, for our 15 minute breaks.

We called it Ruthless UNO. In this version if you don’t have a card you can play you just keep drawing until you find a card you can. You would occasionally find yourself calling “UNO!” and then your next turn came around only to draw 5 or more cards. Sometimes you’d have over 20 cards in your hands. And when you finally find you could play all those Draw 2’s you couldn’t play before, things got a little out of hand (pardon the pun), especially if you were just playing with two people. Some of these games could go on for a very long time. You just couldn’t stop playing when you heard yourself being paged over the loudspeakers. You would call up the person covering you to see if they could get that. “You’ve been on your break forever,” they’d complain. “But I just got up here, I had to help some people on the way here.”

Eventually, people would comprehend what was the gist of all this card playing and get wise in seeing how long we were up there. We’d have to make up excuses for why this was still happening, or find other places to play, or *gasp* put our game on hold. If you know my wife, you know she is as straight-laced as they come, and she would occasionally participate. But, she was under a more knowing thumb than some of us others were.

The usual participants of this were me and some other assorted cast of characters. I remember specifically the White sisters. No, they weren’t white, I mean they were white, I mean more pale than usual, but their last name was White, not that we just went around and called them white. We were the main collaborators and inventors of the Ruthless UNO marathon breaks. One of them was named Mary, the other I can’t remember. Then there was the friend who recently contacted me on that one site. Trevor Anderson was a frequent player, but a little more responsible. Robin something or other, I can’t remember he last name. And a few others, I can’t even remember first names. (I usually don’t use names in my posts, but I am here because if anyone remembers them, it would be fun to see where these people ended up.)

We were good people. We did show up to work on time, kept our areas relatively clean, answered phones when we had to, cashiered when called. It’s just that sometimes you needed more then 15 minutes, you know? Well, maybe you don’t. If you’ve never worked retail you probably don’t understand. “So that is where all those people are,” you say to yourself… maybe. I’ve just learned not to expect much out of these hard-working, down-trodden lower classes. We came into the retail industry for a variety of reasons. I was there because I had just lost my grant at college and felt like there wasn’t much options for me. Others worked through school. Others had been in the military, and they were just comfortable there, not much was expected of them. Others were what we called “lifers”. They had worked there long enough and were satisfied that this was what life was handing them. Sometimes you felt sorry for them. Perhaps, if circumstances had been different for them, they’d be somewhere “better”. Some just didn’t fit well in normal society. They went through school knowing how different they were, and found retail a good fit for them. We were a diverse bunch, and we loved each other, for the most part.

You know, I tried to forget all about my time in retail, I worked in if from 1988-1997, but it was good times sometimes. I have a saying about the 80’s, “I hated living in them, but I sure miss them now.” As these memories come back, I feel the same way. I really didn’t like working there, but I sure miss them now. One thing that bonds people is working to a common purpose, and we sure were working toward a common purpose then.


Posted on December 8, 2013, in Strange Confessions and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Everybody should work retail (or a restaurant . . . or both) at least once in their lives, maybe not for 9 years, but at least, say, 6 months. It’s a nice practical way to learn the golden rule for both sides of the counter (or table or whatever).

  2. First, I am not a robot. To prove this, just note that you owe me a quarter since sporting KC beat Real SL… So, you’ve played ‘ruthless’ uno, but have you played ‘speed uno’? Add regular uno with ruthless, and then this: anyone with the same type of card could play anywhere around the table, and play continues from there, if multple people slap down a ‘draw 2’, then the person next to the one who played the last card has to pick up all the required cards, 4, 6, 8, 10, or… A few caveats: you can’t play this with novices, certain people hate it, etc.

    • You’re not a robot? Why would you just… oh, you’re a robot.
      Good suggestion for UNO robot man. We’ll have to play that version when I’m in Machine country again.

  3. Robot Man, that sounds very much like the card game Nasty which your father-in-law has undoubtedly made you play at some point. You know . . . the giant stack of playing cards with lots of jokers? “Certain people” don’t like chaotic games, except maybe Dutch Blitz.

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