Hey guys. How’s everybody doing? Some of you might have heard that a company called Hastings filed for bankruptcy the other day. If you’ve never seen one they’re not unlike a Barnes & Noble, or even a Best Buy in some ways. They were a weird company because they were a Frankenstein’s monster of several kinds of store. When I worked there they were mainly a video rental store, with a music department, and a book department. The main thing was always the video rental though. Every part of the store was set up to serve that section most. I’ve never really come right out and said it, but Megatainment is largely based on that chain of stores because I worked for them for seven years or so. I didn’t do the video rental stuff because it would have dated the store to the point that people would get taken out of the story with my glacial pacing. I never made a big deal about it because I always thought that if I ever needed to get a retail job again I might need the references and Hastings was notoriously vengeful toward past employees, regardless of how you left. I gave notice, and left on good terms, but you never could tell with them. The management above the store level was just shy of psychotic. Honestly, I’m not really surprised that they finally failed. They were in a spiral for decades; unable to negotiate the waters of the new entertainment landscape. Rentals were still a thing even up to the end, because there were always people in town who didn’t want to, or couldn’t afford, internet. CDs fell out of favor to the point that there was little more than a single shelf at my old store in the end, and books never made enough to support the store. It was a long, grim, slide to the end. They gave it their all for quite a while though, but they could never get the deals to be really competitive with places that specialized in one area. They were always a little more expensive than every place else, and never had what you needed, you had to special order it. It always took 2 weeks. Eventually people realized that you could get it in 3 days from Amazon, at a lower price, and started doing that instead. That happened across all the departments at various times, in various ways. The Apple destroyed music, then Netflix got the movies, Amazon took down books. The physical store for entertainment is fading away. It’s really very sad.
I hated Hastings. I also loved it. My relationship with the store was abusive. They treated the employees like garbage, but we needed them, at least I did. I had so much trouble getting a job that I always felt trapped. People would ask why I didn’t leave when I hated it so much, but I couldn’t just go to a different place and start over. For whatever reason I have a ridiculously difficult time getting jobs. I suspect it’s because I don’t really take anything seriously. We’re all just corpses dancing in a graveyard in my head, so I don’t understand why every one is so serious about stupid things. If you want me to sell widgets just put me on the floor and I’ll sell them, but don’t expect me to believe that widgets are important. They just aren’t. They’re something to distract us from the constant misery of existence. That said, if widgets alleviate existential misery for people I’m happy to get them to as many people as I can. Just be happy when you ask and I’ll happily do my best to get you your fucking widget. But I digress…
On the other hand, I loved my store. My coworkers were the only friends I had. I’ve never been the kind of person who goes out and makes friends at bars, or whatever people do to connect with each other, so work was the only time I interacted with people. The rest of the staff were the only ones that I could depend on to be nice to me most of the time. Some of my coworkers became real friends. People I keep in touch with even now. Others just faded in and out of my life. Turnover in my store was insane, but we had a few pillars that could be depended upon. I became one of those. I was everyone’s older brother. Between Failures is the story of what I loved about work, which is everything but work. Helping people in whatever twisted way I thought was best is how I lived for all those years. In a lot of ways the comic is me just trying to make sense of all of that; trying to find the point of life in the mundanity of life as I experienced it.
My friends and I really did try to make movies. We made bad choices about dating other employees. We fought over meaningless things, made up, then fought again. It was Game Of Thrones on the smallest possible scale. The reason so much of the comic has the echo of truth in it is because a lot of it really happened to me. I worked with a lady who had a cousin at the home office, so she always warned us about visits from there. We had a string of young managers who struggled to succeed. Some of whom I got way too close to. We did ridiculous things like turning off the lights to mess with each other. Some of us never really got along, but we respected each other’s work ethic in spite of that. All of that stuff offset the constant misery brought on by headquarters and the customers. The only thing I miss about that time in my life is the people I enjoyed working with. Little people with big dreams trying to survive in the times between.
My old store still has the feeling of home to me. Even though it has changed a lot since I worked there. There are fixtures that still exist, the ceiling, the carpet, the mess… It’s still this place that I lived in for years. I passed it on to others, and now it’s finally going away for good. I’m much more deeply conflicted about it than I expected. The store was a real place that I existed as a part of for a while. Soon this comic will be the only way people can experience a part of that, the same way someday it will be the only way people can get a sense of who I was. A lot of my life has been colored by my struggle against impermanence. There’s no way to win against it I finally decided. We just need to learn to try and make the limited time we get as good as it can be for as many people as we can. This comic has always been my attempt to help people who lived in a way similar to how I did. I wanted to show them that there’s hope. You just have to appreciate the people who’re trapped between failures with.
hello world the teen is back! I returned from my brothers about a week ago. it went better than most of our other visits. he was pleasant the majority of the time and we didn’t hardly fight. there was one disagreement but other than that all was well. I helped with jones (the horse) and got to give him treats and pet him and feed him other than that I cleaned and cooked a bit and helped around the house. we got all of my parents belongings from my brothers shed and went through it and decided who got what. I know it seems wrong to go through my moms stuff considering she’s still alive but my brother was eager to clean out his shed so we sorted everything out and I took a box of things to seem if my mom wanted them the next time we visit. there wasn’t a whole lot though. we lost a lot of things moving various times. all our family photo albums were lost so my search for pictures for the senior slideshow is postponed, hopefully my aunt will have enough photos for me to use. when I arrived home the dogs were very excited. they still act like I’m going to disappear any moment jts dog Dorothy and my dog sissy have been stuck to me like glue. I’m not gonna lie its getting old Dorothy is to big to try to be in my lap all the time.jackie may have missed me for a split second but I’m pretty sure he no longer does though I’m sure hes glad he doesn’t have to cook anymore and my uncle is glad I’m the one cooking again so he says. I’m excited about the new baby Flint. he’s very cute and has a lot of hair I cant wait to meet him eventually. ive decided I should be his adopted aunt although I’m not sure his mom agrees. I went and seen the movie central intelligence it was funnier than I expected the rocks character in it was amusing. seeing the rock in a unicorn tshirt made it worth the watch. I have less than a month until school starts I cant say I’m thrilled but I’m anxious for my senior year. this summer has gone much to quickly for my liking though. last night Jackie showed me how to work the push mower and I mowed the lawn it very much needed it. it wasn’t the worst experience but my hands seem to be forming blister and I ended up with various bug bites and dripping swear but I needed the exercise so that’s good atleast. now for future reference I know how a lawn mower works. Jackie saved the world one tiny toad at a time while I mowed assuring they were a safe distance from me.