This is one of a series of posts about jobs I’ve had during my time on this planet. You can read more posts by clicking the “jobs i’ve had” tag, and read a lengthier intro to the series in the first post.
In my “brief” history of my time on the Internet, I wrote about this job:
I got an actual job as webmaster of Rocky Top Books, an off-campus book store. The parent company Nebraska Books had store software, and someone was needed to do some basic skinning and to upload product photos.
The photos I took and uploaded were called out at a corporate meeting as examples of how to do them the right way, which secretly made me a little proud even though we all made a big show of talking about how much we hated the parent company. Little or none of the work I did is reflected on the current web site, but when I was in Knoxville last year I saw the delivery truck still has the decals I designed on it.
Anybody remember when “webmaster” was an actual job title?
When I first started school at Tennessee, there were two competing independent bookstores on Cumberland Avenue: Campus Bookstore and Rocky Top Books. And when I started my webmaster job at Rocky Top Books, it had recently been purchased by Nebraska Book Company, a corporation which owns about 270 college book stores now.
There was a crew of employees who had been working there since before it was purchased, and many of them weren’t happy with the change. Some of them thought the manager was sleazy. They called him The Snake behind his back.
Nebraska Book Company could have put anybody in that position and the employees would have hated him or her. He was definitely corporate and oblivious about some things, but he was an okay guy and was just trying to do a job. I liked most of them okay, but a lot of them seemed a petulant about the situation. It’s probably not a coincidence that the two people from there I still keep in touch with understood this.
More after the jump…
Now, that being said, I do have to make fun of him a little. My job interview there was pretty awesome.
The question I remember him asking me was, “Do you know anything about… … …links?”
I had to suppress laughter. It was a “Do you use The Google?” moment.
My office was upstairs in a lofted space which doubled as a break room. Lush (who used to comment here before he decided he didn’t like the Internet anymore) nicknamed me Troll and said it was my troll cave. I was pretty detached from the day-to-day operations of the store. Around August and November when everyone else was in full bore freakout mode, I just sort of stepped around them and walked up the stairs and into my cave.
Not too long after I started, Nebraska Books bought out Campus Bookstore and renamed it Rocky Top Books East and renamed my store Rocky Top Books West. I was eventually charged with photographing inventory from the East store to put on their version of the web site. I would walk about half a mile up Cumberland Avenue to the store, pick out a bunch of merchandise, and then bring it back to the West Store where my office was to photograph it. It was great because I enlisted the help of Furious D sometimes, and we’d take a detour into O’Charley’s where I’d have a beer on the clock before walking to or from there.
I sympathized with the manager of the East store
who was the owner before Nebraska bought it. She didn’t particularly like the parent company, and would vent to me sometimes while I was over there. In her case I definitely understood the frustration since she’d been there operating independently for about 30 years, and ended up working for someone else in her own store, likely strong-armed out by a big corporation.
Nebraska made little effort to understand the local market, imposing idiotic heavy-handed marketing campaigns and shitty web site software that was difficult to customize on our stores. Many of the people I dealt with up there on occasional phone calls were rude. When the possibility of them offering me a job came up near the end of my time working at Rocky Top Books, I scoffed at it, which might have seemed a little rude to the store manager who was a corporate guy.
Mostly what I remember is I had a lot of fun getting drunk with people after work. After one of my first nights there, we went to Sarge’s wings where they had an all-you-can-eat special. Sarge’s went out of business not too long after. If you went to school at Tennessee and never ate there, you missed out. They had full-sized wings, not the miniature wings you get at most wing joints, and didn’t fuck around with the sauces they put on them.
A fratty bar called Old College Inn was next door. If you went at five in the afternoon, they had stiff long island iced teas on special and you usually could avoid the less desirable elements.
I also drank myself into many stupors at the Buffalo Wild Wing, which was brand new at the time. One karaoke night they were having trouble getting people to sing, and they offered a free beer to anyone who would sing a song. I puked on their front sidewalk and managed to leave my tab open there more than once. Good times.
– Furious D corrects my faulty memory again:
Nebraska always owned Campus Bookstore. Also, one of my ill-advised claims to fame was suggesting RTB East and West. Every single goddamned thing that I suggested as a joke because I thought the words coming out of my mouth were too ridiculous to be taken otherwise was immediately implemented.
Hey look, Jen jumped in the pool too.