My brief stint at Rent-A-Center was filled with many small moments of WFT! There were of course the few larger ones like the post on the Stuff of My Nightmares, but there were many smaller ones not quite worthy of a singular story but still, WTF! THIS was one of the biggest reasons I wanted out.
On my first day at the Joliet location, I get to go hang out with the assistant manager, Rick. He goes over the ‘route’ that I would be responsible for, and then we go drive it to retrieve a few items from some people who haven’t paid. It goes pretty uneventful, as most of the people were apparently pretty well known and were expecting us to come and get the stuff. A few handed us money right there so they could keep it but there were no real problems. It was about noon so he said we should stop for lunch, his treat.
We stopped at a local restaurant/bar and sat at the bar to order food. He then ordered both of us a beer. I just looked at him a little funny and he said ‘Welcome to Rent-A-Center’. So we drank our beer. Our food came a few minutes later along with another round of beers. He begins telling me about all the usual people I will meet on the route, who will hand me money when I show up, who will just give us the stuff back and who will be a pain. Next thing I know we are 6 beers into it and it is 2:00 in the afternoon. He pays our bill and we head back to the store. When we get there the manager asks him if I got ‘initiated’. Rick just replied by belching, to which the manager told me ‘it has only begun’. Not sure what that meant at the time, not sure I wanted to.
At 7:00 we get a report of everyone on our ‘routes’ who is late making a payment. We start working calls to people into this list along with helping anyone coming in for the last hour. At 8:00 we lock the doors and concentrate on the collection calls only until 9:00, then we are done. So at 8:00, the manager opens the cash drawer and hands $40 to the driver, who leaves and goes next door somewhere (we were located in a strip mall). A few minutes later he walks back in and locks the door, carrying 2 cases of beer. I just look at the other guys making calls like me as I see the driver walk back to our call room with the beer. He opens one of the cases up and hands everyone a beer as he cracks one open himself. “Drink up! makes the calls easier.” says the assistant manager. I look around and everyone is engrossed in their calls and beers. So I drink mine while making calls.
An hour later and maybe 4 more beers later it is 9:00 and time to stop calling. So we clean up our paperwork and by 9:15 get ready to leave. As we go out to the lot to our cars I am questioning my ability to drive. Yes, I made stupid decisions in the past. As I get into my car, the store manager says “Yo, you ain’t done yet, follow us.”. Now I am a little scared. For some reason I follow them anyway and we end up at a bar 2 blocks down. It is Monday night and the MNF game is one, and there is a free buffet. We go in and a round of beers in purchase and we drink yet more beer while engorging ourselves on this buffet. I can’t clearly remember what happened in the next few hours, but all I remember is next thing I knew it was 11:00 and I had a 45 minute drive home still. Great. These guys are still drinking and now pounding down shots, which I decline (first smart thing I did) and I manage to leave the place and start heading home. At this time the expressway I took to get home was pretty empty, both in traffic and in the things around it. It was like driving down a country highway thru cornfields at the time. About 15 minutes into this I decided I had to pee, but there were no exits (at that time) for a while so I pulled over under an overpass and peed behind the bridge. All that kept going thru my head was “I’m gonna get arrested for peeing on a bridge…”, however I managed to finish and be on my way. I got home with no incident and vowed from that day on to NOT do that ever again. I also vowed that I was leaving this place as fast as I could, for the sake of my liver, and thus began my movement towards the printing world.
Kids, don’t drink and drive. It was stupid on my part and I only present it because I am who I am, warts and all. I have done bad things in my past and I have done good things in my past. They are a part of me that can’t be erased, hopefully you laugh a bit at it and learn not to repeat it (if it was bad).