Wednesday, July 25, 2007


A few years ago I worked in a very strange little place. I decided to give up my cushy, easy Marketing Communications job with a trade association and venture into the emerging dot-com industry (before the bottom dropped out in 2001). But this was no ordinary high-tech dot-com company. In fact, this was BARELY a dot-com company. It was BARELY a company. It was a mistake on my part, but one of those experiences where you learn a lot about life and that you'd never give back. There are so many stories I could share about this place (and another job that I'll blog about later), but I'll start with this one...

It was an online men's apparel store specializing in dress shirts and suits. 99% of the online stuff was handled by the owner who trusted practically NO ONE else with this. Thus, the rest of us were relegated to stocking, fulfilling orders, trying to look busy and helping with walk-in guests.

When you walked into the place (it was basically a big warehouse* with a pseudo-storefront in downtown Indianapolis), an alarm would beep so we knew someone had entered the building. It was our common practice to announce our names when we walked in so everyone could ignore the alarm. Most of us would just yell, "It's me!!" when walking in, assuming we knew each other's voices well enough--and this worked just fine. But there was one guy, Larry, who only worked with us on occasional Saturdays, filling in on the showroom floor for walk-in traffic. He had a history with the owner and supposedly knew how to sell men's apparel (but as I think about it, I'm not sure he had ANY idea what he was doing--but he was an incredibly nice man). Larry couldn't get used to the idea of yelling, "It's me!" or "Just me!" when he walked in like the rest of us. For some strange reason, what he did still cracks me up to this day--and I'm probably the only one that finds it so funny. The door would open and he'd hear the three beeps from the alarm (this is normal) and he'd nervously pause for a few seconds and then utter, "...uhhhh....Larry?" like it was a question or as if some machine was going to validate that it was, indeed, Larry. So, that's it. I know it's not a strong anecdote, but that's what I have today. Truly, to this day, whenever I walk into a door I almost always want to yell out, "It's me!". In fact, I even did it a few times when I first switched jobs.

*"It's like a secret warehouse in New York City" (that's an inside joke for just some of my readers)


Andrea said...

I've never heard this story. Are you going to share the one where your boss teaches you how to cut with scissors?

uvualpie said...

I can't believe you never told your wife this story... you must have told it to me three or four times. In fact, "Uh, Larry" is a common phrase at my house. And I work with a guy named Larry and I often say "Uh, Larry" as he's punching me again and again in the gut. I don't like Larry much.