Chapter 9: Day One
Copyright© 2012 by Coaster2
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 9: Day One - I needed help with math to stay on the football team. That's how it started.
The clock radio said it was six o'clock, but I could have sworn I'd just put my head down. I couldn't avoid it though, so I dragged myself out of bed and into the bathroom to get the day underway. By six-thirty I was dressed and out the door, stopping only at the fast food outlet for a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. I would need to do some in-store shopping today for breakfast supplies. One sip of the coffee reminded me that I wanted to get a decent coffee machine for the store and then make some drinkable coffee.
I was in the store and surveying the produce department before seven o'clock, wondered just where to start. To begin with, one of the refrigeration units wasn't operating and was empty of any produce. I'd have to investigate that problem later. Right now I had to get started on ridding the shelves of out-of-date product as well as some that was unsuitable for sale. I could see an all day project in front of me.
I was about to start when I heard a solid rap-rap-rap on the front door. I looked and a tall young guy was standing there, trying to get my attention. I walked over to the front door and unlocked it.
"You must be Ben," I ventured.
"Yes, sir. Ben Yarrow," he said, sticking out his hand. He was easily over six feet, gangly build, clear face, brown hair and eyes ... otherwise a normal young guy, probably no older than me.
"Well, good to meet you, Ben. But it's Steve, remember. Come on in. We've got lots to do today."
"I'm ready to get at it, whatever you need, Steve."
"Ever worked in the produce department before?"
"Not much, mostly just hauling cartons of stuff in and leaving them for someone else to stack."
"Okay, well you're going to get a crash course with me today. If you're interested, there's a produce manager's job available. If you can handle it, you can earn it."
"Wow, from part time to manager. I wasn't expecting that."
"It hasn't happened yet," I grinned. "You've got some learning to do first."
"Yeah ... I guess," he said, nodding as he looked around.
"Okay, Ben, first job is to get rid of the bad product. Stuff no one will want to buy. Grab a couple of cartons out of the back and start on the first tray up front and work your way back. Try and make the displays look as good as you can. That ought to keep you busy for a while."
"I'm on it," he said with a grin and immediately took off for the back of the store.
If enthusiasm was any indicator, Ben was going to be useful around here.
I got another surprise a few minutes later when Dave Ford showed up.
"This normal time for you, Dave?"
"Yeah. I need to clean out the past-due stuff and organize the coolers. You're pretty early yourself. Keen to get going, huh?"
"I've got a lot to get done here, man. This place is really showing neglect. I've got to bring it up to the boss's standards as fast as possible."
"Who are you using for your meat and poultry suppliers?" Dave asked.
"D & L for beef. You know them?"
"Hell, yes. I've known Del Wilkins and Lubor Tzenko for years. They're good guys. What about pork?"
"Mid-Continent in Lethbridge."
"Another good choice. You're batting a thousand," he said with a smile.
"Not me, the boss, Eddie Chan. He's real picky about who gets to sell us stuff."
"That'll be a big change."
"Good to hear it. Poultry is Drummond Brothers in Surrey and fish is from Inlet Seafood. You'll find they're both first rate too."
"We haven't had any fish in here in a long time. It'll be good to be back in business again. I like what I'm hearing, Kid. This place might just have a chance after all."
I let the "Kid" label go. From his perspective, that's what I was.
"I think you're going to be pleasantly surprised at just what this store is going to look like in the next little while. If you need something, let me know. Oh ... do you have some latex gloves? Ben's going to be handling produce for now, so I want him to be using the right procedures."
"Yeah ... I've got a box back here. We should get some more, though. I'm trying to get by on two pair a day."
"Forget that. Use what you have to use. They aren't as expensive as someone getting sick. You know the supplier, so go ahead and order enough for produce as well, please."
"Sure thing," he said with a grin, turning to walk back behind the counter. He stopped and turned back. "Hey, Kid. Welcome to Vernon." With that he walked back to the cutting area and started his prep work.
It was a good start to the day and I was beginning to feel that we could make some progress toward the goal. It was going to be a big task, however.
Shortly after eight, two of the cashiers arrived at the store, carrying their freshly washed smocks in their hands, showing them to me as they arrived.
"Good. That's the way I want to see them. Nice and clean. Now, before any customer's come in, let's look at the shelves and see what you can help me with."
"What's Benny doing?" Dot asked.
"He's improving the produce section by throwing out the bad product and cleaning up the displays. By the way, does anyone know how long that broken cooler has been off?"
"Like for four months," Tina said. "Eldon wouldn't let us get it fixed, so it just sat empty."
"Is there a local guy who can fix it?" I asked.
I got two shrugs. I would have to find someone. Maybe Dave knew someone and I headed back to the meat department.
"Dave, do you know who repairs coolers around here?"
"Yeah ... there's a local guy. He's pretty good and doesn't take forever to show up. You want I should call him?"
"Yes, please. Are your coolers all running properly?"
"I got one that the thermostat is acting up. We should get that fixed at the same time if you're going to do that produce cooler."
"Good. Let's do that. By the way, do you have enough smocks?"
"Got one for every day of the week," he said.
"Eldon broke down and did the right thing, huh."
"Hell no, I bought them myself."
I was shaking my head at the stupid things that my predecessor had ordered.
"Let me know what they cost and I'll reimburse you. From now on, it's a store cost."
"Great. I won't argue that," he grinned.
I headed back to the front of the store again. As I approached the front, I saw a tall, slim man standing by the cashiers. As I got closer, I could see he was oriental and I guessed who he might be.
"Hi, I'm Steve Black," I said, holding out my hand. "You must be Arnold."
He smiled and nodded. "Yes, that I am. Arnold Sung, at your service."
There wasn't a hint of an accent and I was relieved. Our communications shouldn't be a problem.
"I thought it would be best if you and I spent some time on office procedures. I know Eddie gave you a crash course before you left to come here, but I think we need to get the office operating properly first. It looks like you've made some strides already if the cashiers and the young man in produce are any indication."
"I had to start somewhere. It was, and still is, a mess, Arnold. It was like the previous owners just abandoned it. I'm amazed anyone would shop here."
"That's pretty much what I saw when Eddie and I first visited here. One of the reasons he chose you to come here is because you are young and energetic. He knew what you were walking into, but he guessed you would take it as a challenge and dig right in. From what I can see in the first couple of hours, Eddie was right."
"I sure hope I've got the strength to do this," I said. "I've been spending some of Eddie's money already, so I guess I'd better make sure I'm not out of line."
"Let's go up to the office and we can talk about it," he said with a friendly smile.
I walked upstairs and Arnold followed me. I flicked the lights on in the office and we sat at the desk. I explained what decisions I'd already made and where I'd spent some of Eddie's money. Arnold said nothing, but was nodding acknowledgement as I talked.
"You haven't done anything that didn't need to be done, Steve. I'm just pleased you took the initiative and didn't wait to get permission from anyone. I think the big thing you've got to worry about is having enough staff. Right now there aren't enough people to run this place properly. You need to find some recruits and quickly too."
"Yeah ... I know. I need a stock boy, a weekend boy, and maybe another front end girl. There's no one in dairy or bakery and I haven't even considered home delivery yet. I've got a pretty good guy I think in meat, but he shouldn't be the Lone Ranger if this store is going to be anything. An assistant or apprentice would make sense."
Again, Arnold was nodding and not disagreeing with my comments.
"Eddie bought this store for a very low price, Steve. He knows how much time and effort is going to have to go into making it a store he would be proud of. That also means money, and he's prepared to spend it provided it goes in the right places. You know how the West Van store worked. You follow that model and you'll be fine. If it's something big, talk to me or Eddie. But as far as staffing and fixing things to work right, it's your baby."
"Should I be getting a couple of signs? Under New Management and Top Valu Foods?"
Arnold smiled. "Both looked after and on the way. The New Management banner should be here today and the store sign will be installed later this week. We've got a painter coming today or tomorrow to paint the front of the store a nice, bright white. Give it a new, clean look. When that's done, he'll do the exposed sides as well."
"Great. That'll really help. I've got to attract some customers. You could have shot a cannon through this place yesterday and not hit anyone."
"Corporate neglect, Steve. The Calgary head office of Super Value just forgot about this store. Amazingly, it still made a bit of money, but that wasn't going to last long. It was going down hill pretty quickly. We've got a hell of an opportunity here. I hope you walk away from here at the end of the summer feeling pretty damn good about this place," he smiled.
"I'm hoping for just that. It's great experience, that's for sure. And ... I guess knowing what Eddie wants his store to be like is a big help too. I've been around him for five years now and I think I know how he thinks."
"I'm sure you do. Now, let's have a look at the paperwork and see what's been going on."
We broke for lunch just after twelve and I did a tour of the store, introducing Arnold to the meagre staff. I could see progress, especially in the produce department. Ben had been beavering away steadily cleaning out the bad product and rearranging the displays. It was looking better already.
"Take a break, Ben. You're doing a good job. Thank you," I said.
"Sure thing, Steve. It does look better, doesn't it?" he said, more to himself I thought.
As Arnold and I walked across the street, he commented, "You have a nice way with people, Steve. You encourage them. That's a good strategy. They need to feel that what they're doing is worthwhile. It's the little stuff that makes a difference sometimes."
"You seem to know a lot about the business and Eddie. I don't remember meeting you before. What do you do?"
"I'm Eddie's business partner. A silent partner. Together we invest in projects that we think are worthwhile. Eddie isn't just in the grocery business, although that's his first love. He has some other holdings as well. I'm a pretty good analyst and he's a pretty good operator. That's what makes our partnership work."
"Well, you've got him beat on communications, too," I joked.
"Eddie's been in this country for over thirty years and you'd think he just got off the boat," Arnold laughed. "But ... it doesn't seem to matter to him. He just bulldozes his way along, doing what he has to do. You seem to have gotten along with him well."
"Yeah. Well, he's been good to me and he's not hard to work for once you figure out what he wants. He was pretty patient with me when I first started. I'd never had a job before and I had to learn how to work first."
"Eddie started working for his father when he was nine years old. He's spent a long time learning what it takes to be successful. For him, it's been hard work and sticking with it. Since we teamed up, I've been trying to help him make it easier, but he likes the old tried and true methods. It's what he knows and what he trusts."
I nodded. That sounded like Eddie all right.
"How long are you here for?" I asked during lunch.
"To the end of the week. I'll be back in a couple of weeks, probably twice a month to see how you are getting on." He passed me a business card. "Here's how you can get in touch with me if you need some help or you have any questions. We won't leave you here without some help."
"Thanks. That had me worried. I'm not really ready for management yet. I've got a lot to learn, so I'm a bit scared I'm going to make a mistake or do something really wrong."
He nodded. "That's a natural feeling. But Eddie has a sixth sense about people. He figured you could cope and if you did get into trouble, you'd call for help. That's what you want to remember. Don't try and go it alone if you get in over your head. Call for help."
"Thanks. That does make me feel a bit better. When I got here yesterday, I wondered if I'd made a huge mistake when I agreed to come. Maybe if we can make some progress this week, I'll feel a little better."
"Eddie tells me you've got a girlfriend and it's serious between you two."
"Yeah, Dory. Doryanna Paulson. We met my last year of high school and we've just finished our second year of college. I'm pretty sure we'll get married after we graduate and both have a job."
"Good for you," he smiled. "That's always a good incentive. Make sure you call her regularly. You don't want to lose contact and let some other guy move in on your territory."
"Yeah. I missed calling her last night. I'll make sure I call her tonight. Where are you staying?"
"I have a friend in Armstrong. I'm staying with her. It's not a long drive."
"Lucky guy. I wish Dory was here with me."
Arnold laughed. "The lady I'm staying with is my aunt and she's sixty-six."
"Oh well, at least you get the home cooked meals."
He was shaking his head. "She's not a great cook, Steve. I eat there as little as possible. However, she is family and I'm expected to stay there."
I nodded. I understood.
When I walked out of the store that afternoon I could see progress. The refrigeration man had arrived and fixed Dave's thermostat. He had to order a part for the produce cooler, but it was expected to arrive tomorrow afternoon and he would bring it over. With any luck, we'd have it back in operation on Thursday.
By the time I had dragged myself back to the motel, it was almost seven o'clock. I contemplated taking a shower, but decided not to bother. I saw a restaurant just up the street and chose to have dinner there and come back to the motel to make my phone calls. My parents would be wondering what happened to me if I didn't. I'd probably get a lecture about not calling them last night. I'd probably get that same lecture from Dory, too.
"Hi, Dad, it's me. Thought I'd call and let you know I arrived in Vernon and I'm on the job already."
"Good to hear from you, Steve. We were a little worried we didn't hear from you last night."