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Kinko's Copy Queen

My ex-husband worked at FedEx Kinko's in 2004, so when he told me I wasn't allowed to work at the restaurant anymore because he thought my boss had a crush on me, naturally I applied to Kinko's. He was hired on at a full twenty cents an hour more than I was, but I didn't complain because I had a job. I would start out part time, completely open availability, and work my way into full time. I couldn't work in the same store as my husband, so they put me in another near by location run by the same manager. I never told my ex that he had been hired at a higher rate of pay than I had been. He had a temper. I never liked seeing that side of him.

Humberto was my first friend. We went through training at the same time and both worked really hard. He was a few years younger than I was and incredibly funny. People couldn't help but like Humberto.

Humberto and I both worked out in the "Self Serve" area, where our biggest challenge was trying to calm people down when they didn't understand that the paper was supposed to go face up on the copier. Their copies would pile up, hundreds of sheets of blank paper spitting out in a neat pile, nothing but the speck of dust on the glass screen copied onto their surfaces.

"Well why don't you have a sign that says that?" They would ask in a snotty, pretentious, snide, sarcastic and down right rude manner.

"We do," I would say at first, while pointing to the little picture. "I guess it's not as clear as it could be, but this shows that all the writing is one the front side, meaning to put the paper face up."

"It's not clear. I'm not paying for these." I got so tired of that. Eventually I just retorted with a simple line.

"It's there for people who look." I always said it as sweet as sugar though. Humberto would laugh at me every time.

Gavin was another of my favorite people, though he worked with my ex-husband rather than me. He was sweet and kind. He was highly religious, but he never pushed his religion on others. I always respected that about him. Nearly 100% Irish, he was a devout Catholic kid, extremely handsome and loved by all who met him. He never got tired of explaining the copier to the customers. He would gladly help them print their photos out on glossy paper if the customer didn't know how. He would practically bend over backwards to do whatever someone asked of him - and he wasn't on the self-serve side. He was on what we called the "production" side, where the Kinko's employees did the entire project for the customer behind the counter. Often that's what the "Self Serve" side started to feel like.

"I can't"
"I don't know how."
"I don't get it."

It's like teaching algebra to a bunch of first graders. Once in a great blue moon, one might actually pick up on some part of it, but don't hold your breath. Gavin never lost his temper with anyone, and he was always helping out even when he didn't need to.

Robert worked in the Shipping Department. He was funny, genuine and constantly chasing the skirts. He never had a girlfriend when I knew him, but he really was a charming guy. I just adored him, as he reminded me of my older brother. I imagine the two of them would have gotten along famously. The shipping department was rather close to the Self Serve department, and when Humberto was promoted to the "Production" side of the store, I started to talk to Robert a lot more. He became a pretty good friend to me that I could talk to about almost anything in the world. I would hug him before leaving at the end of the day if I left first, and he did the same with me. If we left at the same time, often we would stand in the parking lot and talk for an hour.

Courtney came to work with me out in the Self Serve area after Humberto switched sides. She was amazing. She was just like Gavin, she never lost her temper with the customers. Sure, we would laugh behind their backs about some of the stupid things they would say or do, but we never did it in front of them. That would just be rude.

Finally we found another manager for our store, and my ex husband's boss was no longer our boss too. Her name was Kathy and everyone liked her right off the bat. She was full of dreams and goals. Unfortunately it wasn't the only thing she was full of. I learned that one first hand.

She was nice, sure. Her biggest problem was that she didn't follow through. She would tell me about some promotion opportunity that was going to open up and she wanted me to apply for. She was going to make sure I got it, and then she would sit down and explain to me later why the MAN that was hired was far more qualified for the job than I was. That happened a total of three times in as many months. I became disenchanted with her and lost interest.

Courtney had announced she found another job. Humberto no longer talked with me because he wasn't allowed to. Kathy had rules against people on the production side talking with people on the self-service side. Robert and I had such a wedge built between us because of Kathy that work was no longer a fun place to be. Gavin; poor Gavin. Without warning one day we were all invited to his funeral. None of us could understand what had happened. There were rumors going around about him being found with a gun shot wound to the head. We were all completely distraught. We couldn't figure out who in the world would have broken into Gavin's home and shot him. He was such a kind person. Everyone loved Gavin. He was always in church if he wasn't at work or in school. He had friends everywhere. Quite literally thousands of people showed up to his funeral. With Celtic roots, none of us were surprised when Amazing Grace was played on the bagpipes. Most of us in attendance wept. By the end of the song, there wasn't a dry eye among those thousands.

Gavin wasn't murdered. It wasn't a robbery gone wrong. It wasn't even a gun cleaning accident. Poor Gavin; sweet, gentle and kind Gavin - he saw no way out of the stress, anger and depression. Gavin had killed himself. We didn't know for weeks after the funeral. It started to sink in when we realized there was nothing in the newspaper about a murder or robbery gone wrong. There was no autopsy. There was no investigation. There was only a funeral - a sad, quiet, lonely and crowded funeral.

Towards the end of my time at Kinko's, I started to loose complete interest in my job. The people got onto my nerves more. I was tired of explaining the difference between face up and face down. Life was too short, Gavin had succeeded in showing us all that simple fact. Finally, one day I snapped.


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