RIP Senator Ted Kennedy

I feel a need to say something here on my blog considering that Sen. Kennedy was a strong supporter of the Hate Crimes Bill. The Hate Crimes Bill that would protect and prevent attacks like the one that happened to my friends and I. He even used our case as part of his floor debate in favor of the Hate Crimes Bill. Senator Kennedy served his country with dignity and honor. He truly cared about his constituents and will be missed.


Honeymoon at Blue Osa

Apparently, while I was in Costa Rica this past year I got married to a woman and I am now featured on the Blue Osa website under honeymoons. Yes, this picture was taken of me and a female during a photo shoot for the website while we were there. Don't we look like such a loving couple. A couple who is enjoying a romantic stroll down the beach. This photo was actually a blast to take as we were really just goofing around for a few minutes, but Yogi A is really good with photoshop!

By the way if you really want to honeymoon in Costa Rica, or at the Blue Osa go to!

Express Men: Good Customer Service Intentions Poorly Executed

With the promotion, and Rush arriving at my store I needed some new clothes so that I looked AGM worthy. I have always been one of the youngest in my positions, and this one isn't much different, plus I look younger than I am,(Shut-up S... or I will spill your secret on this blog) so sometimes the clothes make the difference. During Rush I always try to dress with authority.

Anyway back to the point of the story, I went to Express, which is one of my favorite stores because they have nice work clothing at reasonable prices, cut for those of us who are smaller in stature. While the Doctor hates shopping I dragged him along anyway for moral support and fiscal control.

We walk into the store and are greeted not by a sales associate but by blaring music and a throng of people throwing merchandise. I immediately find a pair of pants that I like and while I am rummaging through the pile looking for my size an associate greets me and asks me if I need help. I ask for my size and he immediately replies... "I don't have a 30x30 in these but I have a 33x30 and a belt..." I cut him off and say no thank you but I would appreciate if he looked in the back for a 30x30. He wanders away and I'm flabergasted, the Doctor just laughs. Three inches on the waist of a mens pant is a big difference, one that a belt can not fix!

The associate returns with my pants, exactly the ones I asked for, in a size 30x30 that he found in the back. I thank him for actually going to check. Yes, I was a bit snide but he deserved it. I continued browsing and located a shirt and tie that I really liked and searched for it. I was reluctant to ask the same sales associate who provided me with the well intentioned information previously, but alas I could not locate the items so I asked. No sir we don't have that at all he replies to my question. Well, why do you have it on the manequin I think to myself... before I can get any words out he is recommending a large shirt that is completely different from the one I asked about...

This is when I had to set the man straight, his intentions were right but he was going about it in the wrong way, and I just couldn't take it anymore, in an outburst I kindly exclaim...

"Sir, all I asked was if you had that in stock, I don't need other options from you, please just answer my question."

The Doctor laughed and excused himself from the store, I continued shopping, and if I had a question, I found another sales associate who provided much more useful information. I walked out with pants shirts and ties, and even got $75 off of my bill because I was so charming to the other sales associates.

I felt bad for this one guy, but he was just providing me with useless information. I wear a x-small and 30x30 so large and 33x30 does not help me in any way!

The Attack: One Year Later

Last year at this time I was being taken off to the Cape by the Doctor. Last year at this time I didn't know what happened to me. Last year at this time I didn't realize how lucky I was to be alive. I didn't know a year ago that I would have my head stomped on as Fabio Brandao and his friends screamed "die faggot die."

The dreams came back this week. The one where I would remember the start of the attack and wake up screaming and punching. Except the dream was different than it was last year. The dream was a series of vignettes. I saw the attack. I saw the man stomping on my skull. I saw the witness pull her car up so I wouldn't get run over. I saw JCH in a panic. I woke up in the hospital. The doctor came to take me away. I was back at work. I moved. And then the panic began again as the trial approached. Then there was a protest and the speech. There was support and new friends. I heard myself saying how lucky I was. I continued to live my life.

It has been a year of change for me and a year of growth. In my first post about the attack last year, you can sense the confusion and the anger in the writing. Even though I said numerous times that I would live my life, I wasn't sure I could. There was a lot of talk about the attack in the Boston media during those first few days. This news was scary to me, I had no idea how serious the attack was.

Soon after the attack I was back at work, and then before I knew it I had moved away to DC. I left my house and home for 10 years behind to start a new life. I thought I was getting over things, but the dreams continued. I would wake up every night screaming and punching. I almost broke my fist punching the headboard. The poor doctor was worried about me, and honestly worried for his own safety.

Over time the dreams began to subside. I was moving on with my life and living. The Doctor and I went to my high school reunion, we had Christmas, we went to Costa Rica, a new happy life was here for me. I was stronger than I had been. I knew I could continue living, and live my life happily. But in the back of my mind I was still scared, and I knew I was going to have to face Fabio Brandao once again.

In May it happened, The Commonwealth v. Fabio Brandao case started. This case kicked off a whirlwind of madness and emotions. I was in Boston once again and I was sitting in the courtroom facing my attacker. When he pled guilty I was happy for the plea, and then it began to sink in. How could this man who attacked three four people because he perceived them to be gay, get off without going o jail.

I began to get angry, and that's when something changed inside me. I was no longer scared, I turned my anger into something productive and began speaking out. This was the moment when I was really put what happened to me to good use and I spoke out. I spoke to a number of newspapers and news organizations. My first response to the sentence was published in Bay Window. At the same time Bay Windows published an article about the backlash to the sentence. It seemed like momentum was building and maybe what happened would result in a change to the system.

I spoke with a gentleman in Boston who rights a blog, David wrote a great article about the case and the sentence in his blog. And then there was a protest and I was asked to lend my words to the protest, I was hoping that those words would make a difference.

All of the articles, from The Blade to Metro Weekly, and the Weekly Dig. Even the Advocate published an online article, and my words were heard.

The protest and the articles were the tools that allowed me to move past the trauma and pain. They allowed me to realize that there was some good that could come out of this situation. Without the protest, and being able to speak out my dream would still end in the same place. It would end with me being the victim, on the ground with my head being stepped on... instead my dream ends with the passage of a Hate Crimes Bill, with movement towards equality, and change. I am proud to be a gay man, and I am proud to be part of change.

Of course I wish this didn't happen, but it has allowed me to see things I would have never seen before, and it allowed me to gain an understanding. I only hope that I have contributed to the change that is necessary.

Hello Promotion

I got the promotion I have been working towards for the last nine months today! Finally! I guess today is a good day, we will see what tomorrow brings!

Inappropriate Interview Questions

Our HR manager was conducting an interview over the phone yesterday when we had a blackout in the store. She insisted she didn't miss a beat and continued asking the normal questions she would ask any potential employee. However, we all believe that she may have slipped, just because we like to make fun of her. we just kept harassing her with innappropriate interview questions to ask in the dark! Below are some of the ones we sent her way, what about others you would have asked if you were conducting in the dark?

Now I know we discussed your job experience, but what are you wearing right now?

Hmmmm, it seems to be dark in here, what do you like to do in the dark?

Oh no, I seemed to have dropped my butchers knife, have you seen it?

Is that your foot working its way up my leg or am I just being hopeful?

And then we quickly ran out of interviewing in the dark questions and moved on to other sick and wrong questions that could possibly be asked in an interview. It was just fun to ask our ever so proper HR manager if she has ever asked questions like...

I know you are here for the job, but maybe we could go out for a drink instead?

How you doin'?

Now it says here you have been convicted of a crime, was it violent? Could I hire you to perform another violent act?

Do I look cute in this dress?

An entire series of other even more inappropriate questions followed but those can not be posted on this blog. While I have been known to curse or be wrong, these questions went over the line.

It is clearly getting far to close to Back to School Rush at this point because we are all getting punchy and wrong and making comments that we all understand and are not offended by, but the general public would be appalled. And while we were joking with the HR manager, fittingly the lights went out again...

Before the generator could kick on... she grabbbed my ass! I screamed. I threatened to call HR and file a complaint. Then I laughed!

Ode to Professionalism

Yesterday I got a message on my phone from one of my former co-workers in Boston. She was sending me a link to an article in the NY Times about textbooks. She sent me the message on face book but I told her to email me on my work email. She titled the email "Ode to Professionalism" and the following is the string of messages that followed that very professional email.

R: Now that you're in my address book I can harass you with some frequency

JRH: Fantastic and since you work for a publisher and I work for a bookstore nobody even has to know we aren't discussing work!!!!

R: I don't know what you're talking about. I only email about the most important of publishing/bookstore issues. Btw... I'm telling (sales rep)that you promise to be nice if she stops in because you LOVE little independent publishers (at least in comparison to some not to be named major media conglomerates).

JRH: Make an appointment!!

R: Send your ego out for a massage that day :P

JRH: When is she coming ill pencil her in. See how easy making an appointment is!

R: Oh please, like I keep track of when the reps are going anywhere :P

JRH: :-P

R: Stop bothering me; I'm very busy and important.

JRH: really do i need to make an appointment to bother you? I was just contributing to our ode to professionalism! I was thinking about publishing this ode on my blog!!!

R: As long as you take my name, email, and company off of it :P And you know I would never be so snotty as to require an appointment...Unlike SOME people. Lol

JRH: Of course don't you read my blog, i don't include anybodies name etc :-)are you calling me snotty

R: If it helps at all, I don't read any one's blog... I prefer long drawn out email conversations Yes, you elitist bookstore manager :P

JRH: but i have some great posts like how we nabbed a shoplifter with 20 bags of heroin on him i am not an elitist I am just good and manage 10 million dollars in business... ummm kinda busy

R: Hey, my textbook list was nothing to sneeze at and I didn't need no stinkin' appointments. Just sayin' man ;) You told me about the heroin over the phone. Isn't having LIVE CONVERSATIONS with people fun!! Hahahaha

JRH: You were the lead of a buying office... I have one buyer

R: Oh yeah, totally. Cause A. and N. did sooooooo much work. Really, it's a wonder A. had time for that porn habit. Lol

JRH: Hmmm I kinda forgot about the porn habit! Gotta love employees looking at porn at work. Seriously, how have we not written that bestseller yet. We could disguise it as fiction- nobody would believe us if we insisted it was real anyway!

R: Especially when we start naming the type of Web site he liked to visit. Since I've started telling that story (maybe 2,000 times)only ONE person has actually heard of that site. Amazing.

Oh god, and do you remember the couple in the bathroom when Ms. Amos came to visit?

JRH: oh yeah i forgot about the people in the bathroom during the Tori Amos thing, but don't get me started with Tori... hatred!

R: Oh come on, J's little f-up alone is worth telling that story. Hahaha. I have to say though, I honestly miss playing practical jokes on you. It's just not the same.

And so it continued over the course of two days, and that is our Ode to Professionalism!

Being A Bad Blogger and American Idol

So this past Friday I was sitting at home and reading some different ways to have a successful blog, and one of the things they suggest is to have a consistent theme. They tell you to write about the same area or subject. Well... I'm not very good at that because of my ADD! But I think I can make the argument that all the things going on in my mind is a single subject, its what's on my mind... right?

Anyway, many of you know that I am completely addicted to American Idol. I am horribly upset that Paula isn't returning this season for one simple reason... Who is going to bring the crazy? I hate Kara, she just won't do. A facebook friend suggested Whitney Houston would be a good replacement, and I agree, at least I know she would bring some crazy. But apparently, she is busy trying to make a comeback.

The reason I am writing this post this morning is because I heard on the radio that they are having Victoria Beckham judge for a second taping, and there is some talk that she could be one of the replacements for Paula, and well that is... MAJOR!

Yeah I know, I guess I'll never write a successful blog because I am all over the place in my posts... oh well!

Why I Should Write A Bestselling Book!

Earlier this week I was writing a blog post that I lost because the power in my computer somehow went out, mainly because I pulled the plug out of the wall. The post was about how I should write a book with all of the stories about working in the bookstore. Now, the post I was writing earlier in the week was about how things like being called by a former employee to bail them out of jail would only happen to me. Public drunkenness is generally a necessity for college students so I wasn't surprised, although this was very inconvenient.

However, yesterday this blog post changed and pretty much wrote itself. This is exactly why I need to write about about all the crazy things not only in my mind but what is happening in the bookstore. I am serious when I say that it would be a BESTSELLER!

Last night, I was part of a drug bust, one of the largest in the county where my bookstore resides so far this year. I walked out onto the sales floor and got the eyes from a fellow manager, the signal that there was a shoplifter that we needed to keep an eye on. Nametags were thrown off, and cell phones were pulled out. Applications were passed out with notes written on them to other people involved in the surveillance. As you can tell we have done this many times before. We had managers at the top of the stairs, employees acting like customers, and the ever so friendly, yet intimidating employees offering assistance. The phones at the desk were off the hook dialed into managers cell phones so we could hear the conversations. We are like a well oiled machine. All the while I hear the mission impossible theme song in my head.

I walk past the "customer" observing his behavior as I walk into the back room. He has his black backpack in front of him and he is unzipping it. I quickly return from the back room to see the perp sliding an Engineering book into his opened backpack. Another manager approaches the desk as I do and asks for an application for employment. I gladly tell her I can get one and walk to the back office. I scramble for a blank application and write on it in large red letter, "we got him, he slid the the book in the bag when I was walking out of the back." She thanks me for the application, and begins to walk up the stairs. She then passes the application discretely off to the manager at the top of the stairs who hangs up her cell that is dialed into the main desk and calls the cops.

After the cops are called we keep a close eye on him to make sure he doesn't catch on and bolt. As we are watching him he begins to make a run for it up the stairs. He thinks that I am a customer standing on the first landing and as he runs by I tackle him. Almost on cue the first wave of eventually 9 cops come running down the steps and take over.

The cops ask us questions and we explain why we were tracking this man. We write down our statements and check the cameras to see if we have any recorded visual confirmation. As we are doing this the police run his record and search him. During the search they discover 25 bags of heroin on him.

Score a drug bust for the bookstore, that is something I have never had! And like I said with stories like this I am sure it would be a bestseller!

For those of you who wonder if we practice the procedures for catching a shoplifter, the answer is no we don't we just have so many that we have got it down to a science.

And here is the kicker... Our hiring manager comes out of her office looking for her 10:45 interview, we ask who it was, and guess what, it was the name of the shoplifter/druggie!!!

God I love my job!