Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My #$@! Co-Workers V: Sarcastro

I debated as to whether to include this guy or not. He and I have a complicated history, but in the end he did frustrate me on more than one occasion, as I'm sure I did him, so in he goes. I'm going to use this photo of Baby Huey, not to be insulting, but because that's what this one guy called him in defense of Sarcastro ragging on him. Plus, it's less insulting than a picture of Comic Shop Guy, who is older, bald, and unattractive. He did share his attitude, however.

Sarcastro was the guy that worked at the shop the second longest period of time. Sadly, I believe the longest belonged to me. Thor, I wish I could take that statistic back. Anyway, he started there in his early 20s. At the time, he quit his job doing something in construction where he supervised people, as he wore the standard husky-guy "short sleeve and tie Sipowicz" outfit.

He was pretty popular with a lot of the regulars. Indeed he should've, because for one, Sarcastro was very personable and had a great sense of humor, thus the alias "Sarcastro". He said a lot of things that were "LOL" as the kids say online, and not just comic-related stuff. He was funny all around. Some of my favorite "bits" of his was his reaction to the Stormwatch storyline "Change Or Die", to which he replied, "well, they gave 'em fair warning!" A joke in the same vein was when "Live Kree Or Die" came out and he said simply, "I'll live Kree". He also once had two Captain America toys dancing and started singing the Carpenters hit "We've Only Just Begun". I remember one time on his birthday a group of us saw some sort of IMAX ocean-related movie. When the store owner said it was gay, Sarcastro thoughtfully replied, "it was bisexual at best".

He also had quite possibly the best work ethic that I've ever seen. He was a consummate salesman and seemed to rise wherever he ended up. This guy would've killed as a salesman in the 1950s. For some reason, you don't really see a lot of salesmen nowadays. I blame the internet. I said salesman a lot.

After leaving the shop, he took a job at our local game and sports memorabilia distributor. Unfortunately, they started downsizing before downsizing was cool and he was let go. He later got a job as some sort of pager salesman (post 1996!) and I remember seeing him immediately go into a pitch at the drop of a hat with this guy in the store. My man wasted no time. Ultimately, he ended up at a bank, where he rose to the position of loan officer and ended up making more money than the store owner and possibly the store owner's wife, who always worked in banks.

It wasn't all wine and mint-condition Amazing Fantasy #15, however. Sarcastro could be insensitive at best and pretty much just mean at worst. With the exception of people he thought to be his peers and Chunk Jr, he could lay it on anybody and everybody, and I remember coming under his sights on more than one occasion. It tapered off the older I got and presumably the more respect he gained for me, not necessarily for doing anything but just for getting older, more mature and not really being in the target demo for zings and barbs. Looking back, I don't really feel any anger as I was in his presence when he would lay it on someone else and I realize it wasn't just me, per se.

I think a lot of the vitriol that erupted a lot of the time was just a general dissatisfaction with his life, a twentysomething malaise (as seen in Garden State) and the like. He was a young guy who dropped out of college. He lived at home and lost touch with old friends. It was hard to meet people (namely, women) at the shop. Once on a ride back home he was explaining to my future roommate and myself how it was hard to hang out with various people: this guy had a drinking problem, these guys were married, and my future roommate and I were too young to do some stuff. (At ease, we were in our mid-teens, this isn't the King Of Pop here). So for a good amount of time he probably felt pretty lonely, at least in the existential sense. His situation was probably a lot like the character of Scott Forbes in the criminally overlooked comic The Waiting Place. Do yourself a favor and track these down, then bug Sean McKeever over and over until he makes more of them.

The longer I worked at the store the more I could see why Sarcastro was the way he was. It does something to you, particularly if you're just drifting along. The filmmaker never went through this because while he was employed I think everyone understood it was a temporary situation and he was on the next train out to Anywhereelse as soon as it came by. He was too smart for the shop.

Sarcastro ended up meeting a nice Christian girl in her early 20s who ended up indirectly instigating a life change for him. He traded in his Jeep for a woman's car (according to everyone who saw it), got a new job, started going to church (which was hilarious to those of us who heard him talk about DC Talk and Jars Of Clay, and how just because something is Christian doesn't make it good) and he ended up proposing to her after just a year or two of dating. My roommate, the filmmaker and I ended up going to his wedding. His wife had a kid and last I heard he has twins on the way. He actually emailed me this year and asked if I was on Facebook, and how all the guys had joined. I thought the question silly as even though I'm still in my 20s with some time to go before I head into my 30s I feel slightly older than the typical Facebook demographic, let alone a bunch of guys barrelling towards 40. Needless to say, I did not reply nor seek out friend requests as that's the last thing my psyche needs is to relive the worst years of my life.

He did go through a really rough period, oddly enough after he met his then-girlfriend now-wife. He demanded the filmmaker bring back his Dreamcast that he had left in the shop for a while, which the filmmaker borrowed just to play around with, as it was doing nothing but gather dust. He snapped at me and the owner, who suspected he wanted it back in order to trade in for a better system, something somewhat insulting as the owner had given it to him for a birthday or holiday present. Luckily I think regular sex calmed him down or something.

Overall, though, Sarcastro was a pretty good guy. Certainly ended up being better than the store owner, which would have shocked me then but seems inevitable now. We went to Monday Night Raw, saw some movies, had some bad Italian, laughed at the nerds at the local conventions, and told some jokes. He's a different guy now than when he was angry and 24, and wherever he is, I doff my cap at you, sir.

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