A Job of Power

Matthew Thompson

© Copyright 2007 by Matthew Thompson

Photo of a warehouse interior.

 “The least of learning is done in the classrooms.” ... Thomas Merton

 I recently quit my first official job to come to college. It was really hard to quit, but I knew it had to be done even though I still had an impossible task, one that will never get done. The impossibility was the warehouse, that devilish warehouse that could never be sorted through even in a lifetime, because of its constant change in shape, and then the never changing musty basement that no ones like to go down in and get stuff from. The warehouse was my main responsibility, it was my job to keep the warehouse organized, and clean, besides knowing where everything was in it. I never thought that I would see something impossible in my lifetime; I thought everything was possible; never the less, I feel this job has moved me to a more powerful and happy life in so many ways.

 This was no ordinary job; it was a job full of life lessons and a quest for the knowledge to do the job to the best of my ability. This tale takes place in a small town in western Oklahoma in the world of everyone knowing everyone and constant turmoil of people against government. Simple cases go to the supreme court of appeals and even some of our city leaders are being indited by a grand jury. If you have ever ventured west on I-40 to go to Texas or another state you have probably driven by the town with the last McDonald’s in Oklahoma, the amazing Elk City, Oklahoma where my story takes place, along with some other small towns along the way, that I occasionally have to make deliveries to.

 My job included everything, if you could think of it, I probably did it: from delivering, to repairing, cleaning, and everything else possible at Merrifield Office Supply, even being a mechanic sometimes. Where the people that I worked with were amazing characters and I learned the language of everything office related to a point that you would not believe. I can tell you the way your desk is put together, the chair you sit in, the paper that you use, the pen you write your notes with, the printer you used to print off your paper, and even the copiers that make those horrendous tests that we all have to take.

I felt it necessary to learn the language in order to do my job to the fullest. Since I left my former coworkers, being Karen W., Karen D., Shelly, Anita, the Kilhopher girls, Darrel, Jon, Rhonda, Scott, and Lonnie, they have all really missed me and they want me to come back, but I have put the power that this job gave me to the ultimate test, the test of life. When I went back to get some stuff that I needed for school on labor day weekend, Karen D. wrote on my sack “they really miss me, Help.” Which really hit me hard but I have a new job, to succeed in life.

 My adventure for knowledge and power first began after Memorial Day 2005. My first day was nothing compared to my last day, but in so many ways I was glad to end my knowledge quest that lead to my unknowing growth in power in so many things, like the simple knowledge of desks. I can fix them or anything else that you can think of to do with office equipment. My power let me go places that I would have never have gotten to without the assistance of someone.

 There were several things that were my responsibility to get done, which included, taking out the trash, bringing stuff in that I took out in the morning, or what we got in on a truck. There was also making sure that the warehouses were locked, and the lights were turned off. But this was just the basic stuff that I had to do every day, I also had to remember what we had in stock, what we were out of, where to find stuff that we had. Which place to order it from if we were out, how many we had; I was the computer that kept track of stock. This lead me to a lot of stress that I had to deal with, and I did take care of it with daily trips to Wal-Mart, to just go and relax.

 The day my adventure ended was horrible; I thought that I would never get to go home. I had several things to do, and did not even get half of them done. All I know was that I was so tired of that job by the time I finally got to leave, certain parts of my life became easier than it was. I never had to remember to make sure and get the daily stuff done as well as retain information about stock. I am so glad to be freed of a life of recollection of where things are, to if we have them, or even if we ever got them. I am so glad to be free, “as free as the wind blows.”

 My knowledge was everything, from remembering, to organizing, cleaning, delivering, and everything else that added to my vast knowledge. This knowledge gave me power when I just simply went on deliveries, such as my twice a week deliveries to our local hospital, this power gave me enough strength to reach out and make new friends, which is exactly what I did, not only at our hospital but at many other places where I became a regular. Another power that came about from this job was that I was allowed to drive a company vehicle which most jobs do not allow you to do; I loved it because I hate deskwork, and it got me away from that devil warehouse.

 Well I still have not told you told you where exactly I worked in detail yet, the best way to describe it is as history so let me explain. I worked in an old beer warehouse, the oldest still standing building in Elk City, it used to be where the beer came in and was stored because the original name of Elk City was Busch. They named it Busch because they wanted Anheuser-Busch to put in a brewery, and then they named it Crowe, but my main job was to clean and organize this amazing place with the original wood floor that is still intact. You can still see the signatures and marks from the people who built it, and worked in it, especially in the dank, musty basement. I also worked in a converted movie theatre that is now the showroom and warehouse, which is awesome, even though I still wish it was a movie theater. And then some good old warehouses, some old oilfield buildings and others just warehouses, and a few containers, but anyways lets get into the story of my life at Merrifield Office Supply.

 The first day was amazing but I still had the idea in my head that I could quit any day, which I kept until Darrel told me that he would help me go to college which ended my quit at anytime idea entirely. But what I did on my first day was simply clean the showroom and some other simple stuff, and got some paper, but more importantly I started to learn the language that would take me to a great place of power in my life and the beginning is always important.

 I started off putting stuff together like chairs, and odd office products, and then I moved up to desks and then I finally got to go make deliveries and go places to set up furniture. My first memory of setting up furniture was at IPS where before I even went to the place I had to put a bunch of bookcases together and then take them out there in the good old blue van, which in and of itself is an experience. But when I finally got out to IPS, Jon, Scott, and Lonnie were already out there. Now let me formally introduce them.

 Jon is the oldest Merrifield boy who is the Xerox sales representative for that area and he also does not like to do hard labor unless he has to. Scott is Jon’s little brother and knows how to work and he also fixes stuff and is the welding guy. Lonnie is the computer and machine guy, but before that he did my job, so he knows how hard my job actually was. Lonnie and me usually talked when I was putting stuff together and he was working on machines, like the laminator that he could almost never fix, with his unique way of taking the temperature from the machine with a meat thermometer. For instance I remember one conversation in particular.

 “Why does Darrel always hire football boys, they never last.”

 “I don’t know the few that I have worked with were just lazy and didn’t wanna carry stuff upstairs and never put stuff together fast enough.”

 “I’ve told him not to hire them I don’t know how many times, but I also remember when he said that his boys would never work here and they are working here now.”

 “Well if you have a set job that is not crappy like Jon and Scott, then I wouldn’t wanna go and get a real job either.”

 Lonnie is so full of stories that made my day go by when we could talk, but often times he was out on service calls fixing copiers and stuff. It was even harder for me to talk to him towards my last few months, when he went to work for Coca-Cola and only worked at Merrifield’s on Tuesdays and some Wednesdays.

 Well I also spent a lot of time in the store with the girls, doing and getting little things that they were not allowed to do, like move paper. Karen Whitely always said “I’m gonna kick your fanny,” but she never did cause she could never get her leg up high enough she is only like four foot something and old with her blonde permed hair that she always has had. But I have to admit she is funny. Then there is Shelly who is like five foot with usually short hair and also some different colors; I guess you would say she is the eccentric personality of the gang. Karen Dixon is Lonnie’s wife and she is the best, she is the bookkeeper and man is she funny. She normally talks in a funny accent when she comes in from picking up the kids not necessarily just hers. Then there is Rhonda, Jon’s wife who comes in when her girls are not busy doing something that she needs to go to, which is sometimes rarely.

 Anita and Darrel are the owners, along with the boys but they own the most. Darrel is a little bit old fashioned but what do you expect, he always goes out for coffee and is probably the best boss ever because if you need to do something personal or school related he will let you go on the day of if you tell him. You do not even have to tell him just as long as you tell someone. Darrel also helped my get to my experience here in college, by making sure I have what I need to survive, and I am truly grateful to him for that; he in a sense was and is my benefactor; he wants me to succeed in life. Anita is an amazing lady she is so nice and thrifty it is amazing, she is such a bright person, and no one can really bring her down. Ashley and Danielle are the Kilhopher girls who I knew even before I started to work at Merrifield’s and plus they both just started not to long ago but they are still a part of the story. There are a few other people that I will add in the future but this is it for now.

Well now I will get to the gist of the story, I never thought that office supplies would do anything for me but they did. The language took me to such a high level of power. The people that I met were cool, nice, and everything in between. Some had authority and some did not, and that is why I loved working there. I got to meet bank presidents, and was able to get to know them on a personal level, which is better than knowing them on a business level. And then there is the little people who have little to no power, like Stormy who took Keri’s place at the hospital, Keri was the best person at the hospital she always knew what to say, but so did Stormy, she would always complain though cause I brought her more stuff to put away but it was my job, and putting away the stuff I brought her was hers. There was also Justin, Susan, Linda, Jessica, and some more people there and they were all good friends all so nice. I would have never thought though that people who essentially do my kind of job could be so friendly, because I was never very friendly when I was managing the warehouse from hell. But then again I was doing the job of several people, but only I did it all by my self, some how.

 There were some people that were in a sense my assistants, even though they did not last to long; I told them what to do and if they did not do it then I got to yell at them, and ask them why they haven’t gotten this done. This was probably the most enjoyable part of my job, because I was the boss, which gave me the power to go out into the world and become a more outspoken and determined person.

 But as I recall this memory it only seems to get stronger when I go and visit Merrifield’s, on my last trip home I went in to pick some stuff up and realized the difference that there was without my presence, there were boxes stacked every which way in the showroom, stuff that had not been delivered for days, it was truly a life changing experience working there. Having so much power in such a small place makes all the difference in a person. You can see it in me today; I help people with problems from computers to anything else, even life problems. This is one thing that I know has changed about me I can help people, all because I can communicate better. Which I was not able to do before I started to work there, so I believe the two best things that came out of this job of power is one of communication and power, which are essential to each other.

 But the real power was what I got from outside of work, when I see these people out in the real world and I am able to talk to them. Power, that is what I feel I have, knowing people upon people gives me a certain power that cannot be expressed in any way other than that. My unique language gave me enough strength to gain power in the real world, which is more or less one of the best powers to have; probably the only one greater is that of life, which I cannot control at all.

 But power is sometimes more than it is cut out to be, but then again this power got me here, to where I am now. College, I am still using this power to go out into the real world and make my life the best I can. My knowledge of everything has lead me to power, a power that sometimes I do not even know what to do with, but I have it and will always have it. I am planning on never losing this power, or my amazing language; however, I must still learn more of my language as it changes through time; I never plan to quit learning. If I did, then I would never want to learn again, and I love to learn there is no question about it. Learning is life, and life if full of learning, so I plan on learning as much as I can. Period. No questions asked.

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