Tops Never Stops

Before we discovered the gloriousness that is Wegmans we frequented Tops. It has been well noted already that during the Princeton Era Mike and I made at least a daily trek to Tops since it was so close. Another beacon to the hospital white walls of Tops was Matt’s long-time employ at Tops on Delaware.

Matt was one of the first employees to this branch of the Tops franchise. He had an interview in the trailer on the lot while the building was still being constructed. Some relative of Matt was involved so it was an easy position to acquire, not that cart-boy is an excessively hard job to get. Matt started work in Spring. His plan was to work until the first day of snow, and then quit. “Matt doesn’t work in the snow” was his mantra.

Months later the Matt was pushing carts when he was called into the office. The Tops lords had vision enough to see that Matt was more than a cart-boy. He was immediately reassigned to an inside position in the Butcher’s Block. At the close of his shift that day Matt stepped outside and gazed up into the sky. The first snowflakes of the season gently fell upon his brow. The gods had smiled upon our hero. He was not longer a cart boy. But you must pay the gods a price; Matt was still employed at Tops, or in an indirect way Ahol (the parent, and appropriately named, company of Tops).

Speaking of Ahol, the scuttlebutt is that the local mafia allowed Ahol to purchase Tops as long as they maintained control of the Tops Union. This is all hearsay, so if I wake up with the horse head in my dead tomorrow you will know the arm of the Buffalo mafia extends to the West Coast.

On our way to Comstock to waste time, we took great joy in visiting Matt during his work hours. This was particularly true when he was a lowly cart boy. On one of the rare occasions we had Sean with us we made such a trip for supplies. Sean was known for his fearless driving and his habit of stopping at Noco to “fill er up” with whatever change he had in his pocket. I was once a first-hand witness to his purchase of 32 cents worth of fuel. Today that is not enough for them to let you lift the nozzle.

We spoke to Matt on the way into Tops. He had just spent a considerable amount of time in the classic “stack a fuck-load of carts together from all across the parking lot” so he could push them all back at once. His cart-stack lot was near the Tops entrance, and when we returned from purchase of our supplies (Mountain Dew, pretzels, frozen burritos, etc.) we found Matt no where to be found. As we left Sean took the opportunity to drive his car into the cart-stack Matt had painstakingly constructed. He pushed the cart-stack to the far corner of the parking lot. At first he drove at a slow pack, until we saw Matt running at us, at which time Sean sped up. The exceedingly heavy cart-stack was left in the farthest corner. We sped of laughing. At least we gave Matt something to do for the last hour of his shift.

Once inside, Matt quickly rose to the rank of 95% Butcher. What is 95% Butcher? After a year of working primarily in the Butcher’s Block Matt observed that the only difference between an official Butcher and an experienced meat man, like himself, was knowing how to properly cut 5 specific meats. As there 5 meats are expensive, they did not let anyone slice them, nor were they purchased frequently enough for Matt to get enough practice. We all spurred him on to complete his training and have a viable skill. Eventually Matt was able to get in enough practice in two of these elusive meats, so he settled at 97% Butcher. As I conclude this section it strikes me that this post will burn a few of Matt’s bridges.

Matt was a valuable Tops associate for nearly seven years. He quit before hitting the seven year point because that would be when a part-time associate would be granted a 401k. While the rest of us saw this as an obvious fruit to grab, Matt saw this as a sign he had been defeated by the preverbal Man.

Continuing this HR showcase of Tops benefits we come to the period when Tops began selling Tops branded apparel. Tops management required employees to wear this apparel initially, no doubt to spur on the awaiting masses who couldn’t possibly hold back from spending thousands on Tops sweatshirts. The slap in the face was that associates were required to pay for these required textiles. What a joke.

Tops exposed us to several characters, and once again showcased the intelligence of the average person. The most memorable example of this was when Matt related some story of some random activity of our crew. “What does phallic mean?” interjected one of typical Tops zombies. Matt was befuddled that he did not know what phallic was? He now had is shift project. He left the blob with no better knowledge and spent the rest of him shift polling all his co-workers as the meaning of phallic. To his astonishment one one other employee knew the word. During his polling he even received commentary that phallic was not a common word many people would know. Matt left his shift to relate this happenstance to the rest of us. Until this incident we did not know it was possible to NOT know what phallic meant.

Matt mined a number of girlfriends out of seven year stint. I recall one who became a vegetarian because she was fat. Success! She lost weight. Unfortunately she was still not satisfied, so she pushed the envelope even more, and became vegan. This relationship did not last long.

Matt also met the same girl that absconded with Matt and James in the infamous “I’ll never set foot in a gay bar” story that was the first post on this blog.

An experienced Matt sat in the Tops atrium enjoying his mandatory earned break. A frantic woman ran up, “There is a used condom over there!” “Really? Where?” The woman took Matt half-way across the parking lot to what was absolutely confirmed as a under condom, still filled with a “rush of excess fluids.”

Matt concluded his inspection and headed back, but to the dismay of the woman, he did not return with any cleaning equipment. Matt, instead, plopped himself back on the atrium bench. “Aren’t you going to clean that us?” she explained. “Lady, I’m on my break.”

The bulk of Matt’s time at Tops had him stationed in the Butcher’s Block, or as we more affectionately referred to it – the Meat department. Matt divulged two secrets of the Meat department. One; they kept a small Igloo cooler ready to go at someone, ironically usually one of the professional butchers, cut off a finger and was rushed to the hospital, finger piece encased in the Igloo cooler, to have it sewn back on. The success rate was quite high. Two; the Meat department kept an open bowl into which they threw any scraps, be they on the floor or wherever, into this bowl. When the bowl was full, then they ground up the scraps and sold it under the label of “meat”. Funnily enough, years before, during the Goodyear era, I had spied one of these and bought it for the label humor.

Matt enjoyed a time where he was double employed. His second job, the more prestigious one, was the all powerful Mighty Taco on Sheridan and NFB. Mighty Taco gives you a week to study the menu before taking a test. You have to know all menu items, and their component’s with amounts from memory. Matt passed and became a Mighty Taco employee. We gave him a goal of finding out what the beef was, as he felt Mighty Taco was superior to Taco Bell in every aspect, except the beef. Since this was sacrilege we was to solve the mystery now that he had access.

Matt soon grew to dislike the manager. She ruled with an iron fist, holding weekly meetings that Matt was 2 minutes late for once. She fired him for this. Matt suspects that he was really fired because he was telling the other employees how the manager had terrible skills, and was a bitch to boot. He did not notice until too late that she was in the building, and overheard, walking in on his conversation just at the end of Matt’s tirade. He never solved the “Riddle of Beef.”

Like the recent rash of professional athletes that pretend to retire, Matt too had an encore tour at Tops. I made a visit to him once during this tour. He was working the night shift stocking the frozen foods isles. Like the athlete that plays one more season when he should have walked away, it was sad to see Matt, the once lord of part-time associates, reduced to a zero visibility position.

Another of our crowd spent some time employed at Tops, Chester. He gleefully gave us reports as to his rapid rise to the “Express Lane”, giving us tips as to how he became one of these best of the best. He switched sides from making bewildered fun of the Tops cashiers who wore rubber thimbles to wearing one himself.

Having been a Tops associate for such a long time, Matt was well versed with the employee handbook. There was a statute of limitations on anything you did of five years. The exact day the limit was us, he spilled the beans of what he had done to his co-worked in the back of the store, as he was leaving for his shift. It took Matt 2 minutes to walk our the front of the store, and by then the news had traveled faster than his ironically unmeaty legs could carry him. An example of just how efficient the Tops grapevine is.

What was Matt’s hidden crime? Back when he was still a cart-boy he abandoned his post, walked across the street, and saw a movie at the old Super Saver Cinema. When the movie was over he walked back across the street and took his break.

Saving You More?

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Excess Fluids

For some time, I have been berated by the other posters here to put my thoughts down in writing, and I have struggled with a unifying theme. I now give up on that and present you with a few barely related tales for your amusement. Much of the detail may be at Wolf-like accuracy although I am pretty clear on the final story.

Despite our limited means, the group of us (or some combination thereof) often found ourselves eating at restaurants (usually at an ungodly late hour). Naturally, the most common habitats were Perkins, Denny’s, and Mighty Taco. As you may imagine, these excursions were not marked by a sudden improvement in the behavior of the participants, despite the public location. Mostly, we were treated to the usual stares befitting a group of gamers ranting publically about whether a single goblin (summoned into a closet) could slay the entire group with just a short sword. There were one or two times when behavior went well beyond the pale.

One day, for some odd reason, Dan was eating with Aaron and I at Mighty Taco (others may have been present, but forgotten). It was generally agreed that we should not act out too much in Mighty Taco, as we needed the comfort of returning endlessly for more bean burritos and Cherry Coke (consumed by all, except for Aaron with his frequent nacho fixation). Despite this, Dan as usual would not be restrained and insisted upon speaking freely whenever he sat down with us. As I recall, Dan’s philosophy in this matter was that free speech was his *right* and anyone attempting to restrain him would pay the price – to quote Dan, “PUBLIC HUMILIATION!”. On this particular occasion, prompted by Aaron, he began to elaborate (while we ate) upon an alleged experience with fisting:

Aaron: “So what was it like, Dan?”
Dan: “Well, first I got myself slathered in lube up to the wrist. Then, after working up a good lather, I squeezed my hand together and RAMMED IT IN HER ASS!” (shouted)
(At this point, the nearby family was quite startled at this exclamation. I recall looking around sheepishly.)
Aaron: “And then what? How did she react?”
At this point, Dan was in full out acting mode and stated in no uncertain terms:

“Well, you see, first there was a RUSH OF EXCESS FLUIDS THAT POURED OUT!”

This led to full out flight by all parties seated near us. We nearly immediately had half the restaurant to ourselves. This incident stands out in my mind as far more inappropriate than the “In The Brown” proclamations at Tops, and should form a significant part of the legend of Mooney. If anyone asks why he was not at my wedding, they should probably re-read this tale.

Another story which seems to have been forgotten is the tale of Matt and the “guy who only wanted to have a drink with Matt”. Recent speculation on this topic leads me to write it down, and those in the know will smack their foreheads and wonder why they did not embellish upon this tale first. Matt began his college life at ECC City. However, at end of a semester (1st, 2nd, whenever) we asked Matt when he would be ready to move up to UB. He explained that he would be going to ECC North the following semester, because he did not like it at ECC City and as a result was not doing as well as he should. Despite Matt’s other oddities this came as a surprise, because he was known as having a decent Intelligence (but, according to some well-regarded observers, low Wisdom). Knocking it out of the park at ECC City didn’t seem like a big stretch. Further inquiries led to the astonishing result that he had apparently received 4 F’s and a D in his coursework, because halfway through the session he had stopped attending and never went back to finish the courses (I have always wondered about the professor who still awarded a D). However, much more interesting than Matt’s poor decision to not drop the classes was the reason for his sudden avoidance of the place.

As the story goes, Matt was trying to leave one of his classes on the top floor of the ECC City building. However, he encountered a guy (whether street person or classmate was never clarified) who was strung out on drugs – allegedly PCP or something of its ilk. The unnamed, undescribed individual wanted Matt to go across the street for a drink with him. Matt deferred, being below legal age at this point and uninterested in the company of said crazed, stoned individual. However, the junkie would hear nothing of Matt’s denials, and insisted forcefully that Matt accompany him to the bar. In a classic move, Matt proceeded to run down the stairs. Now, as described to me (I have no firsthand knowledge of the place), the City campus building had a stairwell or atrium which was up to 4-5 stories high. Matt fled downstairs to the lobby, while the acid tripper watched him run. At the bottom, Matt made the mistake of looking up at his pursuer. To hear Matt tell the tale, at that very moment his future drinking buddy smiled and leaped right over the railing. One imagines this guy assuming a skydive position, falling in slow motion, grungy clothes flapping, until WHAM! he lands sprawled out in a heap right at Matt’s feet. Seeing someone hurl themselves off a balcony onto a hard floor would be bad enough; as the story goes, however, thanks to the drug-addled state of this daredevil, he immediately stood up and seized the helpless Matt. They proceeded across the street for a drink, after which Matt was released, his paranoia leading him to never return to the site of this shocking incident. I’m pretty sure Matt also got fake throat cancer shortly afterwards, which might have helped prevent the dropping of classes.

Having been scarred for life by the sight of a man leaping from 4 stories and surviving (or 4 steps up the stairs, if you take other people’s version), stricken with swollen glands misdiagnosed as possibly fatal thyroid cancer, and crawling around his house for days with a near-bursting appendix, Matt eventually still recovered to attend ECC North and UB, putting him well in-line with the rest of the group. This was also very convenient for Dan, who was able to obtain an ECC North ID with Matt’s name and info on it, but Dan’s picture. That was a bucket of laughs until Matt got the overdue library notices and figured it all out. Interestingly, Dan was also known to identify himself as “Matt” when he needed an alias for the occasional casual encounter; a tactic which he must have taught to Eliot Spitzer. (For those not in the know, Eliot Spitzer used the alias “George Fox” for his interactions with the escort service; George Fox is a “good friend” of the ex-governor’s in real life. When I read this, I thought immediately of Dan and Matt). I will not reveal the details of those casual encounters here, other than to note that if you are going to hook up with a random chick at a Metallica concert, using an alias is probably best practice.

So, having now seen how Matt became reunited with the rest of the group school-wise (myself excepted), we must turn our attention to a final legendary encounter. One evening, I met up with a fairly large group at Denny’s on Niagara Falls Boulevard. This was a place we knew well – the same place where I recall Matt once emerging from the restroom and stating point-blank to his girlfriend, “No matter how good you are, you will never be as satisfying as a good dump.” Ever the romantic! In any case, the group this night consisted of Matt, Sue (the Boot), Dan, myself, and some additional meat sacks. I have no idea who the meat sacks were and they might even have been people who mattered; but my memory of this night only consists of what transpired between the four named individuals. We were seated in the following pattern:


      Dan  Others..
      ————–
Sue  |
Matt |
      ————–
      Me   Others…

Of course, Sue was with Matt at the time. I do not recall if this was before or after she went from Dan to Matt to Dan or Matt to Dan to Matt or whatever that whole incident was. In any case, Dan, Matt, and I were having some type of deep conversation – most likely about Spelljammer – when we noticed that Matt seemed distracted. Now, Matt did occasionally tend to get a dumbfounded look on his face, but this one seemed like his eyes were glazed over. It was then that I noticed that Sue’s shoulder was moving. Matt’s breathing seemed somewhat affected and I quickly looked away and back at Dan. Dan, no stranger to porn, also detected the tell-tale signs of some “manipulation” going on – under the table and presumably inside Matt’s pants. Here we all were, in a Denny’s, only 2-3 feet away from the too-intimate couple. There was no escape for me either, as I was in a booth. Dan looked at me, shook his head and said in a relatively low voice, “I can’t fucking believe this, man.” For some reason, I picked up the small, white package of liquid coffee creamer at that point. I twirled it in my hands, looked at Dan, looked at Matt, and looked back at Dan. At no point in my life was I more in sync mentally with Dan then at that moment. Instant recognition of my thoughts appeared on my face as Dan said loudly “JUST DO IT, MAN!!!”. I looked again at Matt’s face; he seemed puzzled by the fact that I was holding forth a coffee creamer, since I was drinking Coke.

In a moment of misplaced compassion, I turned back to Dan and said “I just can’t”. Well, one thing I can say is, Dan is a man of action. He immediately seized the creamer from my hands, ripped open the package and proceeded to hurl it into Matt’s chest and lap with perfect aim. The effect was instantaneous; Matt’s eyes widened as the white drops of creamer splashed a line-like pattern up his body, contrasting sharply against his prized black trenchcoat. Before Matt could even object, Dan followed up with a shout:

“SORRY MATT, DID YOU HAVE A LITTLE ACCIDENT!!”

Naturally, the rest of the table which had been oblivious to the situation was now staring at Matt, dripping creamer from his chest, as he said “Dan, what the hell!” Sue seemed to be having quite a laugh over the situation, which only made Matt angrier. I do not recall the exact exchange between Dan and Matt, but it boiled down to the following points:

Dan and I: “What the hell did you expect to happen, doing that right next to us at Denny’s?”
Matt: “This trenchcoat cost $300 and you threw creamer on it!”

Matt refused to even give Dan a ride home, declared him an ex-friend, and stormed out with Sue in tow. Fortunately, I had driven to the restaurant and gave Dan a lift, with much rejoicing on the way home. This part of the story was classic enough as-is, especially if you could have seen the look on Matt’s face. However, the real payoff came a day or two later when we reconciled with Matt. He admitted the humor value of the entire operation, and moved this into the category of legend with the following summary:

“The sad part is, Sue really thought I had finished.”

Larry, Me, and a Bee

Given the recent comment of a Larry fan on our disclaimer page my fancy was tickled to document this story.

Back when I was unemployed for eight months, in the time before I was a post man (another story to come) I would spend the morning search thew web for jobs, then going to the gym. I still had a membership to the Buffalo Athletic Club (BAC) and Larry was a trainer at Baily’s. Larry provided me with a free pass for a few months. I would go to the BAC in the afternoon, hand out at home, then head over to Baily’s in the evening for a change of pace. Sometimes I would that around and go to Baily’s in the afternoon.

One day I head into Baily’s to run on the treadmill. Larry spy’s me and comes over, “Hey dude. When you leave can you give me a ride to pick up my car?” A simple request correct? As you will soon see, nothing is ever that simple with Larry.

I had not spent any time with Larry in many months at this juncture, hence forgetting the high score of Larry’s chaos factor. Larry had two free day passes to Darien Lake. I was shocked when we lasted the entire day without an incident. When we left Darien Lake we spotted two girls peeing in between cars in the parking lot. Not directly Larry’s fault, but close enough.

I track down Larry after I complete my work out. I find that Larry left his car in the Mighty Taco parking lot at the corner of Sheridan and Niagara Falls Blvd. The car had stalled and so he flagged down a ride some one of the millions of people he knows, or just talked some passer-by into driving him around. Larry has this cloud of Chaos and influence. Anyone who knows Larry has experienced this.

Larry: “Dude, I’ll square you away if you give me a ride home.”
Stranger: “What? Huh? I don’t even know you.”
Larry: “”I’ll totally hook you up.”
Stranger: “OK”

Larry being Larry left his car in the parking lot for five days. We pull into the parking lot and low and behold (I have never written that phase before :)) half the parking lot is sectioned off and a crew is re-paving this area. There is no sign of Larry’s vehicle. We pull up to a three-some that appear to be in charge. Larry hangs him imposing body literally half out my door.

Larry: “Dude, what happened to the cars that were here?”
Dude: “We posted a warning notice four days ago. The remaining cars were towed to Brown’s Auto.”
Larry: “DAMN IT! *violently pounds the side of my car, scaring the three-some into taking a simultaneous step back*

Larry needs to figure out what he is gonna do, so we head over to Wegman’s back by Baily’s to grab lunch. Naturally I have to pay for Larry, which I do not learn until we are checking out. While eating Larry, of course, runs into some other man he knows and we waste some time talking to this fool. While he did not exhibit any foolish qualities I did not know him so I dub him a fool. Larry borrows my cell to call Brown’s Auto. He stares at the phone a minute before, “How do I make a call?”, “Dial the number and press call.” He is again denied as his fingers are too fat to depress a mere single buttons, hence like cutting the meat of a two year old, I dial the number for him; and for a bonus I press the call button for him.

Larry speaks calmly to Brown’s Auto frantically makes a pen motion in the air to elicit a writing implement from me. I supply said implement and Larry scrawls the info required to retrieve his car on the place mat on his Wegman’s deli tray. Lunch shortly thereafter ends and after Larry dumps his entire tray into the garbage I remark, “Didn’t you need that?” Larry responds with an expletive. He makes a lone attempt to retrieve the info by thrusting his arm into the bassura bin, and then decides he will just call Brown’s Auto again – at a later date.

The final incident in our story occurs as exit Wegman’s. I unlock the car doors with the key chain as we approach my car. Larry enters the car as I pause a minute to put something in my pocket. Suddenly my car gyrated as Larry was waving his arms in a panic mode. He threw open the door and lept out, screaming and dancing around. He scared the crap out of the old lady passing by. It has just now occurred to me the trend of screaming and old ladies (see the “In the Brown” story). Apparently a bee had infiltrated my car.

I drove Larry back to Bally’s and did not see him again for a few days. A typical three hour lunch. I never found out of Larry retrieved his car.

Mighty Taco Comment Cards II

What was left out before were all of the joke comment cards we did. 

Such as the cards from, “Klatu from Polaris”; The cards about he Arabs calling a Jyhad on the store; People who work there being cited for termination because of their contact with the being “Klatu from Polaris.”

Mouse’s ones were the worst. He had a real psychotic rage going on in them. One I remember was: “There were only five beef and been burritos in my party pack. Ha! I took a shit on your floor. Fuck you.”

We wrote a follow up to that one, which read, “I went into your bathroom and there was a big pile of shit on the floor. Man, why don’t you clean that up.?”

Another nasty Mouse one was, “Why did that girl behind the counter laugh at me? Stupid bitch, I ought to take the icicle out of her cunt and shove it through her fucking heart. “

 Loads of fun.

Mighty Taco Comment Cards

There is a local Mexican fast food joint called Mighty Taco in Buffalo. It is the first thing I hear anyone who moves away say they miss. And they define what is fast food. Sometimes I would get my order before I got my change. Their place mats are also drawn monthly by a local artist. Take a look the Flickr feed for this blog for a gallery of my collection of Mighty Taco place mats. On to the real story.

Schultz was previously employed at Mighty Taco. Each time any of the rest of us visited his Mighty Taco we look lost of comment cards, which he told us they read every one, and filled one out with some comment about switching to Pepsi so they would serve Mountain Dew (at a later date they did – THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE!) and how Schultz did a fantastic job. Our goal was to get Schultz promoted to Manager. We started to take comment cards home and force all visitors to write a comment card promoting Schultz and Dew, and whatever else they wanted. We even spent a night drinking and filing out comments cards. We had to use fake names for each card so as not to look suspicious. Knaus even make his cards a series from the same guy. He spoke of how the service was great but the bathroom needed cleaning because he walked in on people having sex. When we had at least a hundred cards complete we drove around to drop a few in each mailbox we could find, once again to not look suspicious. This didn’t last past the first mailbox. Dan just dumped them all in the mailbox outside of Schultz’s mailbox and for some reason we then ran.

Post Mortem: Schultz was later fired for being 5 minutes late to a meeting by his manager who he had said “sucks” the day before. He made his derogatory comment about the manager to a co-worker but invoked his Irish Whisper so the manager, who was behind him heard him clearly.