Red Scare at Bevmo


Down the street there is a place where they are stocking beer and wine on shelves, checking people out, entering telephone numbers and emails into the database, loading boxes off trucks, unpacking and unloading shipments of spirits, and other liquors.

(Sounds like entry-level work except this company is as competitive and selective as Yale University)

They wear red jackets and they pass out red cards to customers and when you come here on some afternoons there is an extremely loud and jovial fat man making jokes and entertaining himself at the register, thrilled at his own wit and eager to laugh it up for everyone.

(Seems crass but the crowds love him)

A few times a year the wine goes on sale and you can buy two bottles for the price of one plus five cents.

On Fridays it gets crazy here when the customers who shop here get off work. They pour in like madmen and run like hell to get to the cold beer and warm tequila.

I had once worked in retail and I vowed to not work in it again. That was at Ralph Lauren in New York, at the flagship store, back in the early 90s, where I waited on such nobodies as Tom Selleck, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Onassis and Elizabeth Montgomery, four of the five of whom are now dead, but hardly forgotten.

Ralph Lauren and his brother Jerry would come in and chat me up and ask me about business. Mrs. Auchincloss, Mrs. Scribner, Mrs. Radziwill, Mr. Bernie Madoff, Ms. Michelle Klier, all my billionaires, all my customers, all were satisfied.

I’m not bragging. Just telling it the way it was.

So now I live in Van Nuys. I’m not young. I think I can work in a big box beverage store, so I fill out the 30-minute online job application.

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Bevmo3

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And there is one, big, fat, irritating part where they ask you multiple choice questions and ask you to check each one such as:

When I work I:
1. talk cheerfully to people I meet
2. speak to people in a direct and candid manner

Don’t both seem admirable? Isn’t cheerfulness as important as candor?

Which attitude best describes you at work:
1. positive
2. careful

If a customer comes in and asks me a question about wine I will try to be positive, but I sure will be careful when loading glass bottles of beer.

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Bevmo8 Assess

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These are just a few of the hundred multiple-choice questions that are used by Bevmo to separate the wheat from the chaff or perhaps the wheat from the hops. The application is tedious and time-consuming.

Days later, I call Olivia, the Van Nuys Bevmo Store Manager to ask her if she has received my online application.

“Hmm…what’s your last name? Ok. Here it is. Oh I’m sorry. You are a RED. I’m not allowed to proceed to interview you. YELLOWS and GREENS are good. You can take it again if you like. Looks like you did not pass the multiple choice assessment questions.”

She offers no explanation.

I have merely been defeated by a color, stopped by stoplight as unknowable as God herself.

Bevmo, Bevmo, Bevmo…..

You are continuing Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red baiting. Only now the reds are applying for work.

And they won’t get hired until they turn green.

2 thoughts on “Red Scare at Bevmo

  1. Andy,
    I have been reading you for about three years now. I’m a little older than you, but I worked for Vons in my younger years. Your comments about retail struck a bitter chord with me. I, too, hope never to work in retail again. I still have the occasional nightmare about returning. I am a paralegal for many years now, and I can’t imagine ever returning to a counter and a cash register. I think Bevmo did you a favor with the red light. Good luck to you. I enjoy reading your stories about the valley I have lived in for almost 40 years.

    Like

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