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Chuck Brooks viewpoint: Small fibs generated many stories, experiences

I begin this week with True Confessions. Last week's column, in its inception, was not intended to be a two-parter. As I approached the maximum length I'm allowed weekly, I realized I was never going to accomplish the task I had hoped for, so I had no choice but to leave you hanging. However, in hindsight, it turned out to be kind of a fun technique for a change. Now that I've come clean, let me return to where I left you hanging.

The school year began, and soon I was being told I needed to order the scaffolding. By now, I'd learned what scaffolding was but my next challenge was, From where do I order scaffolding? Question after question like that began to surface as I had to begin the task of rallying students to assist in building the set. Besides the scaffolding challenge, there was one other major component to this set. The director said he wanted signs made. Sounded easy enough. I was good at making signs at Orv and Wally's for the weekly specials — "Large Eggs - .79!" People liked my signs. I thought about sign-making as a major in college. I could make a heckuva nifty sign.

Then the director popped my bubble. The signs would sit atop these scaffolding structures we'd be constructing, and they'd be made of sheets of plywood. They'd also require lights as the border for each sign. Suddenly, the thought of taking up smoking returned with a vengeance. And despite my desire to simply take Christmas lights and tape them to the front of the plywood, it was explained to me, once again by the "boss," that light bulbs would have to be inserted into holes that we drilled. Neon signs, in essence. I hadn't used a drill in my life. I found myself relying on the experience of my tech crew. What had I gotten myself into?

Well, only with the daily guidance of the director and the assistance of some tech-savvy students, the show got built. Despite the director's need to mentor me daily, I ended up being given a second show to tech at Rosemount High School. It was after that they got smart. The powers-that-be figured I'd be better with a microphone than a hammer. My tech director career was over. Amen and Alleluia!

Now I return to my fib that got me the position of frozen food and dairy manager at Orv and Wally's. I never realized how many products could be shoved into the shelves of a frozen food unit as well as a dairy case. Since Orv was purely focused on his meat department, I worked closely with Wally. Wally, as I said last week, was a good man. He had a sense of humor. He was a patient man. He and his wife had a family of five or six kids. He to have patience. He acquired one more kid when he hired me.

I had no idea what I was doing in this role. I soon learned. Like the theater experience that was still nearly 10 years from happening, Wally mentored me. It might be what contributed to the close relationship I would ultimately have with him and his family. And like a father loses patience with his kids from time to time, I was not exempt from that. I probably tested his patience more than his kids did. How much milk do I order? How much ice cream do I order when it's on sale in the weekly ad? I remember once running out of a key item that was not only a popular item in December, but also an ad item. Whipping cream half-pints. It was Christmas Eve morning, and we didn't have a one in the cooler. How did I know people used this for cooking purposes on Christmas? It was probably the angriest I ever saw Wally. He made me drive nearly 30 miles to our distributor to pick up whatever they had left in their inventory, so we didn't irritate all of our clientele. I remember that all too well.

Over time, I definitely got into the rhythm of being in charge of both areas. I knew how to order without having too much overstock or running out of items, especially when they'd be in the weekly ad. I came to meet my new best friend who was my age and the produce manager. He had grown up 10 miles from my hometown. I also picked up an admirer. When she came into the store, I'd be called to the backroom because people knew she was hunting for me. She'd peer through the rows of milk to see if I was working in the cooler behind the dairy case. It was bad!

So many stories from two little white lies. I would do it all over again. The good far outweighed the bad. This is no lie, however. August is days away. The clock is ticking on summer!

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