Steve Grogan is an ongoing contributor to Writer to Writers. He has published several short stories on the site, which can be found on the main page under the heading “Steve Grogan’s Fiction.” He has had several poems and short stories published over the years, some of which are available on Amazon. (See the announcement at the end of this post.)
He is the writer and creator of the ongoing, zombie, post-apocalyptic, Romero-meets-Dungeons-and-Dragons webcomic REDemption. Alternatively, Steve describes the comic by saying, “It is to zombie fiction what KILL BILL was to kung fu movies: everything I love about the genre housed under one roof and mixed with my voice.”
September 20, 2008
Checked my inbox this morning to find a Happy Hour invitation from Stewart Holmes (one of my coworkers). Our whole department is going over to Firkin and Fox around six. Wrote him back and said that I had a late doctor’s appointment. I hate lying to him or to anyone, for that matter. Unfortunately, I don’t have a choice.
Sometimes I wish I could tell my friends the real reason why I don’t go out anymore, but who would believe me? My condition isn’t something that can be TOLD. You would have to see it to believe it, but I wouldn’t dare let anyone see this. Ever. Who knows how they would react? After all, as far as I know, no one else in the world has suffered this affliction, which I have dubbed “the size curse.”
I finished college in 2002, a year before I could legally drink. They gave graduates the option of skipping the stage ceremony and getting their diploma mailed to them, which was the choice I made. There was a motel room in Albany with my name on it. Time to hurry back and claim it.
I got home the first week in June and discovered that the 87 Motel was a dump. It didn’t help that the summer quickly turned brutal. The average temperature for the week was 98 degrees, and the air conditioning in the entire place was busted. My laptop kept overheating and shutting itself down. This was beyond frustrating because all I wanted to do on the damn thing was type up my resume. Priority number one was to get it out there on the market so the IT companies could start looking at me. My hope was it wouldn’t be long before one of them came swooping down to scoop me up.
Speaking of markets and money, I soon realized the cash I’d saved up from my movie usher job in CA would cover my room, but not food. When that discovery hit, I immediately entered the part-time workforce again and landed a gig as a cashier at a nearby Price Chopper. They gave me the job over several other applicants because I said I was willing to work any hours they had available. Usually this meant working during the evening, which left me free to take my resume to several companies in person during the day. Any old schmuck can send an email; I figured showing up in person would impress some or maybe even all the companies I applied for.
To some people it might seem pathetic that a guy with a degree in network administration was working at a Price Chopper, but to me it was pure heaven. It gave me a chance to relax between the end of my education and the beginning of my IT career. Also, it kept me from going broke and starving. If I hadn’t had that measly paycheck, it would have meant crawling back to mom for help. That was the last thing in the universe that I wanted to do because it would have been all the vindication she needed. I could hear the words in my mind as clearly as if she had actually said them: “You see, honey? I said all along you’re too incompetent to make it on your own.”
I’d be damned if I was going back to that.
Thanks to the Times Union’s classified section, I could locate and submit my resume to countless companies (using the good old CDTA buses to get around the Capital Region.) When I’d turned my application in to over twenty businesses, and all twenty failed to get back to me, I turned to the temp agency market. Within two days, one of them (Kerry Staffing) gave me a ring. I can even remember the conversation I had with the staffing specialist that called me.
The phone rang, as it had countless times before, but this time I had a feeling it would be a different kind of call. I could barely contain my excitement when I answered.
“Hello?” I said, my voice cracking like a teen just hitting puberty.
“Hi there, this is Linda from Kerry Staffing. We sent your resume to a company called Value Scripts, located in Latham. They are interested in bringing you on board.”
“Excellent!” I practically screamed. “What kind of work is it?”
“They have an opening in their data entry department,” Linda said.
All the joy sank out of my body without a trace. Data entry? For a guy with an IT diploma? Brain dead monkeys could do that shit. What an insult! I came one breath away from telling Linda where she and Value Scripts could stick their data entry job, but she must have known what I was thinking because the next thing she said immediately restored my interest in the position.
“Now I see here on your resume that you have an IT degree. I imagine data entry doesn’t sound very exciting to you.”
“You read my mind,” I said.
Linda replied with a laugh and then went on: “Well, you still might want to think about giving this job a chance anyway because the data entry position lets you at least get your foot in the door. Also, this is a temp-to-hire position. Value Scripts can bring you on to their payroll after three months. Once that happens, you might be able to get promoted to their IT department.”
Dammit. The woman knew her stuff. She won me over with that last remark.
It turned out that Value Scripts had a three-month probation period that I would have to go through if they hired me from the temp agency. In other words, it could be up to six months until I could apply for the IT department. But it was still worth a shot. Besides, even their lowly data entry job paid more than Price Chopper.
“Temp-to-hire,” I said. “Count me in.”
“Okay. I see you’re currently working at Price Chopper as a cashier. Will you have to give them any notice?” Linda asked.
“I work evenings there,” I said.
“Oh, well that shouldn’t be a problem then because the hours at Value Scripts are eight to four. Let me give them a ring, and I’ll call you back with all the information you’ll need to get started there,” she said.
“Sounds good. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Linda replied. “Talk to you soon.”
She called me back about an hour later. My shift would indeed be 8AM to 4PM, Monday to Friday. Maria Harbor was the name of my contact. The address was 10 Airport Park, Latham NY. Linda told me only one last thing needed to be determined: my start date, which she left up to me.
“Next Monday,” I said without hesitation.
“Okay. And I assume you’ll be giving your two week notice to Price Chopper within a day or two?” Linda asked.
“I’m confused. Evening hours won’t conflict with Value Scripts,” I said.
“Right. And I hate to come off as micromanaging, but the people we send to Value Scripts represent us. We don’t want you to be over-exerting yourself and falling asleep on the job because then that gives us a bad name too,” Linda explained.
This was a shitty position to be in. The extra income from Price Chopper could do me some good until Value Scripts hired me on to their payroll. To play it safe and keep the temp job, I told Linda I’d give them my notice the next day.
“I hope you understand that I’m not trying to manage your life…”
“I understand,” I interrupted. “It won’t be a problem.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Linda said. “Well, I’ll call Maria Harbor back and tell her you’ll start on Monday. Do you have any questions before I let you go?”
“None I can think of,” I said.
“If you do, just give me a call,” she said. “Congratulations on your new job!”
“Thank you, Linda.”
After hanging up I immediately wrote down things I had to get. Right at the top of my list was a car. Second was an apartment. Those two items alone were enough to make me realize there was no way in hell I could afford all my expenses without working both jobs. That sealed the deal as far as NOT giving Price Chopper notice. As for the temp agency, I figured what Linda didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.
Before the car there was one very important document I’d have to get: a driver’s license. I called DMV to find out what I had to do.
First there was a written test for a permit. My next step was to attend a five-hour pre-licensing course. Finally, there was the road test itself. A hell of a lot of work for a piece of plastic that had my picture, name, date of birth and address on it, but worth it to spare myself the anguish of being at the mercy of the public transportation schedule.
Without delay I headed down to the Troy office for the written test, which I aced. Then I had them set me up for the earliest pre-licensing course possible. Luckily it was on a Saturday at 9AM. This presented no scheduling conflicts for me since Value Scripts was Monday to Friday, and my Price Chopper hours were always in the evening.
The course was boring but tolerable, mostly because I struck up a conversation with an attractive young woman named Stacy Dornheimer. Her hair was shoulder-length and crimson red. This provided a startling contrast to her brilliant green eyes. Beyond recognizing the fact that she was beautiful, I didn’t give much thought to what kind of opinion she was forming of me as we talked. We’d be in each other’s live for only the next five hours. Why worry about making an impression?
To my surprise it was this very attitude that made me get lucky that night. No, I don’t mean I got laid, but Stacy did give me her number before we parted ways. I never thought to ask, “Why me?” My mentality is: when you have good luck, don’t make an ass out of yourself by bothering to question it!
Damn, it’s getting late again. Finding it hard to focus on the details. Better go to bed before I make a mess of everything.
If you like what you have read and would like to purchase this serialized novel as one complete PDF, then please send $3.50 to Steve via PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, don’t forget to check out his other writing at the following links below:
Author: Redemption Comics
Steve Grogan was born in the often-filmed city of Troy, NY. He has written in a variety of formats (novels, short stories, poems, screen and stage plays, blogs/articles) and genres (horror, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, drama).
Steve is also a father, a boyfriend, a musician, a fitness fanatic, and a martial artist. He has been studying Wing Chun Kung Fu since 1995, and he maintains a blog/YouTube channel that describe his training habits, epiphanies, and advancement. It also candidly discusses his stumbling blocks, such as his struggle with nutrition and mental health issues.
He is no relation to the New England Patriots quarterback from the 1980’s.