Next month marks a whopping two years since I quit my job at GameStop. February 2011 was a time of huge change for me! I was planning a trip to Ireland, and then after that I moved down to California to begin the next chapter of my life. It's a new year now, 2013 ahoy, and I'm feeling nostalgic about the old game store.
The other day a friend wanted to pop down to a new location a few towns over from where I worked, but he wondered if I'd be bothered about seeing people I used to work with:
"Unless you don't want to see anyone you know," he said.
"Oh I won't know anyone that works at this location," I replied.
We walk into the store and the first person I saw was a manager whom I'd met a few times, but spoke on the phone with on a regular basis when I was a manager. He had been with the company for a long time and frequently transferred to new or troubled stores to clean things up. My jaw nearly hit the floor with irony and delight.
I spoke to him, he remembered me, and we chatted briefly about our tenure with GameStop. It was a nice visit, and reminded me of one of the best things about my time there: the people. One of my best friends now started out as a simple co-worker, and some of my best memories are of goofing off with my long-term manager. When I talk about the ridiculous and bad things that happened during my six year employment people often ask why I stayed for so long. My immediate answer is, "Because I loved my co-workers."
On a different and more selfish level, it's also because I loved being in the game industry. No matter how peripherally. I had constant access to release date lists, e-mails about pre-release information, and GameInformer. I could look at the magazines if I wanted, read all the backs of all the boxes, ask customers first hand what they thought of titles, and I could watch the games rise and fall in popularity. Based off of trade in trends I could tell which games were long or short, which were good or bad. I knew the rares from the commons. I had an expansive knowledge base even though I had experienced only a fraction of the games for myself.
Of course it wasn't all fun and games (pun intended?). I was yelled at by customers, there were late nights and long open-to-close shifts. Stores were dirty, people were mean, co-workers were incompetent. I dealt with thieves, irresponsible children, and I lost my temper a time or two. Once resulting in a broken phone and another in a dislodged ceiling tile. My wage was bad and my hours were inconsistent, but part of me really loved my job. And I was fiercely dedicated to my store. I took great pride in working there.
It's strange to go into my old location and see people I don't know and floor setups that I didn't build. I just want to wander behind the counter and start processing trade ins all, "It's cool I used to be a manager here."
I don't think they'd like that, though.