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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vality 40 years ago

Vality “So Vality employees can spend Christmas Eve home with their families! This store was now closed!” Bill Levin, the Vality Store President, voice repeated for the second time within the past hour. The sun had set into the hills of Montville across the Thames River beyond Gales Ferry. The cold winter wind sweep down Dragon hill and across Vality’s parking lot, with snow flurries dancing in arctic wind.

Bill Levin’s voice had to bounce off the giant five panes of glass windows with their two dozen or so artificial squares with the fake froze sprayed in each bottom right hand corner. Back to the “Ski” store, for he had used the sound intercom in the courtesy booth, to make his announcement, so voice boom threw out the four corners of the store. “So Vality employees can spend Christmas Eve home with their families! This store was now closed!”

But his words fall on deaf ears as the customers continued to shop. It was about this time, Mr. Grillo sent me from the Camera Department out into the snow to help clear the parking lot of shopping carts.

It had been snowing all day long. Now after the sun had set, winter winds still blowing snow flurries around. I push my first dozen or so of shopping carts in the store, passed the courtesy booth, turning at the Jewelry counter and down the middle of the store. Then a hard right into the railing was facing the snack bar. It did not matter where the first shopping carts landed, because the second group of carts would push them in to place. It was only as I left the second group of carts I heard Bill Levin yelled at me, “Come on, Bartolomeo! Push those cars, Bartolomeo!” I quickly fled back into the park lot and turned with more carts. “Come on, Bartolomeo! Push those cars, Bartolomeo!” Levin’s voiced egg me on. Bang! The Third group of carts, now one row of carts was done. Now for the second row of carts, “Come on, Bartolomeo! Push those cars, Bartolomeo!” Mr. Levin’s voice was beginning to piss me off. Bang! Second…and third groups of carts, “Come on, Bartolomeo! Push those cars, Bartolomeo!” Bang! Finally the group of carts I ram home as Bill Levin called out. “Come on, Bartolomeo! Push those cars, Bartolomeo! Let’s moving it, Bartolomeo!”

By now I was becoming really pissed as I rammed home the last group of shopping carts. I was tired and going on 50+ hour that week, but there was Bill Levin still egging me on. I look across the shopping carts at Bill Levin standing at the snack bar with most of the Vality management staff and his wife and two step kids. For reasons only know to God and maybe Charles Dickens, I called out to Bill Levin in my best fake English accent, “Merry Christmas, Ebenezer!” And then I left to get more shopping carts.

Maybe I just too tired the think, or just too tired to care at the time, but it never occur to me called the president of store, “Ebenezer!” was not a good thing to do. Never mind I did not called him, “Ebenezer Scrooge!” just “Ebenezer!” which looking back these forty years maybe, just maybe I could apologize and say I am sorry. But that was not in the cards that Christmas Eve.

Being Eighteen or Nineteen years ago at the time, I wore the blind faith of native stupid around my neck. So as I pushed the next group of cart into the store, Mr. Bill Levin standing there by the jewelry cases. Now maybe I really did not care or I as just too tired to care when he started with, “Bartolomeo! I am going to fix you! So you can not call me a cheap Son of Bitch!”

Why I did not keep my mouth shut I will never know. Maybe it was the stupidly of youth shining through. Instead my mouth was running on autopilot. “Sir, I never, ever called you cheap!” Which was true I never called Mr. Levin “cheap”. Nor did I ever called him a SOB, either seem to get lost there, too. But I will never know what he was going to say next, because Mr. Levin had spun around and called out, “Grillo, come talk to your employee!”

Now the idea that I had crossed the line somehow slowly began to dawn on me. Like the Ghost of Christmas Past Grillo descended upon me. He basically told me to behave myself and quit picking on Mr. Levin. Then he returned to the Christmas party. But yet his eyes, I swear, were laughing at me as he left.

The next two gentlemen I ran into by the greeting card display were not Ghost of Christmas Present. Nor they were any other Christmas spirit. Somewhere in their childhood someone had stolen their sense of Christmas spirit. And that saddens me.

By the time I reached the Camera Department ran into The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. With his reading glass on his head, he was picking on Ralph, the Camera manager. He told me to behave my self and not to pick on Mr. Levin. Then he invited Ralph to join the Christmas party. He also told me to get out of my wet snow coat and join the Christmas party, which I did.

Merry Christmas!