For the first part of this story make sure you read it here.
It was Saturday, the day of my all-important meeting with the head of loss prevention, Keith. I went into the back of the store and met Keith for the first time. He was as they said, a big heavy set man, wearing a plaid shirt, khakis, and sitting upon his own stool. He asked me to take a seat. He told me I was being held responsible for an unauthorized paycheck going out to a former employee. He wanted me to explain what happened. So I did…
“I asked Jed to make change for me from the safe. While he was in there I noticed that there was a paycheck for Wooza in there. I asked Jed if I should call him and let him know, he said to go ahead. I went and called Wooza, he came in shortly there after, and picked up his check, which Assistant Manager Jed had to remove from the safe himself, without incident.”
After I finished my statement, Keith told me, in a loud booming voice, “YOU ARE A LIAR!”. He proceeded to then tell me everything I told him was an outright lie and he told me what really happened. He said:
“You saw the check in the safe and asked Jed if you should call Wooza to let him know the check was in there. Jed told you not to, the check was a mistake. Jed closed the safe and then you kept pestering Jed about how it was wrong of us to withhold the check. You then called Wooza on your own and informed him that the check was here. Once Wooza arrived you opened the safe yourself and gave Wooza his check.”
I told Keith that even if what he said was true and I pestered Jed and called Wooza on my own, there was one fundamental flaw to his version of the events; I DID NOT KNOW THE SAFE COMBINATION ANYMORE. When Wooza was fired the safe combination was changed, when I was demoted from 3rd Key to Game Advisor the safe combination was changed, and finally when Shane was fired the safe combination was changed again for the third time. There was no way I could open the safe and hand it to Wooza without Jed doing so. Keith then immediately asked me, “Who did you call at 6pm yesterday?” I told him I spoke to Will in the Freehold Mall store. He asked me what about, I played my ace. I told him Will offered me a job working for him as a 3rd key. I told him I had accepted the position and would be communicating that decision to Darren this evening. At this point, Keith told me to wait outside…
While I waited outside with Jed and Darren on the main floor, a few minutes passed then Keith summoned Darren to the backroom. Jed and I waited alone on the main floor. This was an awkward time for me as I knew that Jed had divulged certain information to Darren. Was he apart of the plan to railroad me? I didn’t know. After about 20 minutes, Keith emerged from the back room, all packed up and ready to go. He left without saying good-bye to any of us. Darren emerged from the back room, he said, “Well I really had to go to bat for you, Keith saw it my way, you’re not going to be fired.” I breathed a sigh of relief and I thanked Darren for everything he did with Keith. I bought a pizza for us to all celebrate Darren’s kindness and victory over Keith.
I let Darren know of my plans to go to the Freehold store, he told me it was fine and I didn’t even need to wait the 2 weeks. I could start next weekend if Will wanted me on the schedule. Will did, that Sunday would be my last day at Toms River FuncoLand.
I don’t really remember anything about that last day, as there would be 2 more for me at FuncoLand (which I plan on writing about as part of this series). When I started at Freehold FuncoLand that next weekend, I was welcomed by the staff with open arms. Angel, Karl, Scott, Chris, and Will were great guys to work with and they made the transition very smooth.
During my first Sunday shift with Will, I told him how Darren saved my butt with Keith and he was the reason I still had a job. Will told me that Darren did not do anything. He then proceeded to tell me that Keith called him up and reamed him out for butting his nose into the situation. Keith then told Will that if he wanted “this problem” (meaning me) he could have me. With that Keith called Darren into the backroom and asked Darren if he had a problem with me going to work with Will. Darren said he did not, as long as I was out of Toms River, he didn’t care. So all in all, it was Will who really was my saving grace and I never forgot that.
I worked as 3rd Key at Freehold FuncoLand from December of 2000 until April of 2001. That May I went back to my home, Toms River store #307. You see Darren mysteriously quit one day a few months after I left. Jed was promoted to Manager and was having a hard time running things on his own. One Saturday I had stopped in to visit Jed to say “Hi!”. He talked about what happened back in December and he admitted to me he was wrong to let Darren use him as a pawn in an effort to get me fired. I respected this from Jed and we made amends. Jokingly he said, “I could really use a 3rd Key like you!” and I said to him that I’d be willing to come back as I was about to come home for the Summer and the idea of commuting to Freehold every day didn’t appeal to me. We shook on it and I was welcome to come back to Toms River when I came home. I let Will know of my plans and we parted ways. It was the last time I would see Will for quite some time…
I was hired to work at store #307 before it had even opened back in the Fall of 1998. That store was my home and it felt great to be back behind those walls. Jed and I became friends and had many great times working together. I was glad we were able to work past the bullshit Darren put us through and Jed saw Darren for what he was.
Many months later when Toms River FuncoLand closed its doors in November of 2001 (another story for another day), I grabbed every piece of memorabilia I could on my way out, including my own employee records. In my file, I discovered two formal write-ups and one record of a verbal warning all written by Darren. To this day, I don’t recall the verbal warning or even signing the formal write up that I did. Strangely enough, the date of the verbal warning does not coincide with the date of the first formal write up. The second formal write-up was for the paycheck incident, I was never asked to sign it. This disciplinary documentation is very shady and was aggravating to read so many months after it happened. It made me even more proud of the fact that even with all of his might, Darren still could not bring me down.
I’ve attached the original write up documentation here in its entirety for the record. Enjoy reading what a horrible employee I was: