Retail Hell by Freeman Hall
You had to have it. You saw the ad, you wanted the item, it was on sale, you had to have it, that’s that.
So, flier in one hand, debit card in the other – you rushed to the store and, well, you got what you were looking for, but the place was a mess, the sales associate was frazzled and it took forever to check out.
Ever worked retail? If you have, you might sympathize with the poor sap behind the register. If you’ve never worked in a store, though, then read “Retail Hell,” by Freeman Hall and get ready to laugh through your new education.
Freeman Hall wanted to be the next Spielberg. He wanted to write a blockbuster screenplay, win an Oscar and be invited to Hollywood parties. But once he got to Los Angeles, he realized that he needed to pay bills while waiting for the Academy to call. So he applied for employment at a famous high-end retail store he calls “The Big Fancy.”
During his interview with a woman Hall dubbed Tammy Two-Tone (because she had two tones of voice: sweet and dragon), he was told that he had a “free spirit personality.” Although he assumed Two-Tone was using her gaydar and his inner voice was warning him that it was a mistake, Hall took the job. He would be selling women’s handbags. Not purses – handbags.
Hall quickly made friends with half of his co-workers. The “Angels” taught him, amused him and helped him get customers (associates at The Big Fancy worked on commission and most handbags were $500 or more). His other co-workers were “Demons,” who sniped at Hall and stole his sales.
As in most retail jobs, though, the customers were what made work work. Hall met the Shoposaurus Carnivoarus, a woman with a potty-mouth and a propensity for spending five figures on handbags and accessories. He met Discount Rat Patty, who constantly badgered him for “deescount.” There were Nasty Thieves and the Two Virginias, Piggy Raelene and a retail vampire who sucked the work-blood out of everyone who dealt with her.
But sales, like other industries, are cyclical, and Hall was ever-pressured to perform. Could Queer Eye Handbag Guy survive? As someone who spent ten years in retail (A bookstore. I loved it. Go figure), I laughed myself silly over this book.
Hall is sarcastic, flippant, snarky and dead-on in his portrayals of both shoppers and co-workers. His stories are hilarious and only, I’m sure, a tiny bit exaggerated. In fact, anyone who’s worked retail, past or present, will be tempted to insert their own store’s name into this book while reading it, and you’ll recognize way too many customers and cohorts here.
The holidays are coming and you might be thinking of taking a part-time mall job to make ends meet. If so – or if you’re already working retail – this book will make you laugh through the season and beyond. Pick up “Retail Hell,” because you know you have to have it.
Never Give Up on Your Dream by Warren Moon with Don Yaeger
They said it couldn’t be done. It wasn’t possible. Nobody’d done it, and you weren’t going to be the first. Try all you want, it ain’t happenin’. That’s what they all said, and they were wrong.
Have you ever been faced with nay-sayers who don’t know what they’re talking about? When Warren Moon said he wanted to be an NFL quarterback, some said it could never be. But Moon wouldn’t listen. In the new book “Never Give Up on Your Dream” (with Don Yaeger), Moon talks about his life, football and being the first African-American quarterback inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
From the time he was 10 years old, playing Pop Warner football in his Los Angeles neighborhood, Moon knew he wanted to be a quarterback. A QB made things happen. Moon was raised to be a leader, the “man of the house” after his father died. Being a leader as a pro quarterback was all he dreamed about.
But there seemed to be a barrier, and Moon thought it might be the color of his skin. Most quarterbacks at the time were white, and – although some coaches were supportive – Moon says that he experienced racism, which shocked him.
Few could deny his talent. Moon had a strong arm and he knew he could play. So, in the NFL draft following graduation, Moon was “stunned” to learn that he was passed up by the league. By that time, though, he’d signed up to play football in Canada for the CFL. It was a chance to hone his game.
Moon remembers feeling “at home” in Edmonton, but he was ever-eager to come back to the States. When the NFL came knocking, he was ready – eventually playing for Houston, Seattle, Minnesota, and Kansas City. Despite that he never got a Super Bowl ring - a deep regret – Moon is, today, the only player ever inducted into both the Pro Football and the Canadian Football Halls of Fame.
Despite several incidences of tedious repetition (Strong arm. Yeah. We got it), “Never Give Up on Your Dream” isn’t a bad book – if you’re a major football fan.
Pigskin fans will drool over author Warren Moon’s stories and recollections, the excitement he relates of the games he’s played, and the astounding long path he took to reach a career pinnacle that should be the envy of every player or future player. In these stories, Moon grabs fans by their replication jerseys and brings them right down on the field.
Alas, for readers who aren’t die-hard fans, this book is going to be hard to get through. Moon writes briefly about his childhood, and only just a little about his personal life; not much, in either case, to satisfy someone who wants more memoir.
If you never miss a football game, you won’t want to miss this book, either, because it’s written for you. If you’re not a major fan, though, skip it. “Never Give Up on Your Dream” will be hard for you to get done.
The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.