This is part 2 of "The Sprite Incident", a 3-part story based on actual events. To appreciate the story, please read The Sprite Incident - Part 1: Opryland before continuing.
The Sprite Incident: Chapter Two
Various Locations, October 31, 1997 - October 18, 2002
Upon leaving Opryland, I got hired on in the stockroom at a Family Clothing Store, where I was rapidly promoted through several positions to the position of Department Head over the Tuxedo Rental Department. Wanting to focus more on Formalwear, I left the store to become the manager in charge of a tuxedo rental specialty shop in Nashville. After managing that store for nearly two years, the small company I worked for expanded, the owner's brother took over "My" store, and I was given management of two brand-new "mini-stores", located far away from each other, and very far away from where I lived. I hated the commute, and I hated the added responsibility, and after being miserable for a month or two, I lined up an interview with my previous employer, the Family Clothing store, where I wanted to go back to work in the stockroom where I had started out. Two days before the interview, after which I would have resigned, I was Fired.
I was very surprised that I had been fired, although I probably shouldn't have been. The quality of my work had fallen along with my spirits after having my store and my employees given away to the boss's brother. But I had never been fired before. I didn't believe I could be. My previous experience with work had been a steady stream of raises and/or promotions. Of course my stress level was increasing with each new step too, so I went back to the stockroom in the Family Clothing store, angry and ashamed at having been fired, but happy as a clam to have the reduced responsibility of a simple "Grunt" worker. The Peter Principle had done its job rather quickly, in less than five years.
So that is where I was on October 18th of 2002, as my 1st wedding anniversary approached. I racked my brains about what to do for my wife by way of gift and/or celebration. I thought of the crude, thoughtless husbands I had seen portrayed over the years. The kind who sat on the couch watching football and asking their wives to bring them beers, and smoked cigars in the house when they had "the guys" over to play poker, and forgot their wedding anniversaries. How could I not be like them, and lavish attention on my beautiful new wife while being super classy and awesome at the same time? I would take her to see "Phantom of the Opera"! Yeah! That would be pretty awesome!
The other thing I did on the day before "The Incident" was take the garbage out. That doesn't sound all that special, does it? Taking the garbage out was part of the stockroom job, and would not be remarkable at all, except that there was a rainstorm of near Tropical Storm strength going on that day, and after piling up the garbage for much of the day, hoping that It would abate, my stockroom coworkers and I finally had to bite the bullet and take the whole day's worth trash out to the dumpster in the monsoon conditions. The strong winds ripped cardboard boxes out of our grip, and at a few points we had to chase down the garbage, but after a few trips, we were soaked to the bone, but we had it all done.
The Manager, whom we will call "Mrs. Smith", was required by store policy to be at the stockroom's loading door whenever it was open, in case it became the "Unloading" door. When she witnessed the garbage haul of heroic proportions, she was so impressed by our super garbage-hauling skills (how's that for a superpower?) that she decided to throw us a "pizza party" the next day, providing free pizza for the stockroom crew as a token of her appreciation.
Little did I know, the pizza party would also be my "going away" party.
Coming Up In Chapter Three:
Everything Goes Horribly Wrong.