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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.

~Stranger

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Strange Confessions: My Time in Retail

I got a friend request from someone I haven’t seen in around twenty years. I use to work with this person at the same place I met my wife. It was a retail store called Fred Meyer.

Where I work now, I have to spend 40 hours with the same two people that I don’t particularly enjoy spending time with. But back in retail, we had a lot of fun, sticking to the “man” by hiding out as much as we could and dealing with difficult customers and your typical other stuff you experienced in retail. I really enjoyed working with some of those people, in fact, some of them I’d spend time with outside of work and frequently too.

I have probably told you that my own personal philosophy is that the more people you know, the broader your experience and knowledge. I have written several “Strange Confessions” that prompted me to try and find old friends. Some have brought about great results, others have chosen to ignore me for one reason or another. It sure is nice to think people remember me fondly and want to connect again.

I started thinking of all the fun we had trying to avoid work and the activities we did away from work. I also think that a lot of my writings on here have been very serious lately. Since I am a Christian, I have a lot of Christian friends on that one site, and many of their posts are serious stuff or bible verses or pictures with pithy sayings. I don’t disparage them their style, I appreciate it all. I try to keep it light… for the most part. In the past I was very open about who I was on there and felt that nobody cared and it sometimes hurt. Obviously I worked through all that and now I have this site to tell all my little secrets, and it’s grown beyond that: to what I learned in church or fellowship group, movie reviews, commentary on culture, etc… I can now share the links here on my personal page and they can look at it or not… whatever. It really is for me. But, I have noticed that I have been too serious lately.

So, I will begin a new series of Strange Confessions dealing with my time in the retail industry. You know, it is funny that I don’t remember much of what happened in those years, probably because I spent so much time then doing stuff that would help me forget it. The one thing about when I write about my past is that a lot of it comes back to me. That is another benefit to my writing. So, see you soon with some fun stuff, and of course a pinch of what it all means to me now and how it shaped who I am.

~Stranger

Strange Confessions: In Which I May Have Finally Admitted What I Want to be When I Grow Up

Strange Confessions: I am a little bit jealous of my wife, my best friend, for getting a teaching job at the local Christian school.

For years I have not known what I wanted to be when I grow up, and being forty-four years old, I still don’t really know. Perhaps, until now.

When I was in elementary school I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was told I had a way with animals and I did like them; I could make friends with any animal that I came in contact with. Slowly, slowly that desire started to fade away. I envy people who see what they want to be at a young age, and then with every intent and purpose they go after it with zeal. There are those who get into college, take a few courses, change majors a few times, and graduate in their chosen field. Sure maybe they didn’t have such a pursuant desire as the former, but their goals are achieved nonetheless.

Ferguson Canyon: My favorite hiking grounds, just a 15 minute walk from home.

Ferguson Canyon: My favorite hiking grounds, just a 15 minute walk from childhood home.

When I got went to college, my chosen field was the Utah State University, Forestry program. I hiked a lot in my latter years of High School and just loved and appreciated all the outdoors had for me. Living in walking distance of the Wasatch Range in the Salt Lake valley sure improved my outlook when I was down. We would occasionally go camping and the rangers would make their rounds in the morning, talking and meeting new people everyday was such a thrilling outlook for me, that, that is what I wanted. Alas, as I have written before, I struggle with some depression, and this time in my life, Fall of 1987 to the Spring of 1988, occurred some of the absolute worst bouts I had against the dreaded lurking blackness. I grew disillusioned with the staff and the students there. More likely what affected me there was my depression. It was the first time away from home, I was poor, I was hungry, I needed a good friend, and most people were only interested in studying or partying at one time or another. I see that now what I really needed then, my strong sense of needing to belong, needing to know people cared had to be fulfilled or I would whither away and perish, which I did metaphorically. I stopped going to classes, started partying too much, isolated myself in my room for longer periods of time. I had a grant that I lost that year because of failing or incomplete grades. That year was I time I would most like to forget, but like most things I see now, it was a part of who I am now, and I should never forget it.

I tried again the next year to go to USU, without classes, without money. My plan was to get the job back I had, a copy dude at one of the many campus copy centers, work hard, stay away from bad influences, and make enough to start classes again. But, the first week there, all the pain and emptiness poured over me and I froze in panic, called my Mom and begged her to come and get me. My Nana had to come and get me. On the ride home, I was defeated. Low and empty I said nothing. It was a bitter disappointment. For me, people or places in which I was with during strong depressive states, I cannot revisit. There was this guy named Carlos I went to High School with. Even now thinking about him causes me anxiety and an inner sadness I find hard to deal with. Well, that is what I learned with the USU campus. We would travel through Logan valley years later and stop at the dairy college to get some ice cream and it would make me feel hollow just looking around. Although I loved driving up Logan Canyon. I remember two specific instances up there that I had a very good time up there, so that is a good place.

I ended up getting a job at Fred Meyer and worked there for several years with a small break in between. My second stint with Fred’s introduced me to my future wife and a friend who started working at Kinko’s. After a few years of marriage, I too began working at Kinko’s and I’ve been in the printing industry since. Hrrmm, looking at that now, I’m none too proud of my work “choices”. For it seems that almost all my jobs were taken out of desperation. Even now, the one I have, which took me several hundred miles from my  home of forty years, was taken to get away from things. I am extremely jealous of people who have a job that they enjoy, or that they chose, or that brings them fulfillment, or a good profit. Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful to God for getting me in a position where I can provide for my family. It’s just that… I would like to like it. I would like to have chosen it.

Which brings me to this Strange Confession: I have always loved working with younger people. It brings me such a sense of fulfillment and belonging and purpose that I cherish the time I have with them. When I left Salt Lake, the hardest for me was leaving the kids I worked with on Tuesday night at AWANA with my local church. Sure, I was going to miss my family and friends that I had, but those kids were really very special to me. I actually had adults think I was a teacher because of the way I could relate to them. This sparked things in my mind, but I never followed it up. So some people knew about my wife’s commitment to Christian education, and thought she may be available for a few hours during the week, and they put her name forward, and through a series of interviews she got the job. I have been a little upset with her lately, easily offended and the like, and never knew what it was until just a few days ago. I am jealous of the position she received. I pictured myself standing in front of kids, bringing thoughts of history, writing, math, doctrine and expanding their minds, revealing more of the world to them, caring for them, talking to them, answering questions. I realized that I was jealous. I want to be a teacher. But how? We aren’t in an area where I can get a degree, I don’t have the time or money or resources for this. All I see are walls.

But God doesn’t see any of that. I see no way , but God does. I believe God has given me this gift to relate to kids and this may be it! In some ways I am so discouraged because it is so late in coming and I just don’t see it happening, but God can do whatever He wants with me. And I give Him this. May I bear fruit in this area through Him, and give Him the glory when all is accomplished.

~Stranger

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