Saturday, May 10, 2014

Return of the Thursday Night Death Shift -- a Play-by-Play

When I was Assistant Manager at the Fitchburg store, I always worked Thursday nights from 3-11 on the register. Fitchburg is one of the busiest stores in the chain. And Thursdays tended to be a busy sales day -- a lot of people get paid on Thursdays so they can afford to buy their cigarettes and Red Bull again, and some people like to kick the weekend off early by going out on Thursdays. After a few Thursday nights of doing $15,000 or $16,000 in sales I started calling it the Thursday Night Death Shift.

Now I'm the manager at a different store, which means I have more control over the schedule and I rarely work night shifts anymore. But someone needed to take a personal day this past Thursday or they lost it forever.

Like Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, the Thursday Night Death Shift never truly dies.

Thus, here's the blow-by-blow of my latest battle with the TNDS:

12:30 -- Punch in. This is a particularly rough shift because of staffing considerations, as I have to do 11 straight hours.

12:45 -- Break shift with my predecessor.

1:00 -- Finish putting away the grocery order.

1:33 -- Jump in the cooler and work on tidying it up in there.

1:35 -- Run back out of the cooler. It's surprisingly busy for this time of day. A blessing and a curse.

2:12 -- The manager of another of our convenience stores comes in, and I exchange a couple of cartons of cigarettes for a couple of cases of Red Bull.

2:51 -- Another manager of another store calls to harass me about some invoicing issue.

4:00 -- Still in the cooler. On a Thursday, this is normally about the time of day I'd be at the gym. I'm now thinking about how much more enjoyable that kind of workout is than lifting cases of soda and energy drinks back and forth.

4:46 -- Finally get the cooler in decent shape.

6:17 -- A third store manager comes in with her mom to talk about their plans for the evening. Word must've gotten around that I'm stuck here tonight. At this point, I'm pretty sure all the managers are flat-out hazing me.

7:40 -- Flip the radio dial over to the Bruins game on 98.5.

7:41 -- Realize how much listening to a hockey game on the radio sucks. Hockey's not the most TV-friendly game -- you miss line changes and it's difficult to see plays develop. But it's even worse on radio -- you can't follow the puck, you have no idea which way the teams are headed or even who's on the ice unless the announcer specifically mentions it. I've listened to snippets of Bruins games in the car when I'm on my way to something before, but have never needed to listen to it for a prolonged period. My sanity is in Bruins announcer Dave Goucher's hands right now.

7:44 -- A customer comes in and asks, "Hey, Bruins still up 1-0?" I give him a puzzled look. The game is about 2 minutes in and it's currently scoreless.

8:21 -- First period is over. Still scoreless. Now's the time to be opportunistic and do all the nightly chores I can -- vacuuming, taking out the trash, sweeping.

9:00 -- Start the nightly cigarette count for inventory.

9:09 -- Second period is over. Still scoreless. My blood pressure is rising. Also after a hellaciously busy afternoon, since the B's game started we've had about five customers (as could be expected). Now I can finish the other chores -- mopping, cleaning bathrooms.

9:47 -- A customer comes in and says, "I DVRed the game tonight. Should I bother watching it?" There's about 5 minutes left in the third period and it's still scoreless. It's been a hell of a game, but the Bruins may still end up losing and fall behind 3 games to 1 in the series. I have no idea how to respond to this guy.

10:18 -- We're at the end of regulation and it's still scoreless. Overtime. Just shoot me now.

10:39 -- Overtime barely started and less than two minutes in the Bruins score to win 1-0. Series is tied at 2 games apiece. I start jumping around and banging my fist against the counter in excitement with such force that I nearly knock over the lottery boxes. Imagine if this game was for the Stanley Cup. Someone walked into the store about the same time the Bruins scored and I think he thought I was having a stroke.

11:00 -- Close store.

11:05 -- Do the daily sales paperwork in the office.

11:39 -- Lock up and go home.

Until we meet again, Thursday Night Death Shift, I have beaten you once again.

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