Good Things Don't Happen In Stock Rooms | Menories Journal

Good Things Don't Happen In Stock Rooms | Menories Journal

A Story by Haley
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Nothing good ever happens in a stock room. Some Strong Language, Some Drug Language

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            One of the first things that I learned when I began to work retail was that nothing good ever happens in a stock room. While every stock room is different, that same general thought still rang true. In my last retail job, I was fortunate to work in a department store where each department had at least one, sometimes two stock rooms. Department stockrooms were typically lit with bright, but not flattering fluorescents and rang with activity; from other employees taking their breaks to “checking for a different size” which generally meant a quick two-minute phone break. These stock rooms held their own evils but also could act as a place of solace when facing the various types of retail evil. It was in the stock rooms that were unusually dark, where the darkness gripped onto every corner, where the temperature of the room allowed one's breath to be visible, and where something was also lurking around the corner; where the danger could be found. 

            I managed to leave my family in awe, washing away all doubts, that I could make it in the city. I had secured what I thought to be a great job and was on my way to making more friends than I ever had before. What made the job great? I was to be working at one of the cooler fast fashion clothing stores in the heart of Union Square with people who were approximately my age. I had never worked with people my age, even at my first job, an ice cream shop, most of the employees were at least seven years older. My enthusiasm for the job showed through, quickly earning some respect with the managers, and aiding in my quest for friends. The first few days on the job was filled with nonsensical training aka training that seemed to be common sense, but also highlighted rules and regulations to be followed without telling you how to follow those set precedents. 

 Six hours into the first day of training and we were finally bestowed our uniforms - a matching navy blue polyester top and bottom. The outfit itself was unappealing and unforgiving, being my first real venture into European sizing. European sizing, compared to American sizing is quite a bit smaller, which caused the number of poorly made polyester slacks my thighs burst through to be astronomical. Regardless of the outfit, I was primed and ready, wanting to sell and help make the store’s daily goal, maybe too over unenthusiastically. It was only after seeing my first paycheck that I realized that global commission was not the same as individual commission, meaning, if and only if the store made above the daily goals, each employee would get 0.00001% of those sales earned above the goal. Coincidentally, around the time that I got my first paycheck was also the time I started to realize the dream of a job I had manufactured in my mind was just a facade and not my reality.

           The issue(s) began with the managers. The District Manager, a woman who wore her heart on her sleeve but acted as if she was covered in medieval armor, unpenetratable. Not only was she made of steel, her mood was reliant on a coin flip, often leaving morning shift workers warning closing shift employees warning of what to expect. While the District Manager was icy at first glance, she was not the problem. The assistant manager was a man, who transferred into the store a week after I had started working there. His long 2010 bangs side swiped across his face, covering his eyes. It was an open game to speculate on his sexuality, many of us thinking he was gay were surprised to find that he had a very female fiancee. He had obvious favorites, like me, that he would talk to about out-of-work discussions. With me, he seemed to be particularly interested in my dating/sex life while also simultaneously rubbing my back or touching my arm as he passed by. Too often and quickly the employees learned that this was a man who abused who his assistant managerial power in the form of punishments when he was displeased. It was one of these punishments that that landed me working in the stocks (or stock room). 

            Having been hired on as a sales associate, I didn’t typically work in the stock room and relied on the designated stock room staff to do so. As the store was just off of Union Square, it was one of the busiest locations and that pressure was felt. When needing a different size or when wondering if there was any stock of a particular item, the sales associates would have to walkie-talkie the stock room staff.  The stock room team was the backbone of the store; however, was made up of people who didn’t want to do much, often preferring to spend their shift high off of codeine and a slew of other drugs and alcohol. Their habits caused headache for the sales associates, often having to call into the walkie-talkie five or six times before receiving any kind of answer. In part due to this trouble, but as well as poor management, the store had an extremely high turn-over rate - especially in the stock room. Which left managers pushing sales associates up to the 4th floor whenever they wanted.

            When having to help the stock room, I found that quick run-ins tended to be best. I found myself volunteering to run to the stock room to grab a size instead of asking for the stock room team’s help which was usually just an excuse for a quick break; the store elevator often taking a full three minutes to go up four floors and then back down. It was the times when the stock room needed extended help that trouble began to seep through the cracks on the walls. On some slower week nights, one of the managers would send a group of sales associates up to help the stock team reorganize the mess of the room, other times it was served as punishment for over-talking or misbehaving - two things that I was notorious for doing. 

            The fourth-floor stock room, or the main stock room, was the width of a house and stretched a city block back. The lights were always dim and flickered occasionally, setting the mood (but not the right mood). While there were no windows, or even any obvious doors to the outside world, there did seem to be a sharp, chilly breeze pouring into the room. Metal shelves took up the majority of the room, 12-foot steel towers lined up like dominos. The walls were crafted to have clothing rails on them as well, puffy coats, jackets, and even scarves jumping out at you as you tried to match the SKU number on the half-broken IPad to the scratched off numbers on the shelves. Part of the stock room’s game was that no product was ever where it should be and no one ever did anything to fix it.

            It was a Spring Tuesday night, the holiday rush, sale, and then returns had passed and slower weeknights were spent goofing off, out on the lookout for any manager that could cause us trouble. On these nights, coworkers and I would throw a fashion show with the store's ugliest clothing in the badly lit fitting room. However, this night I found myself fixing and folding down a pile of inside out sweaters on a display table when the assistant manager came up to me, asking about my after-work plans. He had heard through the grapevine (which was really just him lurking around the break room) that a group of coworkers and I were going to grab drinks after close. I looked at him for a second before shaking my head no, it wasn’t a surprise he was listening, he always was. After telling him that it was a tentative future plan, I explained I had class early the next morning and turned my attention back to the display table mess. He continued to talk for a few minutes, prodding about my weekend plans before I joked that if he left me alone I could move on to fixing the next display table. Out of the side of my eye, I watched as he huffed and straightened himself up before banishing me to help the stock room until the store was closed. “Are you serious?” I managed to spit out, confused as I had never been sent up there for more than fifteen minutes. Without a response, he shook his long boyband bangs out of his face, and stomped off to the cashier station. The elevator ride up to the 4th floor was slow, and as the elevator creakily climbed, I took inventory of who I had seen working that day. The stock room manager; good. There was the guy that Rhea was into; also good. And finally, the new stock room girl who I hadn't had a chance to meet. I honestly didn't care who was working in the stock room as long as it wasn't Terrence. 

Terrence, also had three other names: his birth name, his nickname, and his rapper name. I never learned what name Terrence was, but I also didn’t really care. Terrence was the definition of someone who would lurk around. He was always present without being present, he would stand around the corner listening in on conversations, or sit at the lunch table and stare glassy-eyed until someone tried to talk to him. Even when being talked to by Terrence was an experience, he watched every move a person would make, and instead of eye contact, would undress you with his eyes. When he would make eye contact with you, it seemed unbreakable, almost tethered together whether you wanted it or not. He had a deep low voice and spoke in mumbles, trying to get people to come closer to him but instead left one asking "What?" more times than feels comfortable to ask. Overall, he had a sense of doom that surrounded him like a cloud. 

I made it my mission to try with Terrence, even after friends and coworkers had warned me to be careful around him. Though he had an obvious air of creepiness about him, I didn't want to judge a book by it's cover. Though soon, and without fail, he proved himself true to my friend's word. After about a week or so of my working at the store, Terrence had somehow procured my number and began texting me random things at random times of the night. Nothing inappropriate, usually a late 90’s music video, a link to his new SoundCloud rap song, or a classic, “U up?” text. It was after he started these late night texts that I stopped trying to be around Terrence. With every text received from him I  had responded my disinterest, but it was hard not be in Terrence’s presence when Kenneth was also in the picture.

Growing up it was rare that I got crushes on people but when I did they were usually physically halting. When I was 9, I had a crush on a boy whose mom drove my school bus, and while I was friends with the boy himself, devised a plan with his mom to meet up at our Disneyland vacations that just so happened to coincide; however, when this plan came to fruition, I, blushed as red as a beet and could not speak to my crush, his mom, or his twin brother. (As read and demonstrated in No Dancing, which features how I handle a different middle school crush). Kenneth was the first real adult crush (me being 19) I had, he was charming and smooth, while being soft spoken and funny. He was one of the guys in the group who rarely spoke but when he did you listened and I desperately wanted to hear more of what he had to say. It was because of Kenneth that I put up with Terrence, after all, you can’t be rude to your crush’s best friend and roommate.

As I dragged my feet to the stock room, still annoyed that I had been banished from the store floor, I paused to peek my head into the lunch room. Still no Terrence, still no trouble. Happy and confident that I didn’t have to deal with Terrence that night, I began to skip. A literal skip down the remainder of the hall, until I turned a corner and ran directly into the person I had been wishing to avoid. “Hey, you up here tonight?” He grabbed my shoulder, stopping me from fulling running into him as I entered the room. I smiled and nodded, shaking his hand off of me before turning to the stock room manager for my job. He waved me off to a folding table piled high with scarves which needed to be tagged, folded, and scanned into inventory. Joined by the new girl, we quietly talked music and store gossip. Time seemed to move quicker than I had expected because at 8:30 PM, the new girl’s alarm went off on her phone, exclaiming she was off and wishing me a good night and to be safe.

The stock room was quiet, quieter than normal considering they usually had some genre-bending music blasting at all times. I called out the stock room manager’s name, a slight echo carrying it to the back of the dark room. The sound of metal scrapping against the cement floor caught my attention, as I turned around I found Terrence, now standing just a few feet behind me. I joked that he scared me and he cited that he wasn't a scary guy. He continued on to say that his manager was off for the night, and “we could just f**k around” for the next thirty minutes. I let out a small half-hearted laugh as I could feel my heart beat quickening in my chest. I pointed back to the still overflowing table of mismanaged scarves and explained that that was my priority right now.

As I walked back to the scarf table, he followed, joining my side at the table, watching for a second how I had been folding the scarves then copying. “If I help you, then who knows what we can do with the time we save?” He looked me up and down as he spoke.

 I laughed again and said, “Like Monopoly? I think I have the app on my phone.” He rolled his eyes and I smiled as I thought I had shut things down. As he continued with his line of questioning, trying to open any dialogue between us, I obliged in short statements. At some point he decided he didn't want to hear about my class schedule and began to skew the conversation to go in a more sexual direction. I, to be fair and honest, can get into a “f**k-it” kind of mood where, determining, on the situation, will play along and see where it takes me, usually tapping out once passing the point of being uncomfortable or bored. This has led to great adventures, but it also led to bad places, such as the stock room that night with Terrence. 

“What is the craziest thing you’ve done at work?” He asked, following me closely as I put the scarves into what I thought to be their homes.

“I got fired from my first job for coming in while I was on a shroom come down.” I shot back. Drugs were not all that crazy, at least for me, and they were a safer topic than sex.

“What is the craziest thing you would do.?” He fired back quickly, not fully waiting for or satisfied with my first answer.

“I don’t know, can you imagine interacting with the public on LSD? That’d be cool...or like really scary.” I shrugged as I tried to keep the topic on drugs and only drugs. “Maybe Molly, but I think I’d get in trouble for chewing gum on the floor, you know?” I asked, hoping it was something he could grab onto.

“Would you ever have sex at work?” Terrence asked, determine to stay on his line of questioning. As soon as he spoke I could feel my heart skip a beat, not out of excitement, but out of fear. While I myself was a large woman, he was an even larger man. I could hear people down the hall in the lunch room and felt reassured that people were close enough, so I continued to play along, thinking that I could get him to change the subject soon. I shrugged, throwing a smile over my shoulder before skipping past a few rows of metal shelves. “Where would you have sex?” He asked, while I had skipped to put distance between us, I found that he was suddenly and almost magically face to face. “Like, where in this store, would you have sex?” His breath hot as he walked forward, causing me to step back.

I could feel my skin begin to crawl and knew that this would be the moment to stop playing the “f**k-it” game, but couldn’t stop myself before smirking and saying, “I don’t know, probably on top of one of these shelves. Think it would hold?” As soon as I spoke I knew I was wrong to, I had justified his questions and was in it now. I watched as he blushed, he, a tall, large man already, looked up at the wobbly metal shelves that were nearly double his height. I could feel myself try to refrain a smile as I tried to imagine what him crawling up the shelves would look like, then stopped as Terrence’s hands grabbed my hips and suddenly pushed me so my back was pressed against the shelves, nowhere to run. His fingers danced across the waist hem of my pants, fingers brushing my stomach, daring to go further down the tight polyester blue pants as he firmly held onto my hips.

“What if I told you that I could f**k you on the roof?” He breathed into my ear, his breath hot and pungent. I put my hands on his chest, pushing him away from me as he tried to get his body closer to mine. “Let me show you the roof.” he pleaded, his hands gripping my body harder.

“No man, I’m good. We were playing. Can we go finish the scarves?” I spoke calmly, he didn’t need to know he was getting a rise out of me. His hands, still grabbing my hips pushed me harder, back into the metal shelf as he processed what I had said.

With one hand squeezing my hip and the other now on my shoulder, pinning me completely to the shelves, he narrowed his eyes and exclaimed, “What you don’t want to f**k me?” He studied my face, his inches away. As he studied my face I studied his, as his face transitioned from one of anger to one of desperation. “Fine, then just like a quick make-out. No one will know.” I shook my head no, and ducked under the arm that had been pressing my body against the shelves, stepping away from the scene and walking quickly towards the stock room door.

His heavy footsteps clanked down the hall, almost as if the Giant was chasing Jack from the kid's story, Jack and the Beanstalk. I tried to maintain my calm, taking in short breathes as I rushed toward the elevator, desperately trying to escape my giant. I pushed the elevator's button a million times, only to find it was one of the rare times that the elevator’s doors opened as soon as you pushed the button. Just as I had repeatedly pressed the open button, I held the "shut door" button down, managing to yell out to Terrence that my shift was over as the doors closed. The elevator, which was fully mirrored, allowed me to have a moment of reflection, taking in my own appearance and telling myself that I was fine. I could feel my body start to relax, the tightness in my shoulders slowly dissolving, as soon as the elevator door's opened up to the main store level.

I ran out of the elevator, immediately setting my sights on one of my best friends and whispered in her ear what had just played out in the stock room. I could feel the assistant manager watching, his boots began to clack on the tiled floor as he walked over to us. As I continued to whisper to my friend, I felt tears well in my eyes and turned to face the assistant manager once he was steps away from where we stood. I wiped my eyes and told him my shift was over and I was clocking out, only to be met with further instruction of cleaning the floor before I was able to leave. My friend, being someone with the most confidence I had ever met as well as being unafraid of anything, told him no, that I was going to go home and he could deal with the mess. The assistant manager's response was nothing but shock, clearly no one had ever talked back to him in this manner, and he did nothing but nod. My friend took my hand, holding it as she escorted me back up to the 4th floor to get my things, and then back down to clock out and leave the store for the night.

The severity of that moment didn’t hit me until about thirty minutes after I had left the store. Being assaulted was nothing new to me, from unwanted touching, leers, being followed, as well as several childhood experiences which I later learned to have not been normal. I had even been afraid for my safety before. In my mind, this moment should not have caused any reaction, but it did for if I hadn't been able to duck under his arm, I'm still not sure what would have happened. Once somewhat safely on BART and in a spell of tears, body shaking, I scoured my phone for someone, anyone to be a support system. For the first time in years, I considered calling my step-mother, who had, for lack of a better term, emotionally abused me for years, but was also a therapist. I landed on calling a coworker who had been off that day. As I explained to my friend what had happened, I realized that I had been crying/yelling into the phone which was met with looks of concern. One kind woman going so far as to actually ask if I was okay after I had hung up the phone.

When I got home I already knew that I was not going to report Terrence. I had felt as if I had egged him on, which I did with my “f**k-it” game, but I had also tried to steer the topic away from sex all together. Plus, if I hadn't egged him on then maybe he wouldn't have had one of his hands halfway down my pants. I also knew that if I turned Terrence in then what did that mean for Kenneth and I? Surely Kenneth would not want to hook up with or even date someone that their best friend attempted to assault? I had suddenly found that I was the person I had told myself I was never going to be. I had always promised myself that I was going to be the person who could stop that pattern, if someone did something to me then I would stop it before they could do anything to anyone else. I wanted to be a protector, but instead I couldn't.

That night, or early the next morning, around 2 AM, Terrence texted me. The text read, “Can’t wait to pick up where we left off xoxo.” I shuddered, physically flinching at my phone as I read the text.

“Dude, I’m not going to have sex with you. Please stop.” I responded, hoping that the straight honesty would work this time.

Within seconds my phone chimed, “I was just playing. I don’t want to f**k you either.”

I was nervous going into work the next day. I wasn't sure how to act or who he told. I was fortunate, for most of the shift he ignored me. I had hoped that he would continue to ignore me for the rest of eternity, but before that shift even ended, he did manage to dole out a compliment telling me I looked good. I tried to keep my distance from Terrence completely, going so far as to leave the lunch room on several occasions when he was in there. Nothing would deter Terrence, months later he would corner me in a bathroom at a friend’s 21st birthday. 

I considered reporting Terrence to HR, but they wouldn't have been much of a help. Our store's HR rep was fairly new and inadequately trained. It took months for me to report the assistant manager and his past behaviors of touching, flirting, and opening asking about my sex life to the District Manager who reported that there was nothing she could do. I knew it was a lie. This woman had all the hiring and firing power in Northern California as well as a whole wealth of knowledge of how to handle these instances; but instead of helping, she sat across from me at a table, and said that that wasn't happening with a straight face, proceeding to warn me that I needed to work harder. That was the final straw. A week later, I had a new job and was eager to leave Terrence and the assistant manager behind. With the exception of a birthday party and a few stray texts, I had escaped Terrence and the stock room. 

© 2021 Haley


Author's Note

Haley
Sorry it took so long for a new story, this one was harder to get back to, but I want to start writing more of the harder things as well! Thank you for reading.

This is also not the end of Terrence! We'll explore the hotel party with the bathroom in a later story!

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Featured Review

This is awful :/ what is worse- the district manager told you they couldn't do anything which is, frankly, bs. A managers job is to provide a safe working environment for employees... And refusing to protect against sexual harassment reinforces to the harasser that its okay to act the way they have and that nothing will happen to them.

What is more, it makes the victim feel like it was their fault.. And it wasn't. Speaking from experience- it's sometimes hard to report or speak out against things as it is and so when someone disregards things - it kinda crushes you... Not that I need to tell you that. 😅 Thankyou for sharing.

Posted 1 Month Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kirsty Hignett

1 Month Ago

That's plain wrong. A manager should not play favourites- especially in regards to serious matters t.. read more
Haley

1 Month Ago

I absolutely agree with all parts of that. I can't make excuses for the HR rep, but she was also new.. read more
Kirsty Hignett

1 Month Ago

Yeah poor training can lead to poor leadership- which isnt necessarily the fault of the 'trained' in.. read more



Reviews

This is the best of the stories of yours I've read so far. Many readers don't mind when a story goes on & on . . . but for me, most of your stories go on & on, beyond my attention span. This one, however, is still very well done in all the aspects where you go on & on. Every word is worth reading. It's not just bullshit going on & on. I'm just saying this kind of writing could exceed many people's attention spans, but it's still strong, vivid, caustic, honest, palpable writing, every word. This is the kind of story where self-honesty is of the utmost importance . . . this is so authentic becuz of your self-honesty. I love how this starts out seeming like a funny story, stockroom shenanigans, la la la . . . but then it just keeps getting darker, but still, we don't realize how dark it gets until the narrator also notices it. We think the narrator is just telling a wild-a*s story for effect . . . but then when the narrator starts to tremble & think about how she's going to deal with this, that's when we realize what a deadly serious story this is. You do a great job of showing that culpability is often very hazy & subject to point of view. This story has a ton of impact on the reader (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 1 Week Ago


Haley

1 Week Ago

Thank you so much! I am working on editing down quite a bit, when writing about your own memories it.. read more
I have re-read this story and you have made it a lot sharper, ironed out the ruffled edges. It's style is casual yet there is a lot of tension within it. The dichotomy breeds mix emotions in the reader and can lead to things being missed. It's foundations are strong.
Really nice work.

Posted 3 Weeks Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Your themes often remind of Bukowski. He wrote of the everyday with rawness and wrote in a simple conversational style.
You find with Bukowski his style is either worshiped or hated.

What I like about your stories are they are raw, some sentences need ironing out but the foundations are there. As Hemingway said “The first draft of anything is s**t.”

You have a lot of talent.

Posted 1 Month Ago


Haley

1 Month Ago

When starting this page I told myself I would iron out some of the messiness (being some of those ch.. read more
Danny Metcalfe

1 Month Ago

Also, when quoting Hemingway I did not mean to say that this draft is 's**t'. As they say, a piece o.. read more
Haley

1 Month Ago

Ha, no worries. I wouldn't be too offended if you did. I always say different strokes for different .. read more
Ah, working life
Catty girls and gropey guys
I've worked alongside many characters in my time, even coming to blows on more than one occasion.
Never in retail though
Going through this is bad enough without having leave your job
Well written
Good luck in your new venture

Posted 1 Month Ago


Haley

1 Month Ago

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! :)
This is awful :/ what is worse- the district manager told you they couldn't do anything which is, frankly, bs. A managers job is to provide a safe working environment for employees... And refusing to protect against sexual harassment reinforces to the harasser that its okay to act the way they have and that nothing will happen to them.

What is more, it makes the victim feel like it was their fault.. And it wasn't. Speaking from experience- it's sometimes hard to report or speak out against things as it is and so when someone disregards things - it kinda crushes you... Not that I need to tell you that. 😅 Thankyou for sharing.

Posted 1 Month Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kirsty Hignett

1 Month Ago

That's plain wrong. A manager should not play favourites- especially in regards to serious matters t.. read more
Haley

1 Month Ago

I absolutely agree with all parts of that. I can't make excuses for the HR rep, but she was also new.. read more
Kirsty Hignett

1 Month Ago

Yeah poor training can lead to poor leadership- which isnt necessarily the fault of the 'trained' in.. read more
This is kind of chilling to be honest. I feel bad for women who have had to endure this crap. You seem to have handled it well for sure.

Personally I can remember two times being in a similar situation with aggressive women. But those situations never got physical at all.

I like your stories!

Posted 1 Month Ago


Haley

1 Month Ago

It is, yes. The last retail job I held.
Frankie

1 Month Ago

Ok thank you. I figured it was. I worked for Target for a few years a long time ago.
read more
Haley

1 Month Ago

That's good, you should. I'm sure having had worked at Target you probably have had some experiences.. read more

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Added on January 20, 2021
Last Updated on February 1, 2021
Tags: nonfiction, short story, quick read, dating, lifestyle, romance, humor, satire

Author

Haley
Haley

CA



About
Menories - Memories or Stories about Men Detailing encounters I've had with men in my life - from short run-in's to those who have had long lasting effects. It's the story of getting into a Lyft at.. more..

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