by Sara Goding
UPDATE, OCTOBER 11
So when I last posted, I talked about the bright side of the thrift store life. Well this week hasn’t been all fun and games, that’s for sure.
After a robbery where two crack-head girls broke in and stole $7000, things started getting worse. We have video of the dumb ladies walking in and an employee from a nearby Mexican food restaurant reported that a girl matching the description of one the crazies beat another girl in their restaurant. And so the stream of violence began.
A couple days after that, when the store was closed someone threw a homeless guy’s head through one of our glass store-front windows. (He survived.)
A few days later, a prostitute who used to frequent our store was stabbed several times at the mobil home park next door. She was taken to USC hospital and we have not seen or heard about her since. I hope that she is ok because she was a nice lady.
Undercover cops have been hanging out around the store lately, not because they are worried about us, but because they are trying to take down the big dogs in the hotel next door. I do not know about all that though, I try to mind my business and keep an eye out for more cute polka-dot dresses.
On the brighter side, some really cool cowboy knife belts came in. The buckle is literally a knife that one could pull out in case of an emergency. I am thinking that I should buy one if I am going to continue working here.
We got in more cool Halloween costumes too. Luke Skywalker, a firetruck and a sexy nurse… we got everything.
Tune in next week (if I am still alive) for more exciting tales in Adventures in Thrifting.
FURTHER UPDATE, OCTOBER 18
Ok, so I lived… barely. On Wednesday these girls that live in the hotel next door came in to steal some clothes.
You know, just another Wednesday with the two thieves.
No big deal. Except these girls came in at about 4:30 p.m. and I have to leave to get to classes on Monday and Wednesday at 5.
Right before I go to clock out, I hear a commotion at the front door. Being the smart girl that I am, I go around to get a full view. I look down the aisle and I see my boss at the front. He locked the door and the two girls became upset because they were ready to leave.
The innocent customers were sharing concerned looks because I imagine they wanted to leave as well.
I just smiled and went to the break room to clock out.
My boss said to the customers that they could leave through the back door and one of the crackhead girls thought they would take that route too.
I have three bosses and they were all there on Wednesday. One of them went to the back to let the people out while I was clocking out. He came back with a bloody nose. I guess the girl tried to punch her way out but my bosses are thugs and they do not play like that.
I went to the side front counter to watch the rest of the show. One of the thieves was still trying to get out through the front and tried to grab a fire extinguisher but my boss snatched it out of her hands. You could see the girls watching their freedom slipping away. They are going to jail for at least a little bit.
I got bored and decided it was time for me to leave.
I walked out with some patrons and a co-worker said that he would tell the cops that I was the girl they were looking for. Thanks Hector, I thought.
Needless to say I was a little shaken up on my way to school. Really, I just wanted to go home or to the bar, but I had a quiz in journalism and I cannot miss math class because I might be failing, so I went to school. I still could use a drink though… or ten.
Anyways, one of my co-workers texted to fill me in on what happened after I left.
At the end, one of the girls tried to break the glass doors with a statue so my boss handcuffed her to a pole until the cops showed up.
It was pretty crazy. On the brighter side, we got a new guy in the furniture department. I hear he does drag so I am excited to get to know him better.
Viva American Way!
Til next time faithful readers
I have had a lot of crazy jobs in my lifetime– but that’s another blog altogether, so I was excited when I was hired at a seemingly “normal” job at the American Way thrift store.
My imagination took off with thoughts of all the amazing things that could happen during my time of employment. Maybe we will sell a portrait that grows old while it sits in the store, like the “Portrait of Dorian Gray.” Or maybe I’d find a quilt that is filled with millions of dollars or maybe I watch too much Twilight Zone.
Anyways, I am so blessed to have my job and work with some really wonderful people that make the eight hour shifts feel like only 7 and a half.
I work on the floor and as a cashier and the girls that work with me are so cool. Martha is the head cashier and she has the hook-ups with all the customers. One lady randomly brings in bread and goodies from Costco. What Martha doesn’t take home with her we all munch on in the break room. There was another lady who makes home-made bolis (popsicles for our non-spanish speaking friends). She can get free nachos from the restaurant down the street and probably the best thing she ever did for me was to introduce me to the Boba ladies at the donut store. Now I got the hook-up on free donuts!
Next in command is Marianna. She is in love with Lucille Ball and will probably take over the word one day just like Lucy.
Then there is Yessica- don’t call her Jessica or she’ll rain down hell’s fury on you. She is really sweet and it is always great to tell her your problems because her gentle demeanor makes you feel like everything is going to be alright.
Lexi loves to give everyone nick-names. I’m Sarah Jessica Parker. Lexi has the ability to be an evil genius, but so far I have only seen her use her powers for good so she’s alright with me.
Finally there is a new girl from Iowa, yes, there are people from Iowa apparently. We don’t really know about her yet but she seems cool. She was a waitress and dreamed of coming to California her whole life and she did it so she must be at least a little badass.
The customers are really great too for the most part. Conveniently located on the historic Route 66 in north Pomona, our store sits sandwiched between a hotel/halfway house and a mobile home park. We never have a shortage of colorful guests.
Some of the customers are recently released ex-cons who tell me how pretty I am and the older patrons on Senior Day always tell my co-workers and me how much fun we seem to be having. It is not all rainbows and sunshine though, I ran over some guys skateboard in the parking lot, my co-worker got her purse stolen and one bipolar crazy lady called me a racist for saying that some french girls do not shave their armpits.
I digress, my favorite part of my job is seeing all the cool stuff that people donate. I have doubled my wardrobe in the three months that I have been employed. I bought some cool shirts that have cartoon Godzillas, cows with automatic weapons and more polka-dots than any one person should ever own.
Now that Halloween is just around the corner we have all these cool costumes. Everything from witches to unicorns to caterpillars to referees. We have a brand new inflatable coffin cooler for festive drinks.
Scary masks keep me company at the registers but the non-Halloween dolls, that some people collect and restore, tend to frighten the customers and small children more than anything we have gotten in for the upcoming holiday.
There is never a dull moment at my work and I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my adventures. Tune in next week for more ‘Adventures in Thrifting.’
Photography by Kimberly Johnson. Top to Bottom:
(front page) Lexi’s duties include sorting through the racks of donated items in the store.
The American Way Thrift Store is in northern Pomona, on Foothill Boulevard.
Sara enjoys sorting through the donations which often include unique and gently used items of clothing.
Donations include games, jewelry and this unique set of playing cards.
Martha and Sara man the sales counter, where they also show the jewelry, instruments and even golden baby shoes that are among the more valuable items for sale.