Friday, August 21, 2009

I fell in love with her, my little Surfer Girl

I lived a very privileged life growing up...I went to a private school, had a couple of cars passed on to me by my parents (including a Jag that I trashed only a few weeks after receiving my license...that's kind of a fun story to tell, I might post about it some time), and I didn't have to work through high school. I was free to hang out on weekends and surf and after school was also spent at the beach or doing homework and just hanging out. It was a very rude awakening then for little princess me when the summer I graduated high school my Dad told me it was time to find myself a job. I figured I would just continue to hang out, collect allowance, and attend college for 12 or whatever hours a week. I bitched and cried and didn't want to get one. The truth is, I hate change. I was overwhelmed at the thought of starting college and getting a job for the first time all at once. So I searched and searched and got an interview at Target and got the job, but then decided I didn't want to work there at all. I spread my search out further and decided since I was planning on moving to Huntington Beach, I might as well look for a job there. I ended up getting called in for interviews at both the Jack's Newport location and the Jack's Huntington location. I was skinnier then and thought I looked cute in a surf brand tank, some jeans, and some Reef sandals, but when I was offered the job at the Huntington location the manager was like "We wear mostly t-shirts and jeans here, nothing too revealing" so I took it to mean I wasn't allowed to wear my tank top anymore. It blew my mind to then see what the girls from the girls' store would get away with wearing and I laughed later when my friend Crystal told me she had basically been told the only thing that we weren't allowed to show up in was just our bathing suits.

Anyway, so I started work the day before I started my first day of college and I was nervous. I didn't know the protocals. I didn't know if I had to ask permission to use the bathroom quickly or anything and I wanted to do a good job (because while I am lazy off the job, I like to do a really good job when I am working). The first month and a half were pretty boring; I either guarded the dressing rooms to make sure people weren't stealing stuff/hooking up in them or worked one of the sections of the store folding shirts and helping customers find stuff. I was stoked when I got asked to work on the registers and that's when I started loving the job. The girls I worked with: Jen, Crystal, and K-10 were so much fun and it was so cute to see who in the store had a crush on which girl (one of the couples that developed then is still together now, 5 years later!). There was also one boy, Hung, who worked the registers and he was in with all the owners and friends with all their sons/nephews. Once I started working the registers, I also got to know the boys who sold the boards and wetsuits better. One by one my girls started leaving to start school somewhere else or to get married or whatever. Hung went to work in the main office and develop the Jack's website ( and I was left to take over as the head cashier. At this point, I got to know all the owners really well and stopped being afraid of them. I still miss getting harassed by Bob, Ron, Little Mike, Sean, and Jamal (all co-owners) and Moe (the security guard) at least once a shift. I also got to start ordering some of the merchandise for the front counters, along with Bob's permission.

A year had passed and I thought I'd leave Jack's and do surf lessons instead as the pay was better and it meant never having to work until 10:00pm (we were open from 8am-10pm, every day of the year except Christmas). I worked my last day and then went away to chaperone a surf trip to Fiji with my old surf team. Over there I realized I wanted to come back and work at Jack's so I came back with my tail between my legs and asked for my job back. I think I got punished and put back on the floor for a little bit, but then the big yearly comp, the U.S. Open of Surfing, came to town and they needed all hands on deck and I got thrown back on a register.
Time passed and I was kindof goofing off at school and doing the bare minimum. I was still passing and still getting good grades, but I was doing school around work rather than working around school. It got to be that I had worked at Jack's for about a year and a half, only half the people or less that I had originally started with were still there and those were mostly managers or guys who had been working the surfboard section for a few years.

I remember one day these two giggly girls came strolling in to the store with their arms linked together. One had wavy, red hair and the other had long, super straight, dark brown hair. I rolled my eyes and was like "who hired the high school chicks again?" I think I even asked my friend Heidi about who they were, what their deal was and all that. Turns out, they'd soon become my best friends at the shop. On my 20th birthday I trained Bri on the registers and really liked her personality. From there I looked forward to seeing her on shift and hanging out with her and then once she had warmed up to me, her friend Katie did, as well.

A few months later, Nae was back from her first year away at college and I had probably the best summer of my life. Nae came to work at the shop and we had so much fun working together along with Heidi, Bri, and Katie. The time seemed to fly by and we were the cool kids at work so we got away with plenty. We were friends with the managers, like Cheyne, Kenny, and Peter, as well as with nephew's/sons of the owners like Hemzeh and Akram and they'd all hang out near the counter and joke and gossip with us all day, too. At night, I'd head to Bun's apartment and drink a lot and I found out as I stumbled around her pool area one night that Bri and Katie lived just about 5 doors down from her in the same apartment building! Other nights we would pick up Heidi and her and Nae and I would go to parties at Kenny and Geoff's place to hang with everyone from work. I was single at this point and it was just fun to hang out with all my friends and not worry about my stupid exboyfriend. I really can't explain it now or make it seem as fun as it was, I guess, in this post, but it was a great time in my life.

Halfway through the summer the owners me to help out and help manage the girls' store for some shifts. There was a newly hired manager in the girls' store that didn't fit in to the Jack's mode of things, in my opinion. Not looks wise because I'm not the stereotypical blonde surfer girl that you'd think would be working at a surf shop either, but just she'd make the girls do dumb stuff like write about their shift after it was done, like "I liked this about today's shift....I didn't like this about today's shift..." and I thought it was dumb, corny, and unnecessary. So being immature and 20, I wrote her a note saying I thought these end of shift notes were dumb and wasting our girls' time, I mean they were working 8 hours for minimum wage and then they were supposed to write a mini diary entry each day when they were done? Lame! So I think I was promptly sent back to my head cashier position at the main store. I don't think I really got in trouble, the summer season was just over so they were slowing down at their store and didn't need my help. Not two weeks later this newly hire manager got fired for taking in dodgey checks from her friends for a significant amount of merchandise...dumbass!

That was another thing that blew my mind: how many people got fired for stealing or doing dumb stuff like that. I think retail jobs are like that in general. I never took anything, not even a bar of wax or stickers or anything without permission. I got good discounts on all the things I wanted so stealing just never seemed worth it to me, but to lots of people the appeal of all that cool stuff sitting around was too tempting.

Anyway, so summer ended and Nae had gone back to school and by this time I had been accepted to the University out here so I knew my time at Jack's was coming to an end. Those last four months were still a lot of fun. I looked forward to coming in and seeing all my friends and sad that it was going to end. Katie, Bri, and I started calling our crew the "Jack's Elite Crew" and on my last shift with them I brought in cookies and shirts that I had made for them with their names and Jack's Elite Crew on them. They also threw me a party at their place with everyone from the shop pretty much coming. I got sloppy drunk, I think I asked Cheyne to make out a few times, and then drove him and Hung home with my friend Patty and as we were walking to our car I decided I would do a sneak run and jump on to Hung's back and instead jumped on him and knocked him over...I was so embarassed when I remembered the next day and again when I saw him a few days later. But in general I thought it was so cool that the girls had thrown me a party and everyone had turned out (whether it was for me or just for a party didn't matter, they were there). Leaving was really sad, but I thought I'd be back that summer to start working again and told everyone as much. I ended up not coming back to the U.S. until that Thanksgiving when I went back to Jack's and asked if I could work the season for them. The boys were all still there, but by that time Bri and Katie had found other jobs and Heidi had had a baby!

I still look back on my time at Jack's as one of the best times in general in my life. I was part of the family and it was a big, crazy, fun family to be a part of. I'm still friends with Bri and Katie and try and see them whenever I go home. Bri and I talk a lot over email and she had even asked me to be in her wedding (but I couldn't because I didn't have enough money to go home this past May)! I haven't talked to Heidi since right after she had her baby, but I'd love to get in contact with her again and I know Katie still talks to her so maybe there is some hope there. Just recently Cheyne added me on Facebook and through him I found Hung, and my other friend Peter just popped up in my "People You May Know" feature. I don't talk to any of them on there, but it's nice to just have that link to them still and know that I could talk to them if I wanted to. I'd also love to pop in and see the owners at some point because they were all really good guys and I miss them and their advice.

Like I said, this post doesn't do it justice because I don't have any really crazy stories to tell (well, except for this time this guy K-Rod "borrowed" my phone and took it in to the bathroom and took 5 pictures of himself posing in his underwear on my phone for me, or the time Nick and Aaron Carter came to the store, or the time I rang up one of the lesser known Jackass guys, or the time when we made fun of someone's girlfriend for wearing Barbie pink blush really heavily, or every week when the handicapped group would come in and their care taker would hit on one of the other cashier's and tell her how he'd like her to check out his studio and how he'd like to paint her) but overall it was just the whole experience of working there that was great and I will always look back on that time very, very fondly.

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