Working at Channel Home Center in Harrisburg was not my idea of fun. And I never thought of it as a career. At the time in 1977 it was the only job outside of Richland that I could find, as I had experience working at my parents’ hardware store.
But I did work hard, and I must have impressed the management team during my first week on the job, because they then held my position for me for three weeks when I was laid up due to an auto collision.
I probably have Ron Massal to thank for that. Thanks, Ron. Wherever you are.
I fairly quickly became a group manager, and whenever a new Channel store was being set up somewhere in the area, I was usually dispatched to help whip it into shape. In fact, when the Hagerstown, Maryland, store was being organized, Channel paid for me to go down there for several days to help with the setup.
It wasn’t long before the regional manager approached me about getting into the management program. This was the real management program, not the bogus fast track one. I resisted, because I was pretty sure I didn’t want to spend my life working at Channel.
But I liked a lot of my co-workers. In fact, Sue (I forget her last name) and I got along well, so I had her and her husband Mike over for dinner one time.
For some reason that I’ve long since forgotten, Sue got on the bad side of manager Cort. In fact, they were barely on speaking terms except when absolutely necessary.
And then sometime in 1979 our store won some sort of contest. Or perhaps it was Cort who won the contest, something to do with the top four managers in the Channel enterprise, or the top four performing stores. The prize that Channel was giving to each of these top four managers was an evening for two in New York City with dinner at an expensive restaurant followed by tickets to Annie, which then was a big hit on Broadway.
Now Cort didn’t particularly like musicals, so he asked if I’d like to go in his place. Of course I said yes. And I asked Sue if she wanted to join me. Of course we didn’t tell Cort that Sue would be accompanying me.
So on a warm summer night in July 1979 I drove us to NYC (as one of the songs in Annie calls it), and we joined the other couples at the Spindletop Restaurant on 48th Street. They knew that I was subbing for Cort, of course, but they just assumed that Sue was my wife, and neither Sue nor I did anything to disabuse them of that.
It was a great meal, and we asked the head waiter if we could postpone dessert until after the show. Since Channel was paying for it, the waiter had no objection.
We all enjoyed the show, although Andrea McArdle was no longer in the cast (the title role was now being played by some unknown named Sarah Jessica Parker), and then we returned to the restaurant for dessert.
Afterwards, I drove us back home to Harrisburg. It was a very long night. We got home well after 3:00 AM.
I always wondered if Cort ever spoke to any of those other managers about that evening. What was his reaction when they mentioned my lovely wife?