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GUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a community support series for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. We avoid discussion of political issues. If you are quitting or even thinking about quitting, please -- join us! You can add GUS to your stream by clicking on the ♥ next to the GUS tag. The GUS Library at dKosopedia is organically evolving, and stocked with free-range information, quit-smoking links, and helpful GUS writing tips.
"A message to all quitters: you don't have to avoid GUS if your latest attempt to quit didn't work out. We won't give you a bad time and we consider the attempted quits as practice for the real quit." (h/t to FG)
I have to be careful here, because I'm tempted to list everything I learned while I was at Streetside Records. The career experience I acquired and developed working there encompasses a lot and deserves a separate listing. For the moment, I'm focusing on the skills I used just obtaining the job as another of my Parachute exercises/stories. The premise of those exercises is to write, briefly, about something one successfully achieved and enjoyed doing.

I can tie it into GUS easily and in a number of ways such as relating how it became a non-smoking workplace through corporate policy, but I routinely disregarded that and stunk up the office, and by extension the entire store, every day I worked there. I should really feel more shame but .... I don't. It was the early 90's. That's not an excuse. Just a time reference. And another chance to own up to some ... shame? ... uh, no ....... I wasn't the only one who smoked there ....... hey look, I'm not the one who set the office ablaze and had to call the fire department one morning, so .. No. Anyway, I had an ashtray that was inside a mini tire ...... GOODYEAR TYRE ASH TRAY. 1960's. why yes, thank you internets, very much like the one shown. I don't remember specifically what advertisement was on it. I kept it in my cubby/cabinet in the office but I was just as likely to use a semi-empty Coke can I was done drinking from.

I can also carry over from previous weeks (or in general) and reaffirm:

  • that quitting smoking has been the impetus to a number of positive changes I've made in my life, and I intend to keep making progress and sharing that progress here. or somewhere-ever.
  • everyone has a great story to tell. I'd love to hear yours. And some shaming to go along with it, if possible. Lol, just kidding. maybe. ok, I am. Shame yourself at the level you feel most comfortable with.

In the spring of 1989, while working for a temp agency as a forklift operator, I saw a help wanted ad in the STL suburban newspaper seeking an assistant manager for a local record store chain, and I resolved to not only apply for, but acquire that job. This was before the internet as we know it, so help wanted ads in actual paper newspapers, phone calls with a cord attached to the phone, hand written applications, and face to face meetings pretty much sum up a lot of what went into my effort. I had literally zero retail experience, so this was a huge course change in my life, but I wanted this job. I felt like it was perfect for me, and eventually, in many ways it was.

I called the individual store, in St. Peters, MO, and set up a meeting with that store manager. I met with Stephanie and we had an informal, but no less informational meeting and conversation out on the sales floor one day. It might have lasted 45 minutes, and it became clear that although I wasn't exactly what she was looking for (she needed an indie oriented assistant, specifically) I had enough of ... something to warrant her passing my name along to another store manager at another store location, closer to my Ferguson residence, in Hazelwood, MO. She also sent me along with their somewhat custom application to fill out. It had all the usual questions one still finds on any application form, but there was an additional page included regarding musical tastes, likes, and recent purchases.

I took some time and thought hand writing the answers to those questions, and provided additional pages of musical preferences. I was trying to impress with a variety of tastes and interests, which were somewhat above the norm, but given what I know today, I knew (and still know) next to nothing about music in general. I opted to write it out, rather than use a typewriter, because I felt that would have indicated a level of proficiency I didn't possess. Just a reminder that I'd worked in industrial settings almost my entire life up to that point so I didn't want to try to pass myself off as something I wasn't. It also helped that my handwriting and printing was that neat.

Streetside Records

This pic is from the summer of 1989 (thanks Kopper!) It was a moderately sized stand alone store front on a fairly busy state highway. I called and set up an actual interview with Randy, the store manager there. It was conducted in the small office in the back of the store and things went ok, for the most part, with a time frame once again in the neighborhood of 45 or so minutes. I turned in my application, and Randy said he'd be in touch one way or another.

A week passed and I hadn't received notice, so I called Randy, and he said that they hadn't reached a decision, and that I should give him some more time. I agreed, but at this point other factors were coming into play. The most important in my mind was the fact that the plastics manufacturer I'd been temping at for the past two months offered me a full time position. What I learned later on, which was just as instrumental in helping me land the job, was that someone who'd previously worked at Streetside, had applied for the same position. Lance wasn't famous like that back then, but he was always a character, and he had one quirk that pushed Randy into hiring me. He was habitually late. I also found out that my application had been passed around to the staff there as well, so I gained some tacit approval in that regard too. After a couple more phone calls over the course of the next week, with me insisting I needed to have an answer, Randy relented and hired me as assistant manager.

  • I learned about and utilized skills relating to presentation
    in physical appearance,
    in the words I spoke,
    as well as the words I wrote.
  • I was able to bring a very real sense of enthusiasm, in spite of my inexperience. I marketed and sold my skills and abilities at the time to a group strangers. I worked with what I had, and made it work for that situation.
  • I learned about the importance of following up on leads, and persistence.
  • I gained a level of confidence that no one can ever take away from me, even though I might have downplayed, or understated the importance of that during subsequent periods of my life. I stepped completely out of an old life, box, routine and inserted myself into the place I wanted, wanted, to be in. And I can do it again.

I'm not going to list out all the transferable skills like I did four weeks ago. I have the actual book here at home to mark up and dog ear and I'll put this story in a Word document too. But this is #2, I have 5 more to go, theoretically.

Progress, babies. That's what this group means to me. And we're making it :-)

Have you had some experience with the effects of smoking, and want to write a GUS diary or host an open thread? Please sign up in the Butt Can (Tip Jar), and name the day and time that works for you (AM, PM, late-night, early-bird...) Regular diarists' names have been enhanced for your viewing pleasure. Click on the link to learn how to write a GUS diary the easy way. It's really easy. Did I say it's really easy? It is. It's really. "Seriously, it doesn't have to include specific elements or require all sorts of fabulous diary formatting skills. The regulars will make sure stuff gets carried over from diary to diary, so if you want to just tell your story and host for a few hours, that's cool too." (h/t Vctnld)

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There's so much great music that came out in 1989, but XTC's Oranges & Lemons was my employee pick for the year, and I stand by that 25 years later. I can listen to it the whole way through without skipping a track even today. Yeah, granted I can say that about a number of XTC releases, but this one's special, there's some real emotional attachment to it for me, given where I was in my life and that's what good music does, it connects to the individual. I know what a lot of critics say, and there's no denying that Todd Rundgren helped create a gem with 1986's Skylarking but the personality clashes were huge and Todd runs a tight production model, with little to no room for dissent. Plus part of the charm and attraction I have for XTC lies in the fact that they were never a chart oriented group, per se, they made the songs they wanted to make. Clever, clever songs on so many levels. They were artisans who made themselves happy doing what they loved. That's clearly apparent through the entire length of Partridge's & Moulding's careers, and in spite of an all too familiar back story that includes band member dissatisfaction and departures, improprieties from their manager and their label, and a deteriorating and crumbling home life. I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the kinship I can feel for Andy's crippling phobia(s).

Recorded in L.A. with 1st time producer Paul Fox, Oranges & Lemons is a high polished, Beatle-esque style (they even got Yellow Submarine artist Heinz Edelmann to design the cover art), psychedelic trip oriented, modern pop classic that shimmers and shines, while remaining firmly anchored and grounded in family and the white cliffs of their home. There's a ton of witty, sharp, poignant, lovingly crafted lyrics and music, as usual. Colin Moulding's three contributions, King For A Day, One Of The Millions, and Cynical Days rank as some of his best while Andy Partridge's work is top notch. I love Poor Skeleton Steps Out with its xylophone sound mimicking the rattle of old bones who are anxious to ditch their cover of flesh, the hillbilly jamboree stlying of Scarecrow People, detailing a race of beings that have straw not just as thoughts but as physical attributes, and the futile and insignificant grind of every day life on Across This Antheap but he reserves his best for last, with the climactic Penny Lane tinged love won and lost brilliance of Miniature Sun followed by the post coitus thrall and contentment of Chalkhills & Children to end the disc, invariably making me want to hit the replay button again and again. Such a great time and highly recommended.

"you're only here once so ya gotta get it right
(no time to fuss and fight)
'cause life don't mean much if measured out with someone else's plight
(in time you'll see the light)"

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