We live for just these 20 years, Do we have to die for the 50 more?

29th July 1996. That was the day I started the part time job I had always wanted in a record shop. And today, exactly 20 years later, I’m still doing the same job. Half my life. 

Highs & lows. Peaks & troughs. I’ve never really ever been close to leaving. Partly, I like my job (most of the time), I like knowing what I’m doing, knowing the ins & outs, I like the trust & independence I’ve built up, etc. And partly institutionalised – what the hell else would I do? Sell shoes?! 

I’ve never felt particularly strongly about “the brand”. Sure I’ll get defensive about the company I work for when outsiders have a dig. I’m easily riled by criticism of it but it doesn’t come from a place of defending the corporate entity, it’s about the people, it’s always been about the people. So many great like-minded people who just about all arrived in the job because of their pashernate love of music & films. The people who work here now & the people I’ve worked with in the past. The real, true friends I’ve made, the few I’ve loved & the many I just think the world of. You spend so long working for a company & knowing people for so long that it naturally encompasses all of life. Births, deaths & marriages with everything in between shared with people that some unthinking automatons would have you describe as “colleagues”. They’ve always been so much more than that. 

I’ve made some enemies too. There are people I’ve hated & plenty that have hated me too, a couple of whom would have relieved me of my duties if they could have. I don’t apologise for feeling a sense of satisfaction that I’m still here, they are all long gone. Never underestimate how stubborn I can be.

I was a daft kid when I started, I grew up in this job. I remember looking up to a few of my “colleagues” in those early years working in Glasgow. I wanted to be like them, to be as cool as them. Just a few of them though, most of them were dicks. I never managed to be cool but I certainly matured. My attitude, my worldview, my drive, my ethics – all of them I’m sure would have been markedly different had I worked in an office or a factory or a call centre or wherever. 

Of course I loved music & films before I started working here but the amount of amazing things I wouldn’t have heard or seen had I not been in this job is unimaginable & my life would have been poorer for that. 

I still get that special kick when a new record I’ve been excited about arrives in store like the next Bowie box set coming in September. I still love when a new song catches my attention in the shop & makes me want to listen to the rest of the album. I still love when a customer heeds my recommendation & buys the Boardwalk Empire or The West Wing box sets. I still love going through the Bowie or the Dylan CD sections just to make sure every album is there & in its right place (alphabetically). 

So 20 years, it’s given me everything I suppose. I have a habit of reflecting negatively in moments like this but I’ve just had my 40th birthday so I’m a bit worn out therefore I’m choosing only to reflect positively today. I’m grateful for the best memories. I’m grateful for the best people. 

Thank you to those who were there. Thank you to those that are still around. 

I genuinely feel very proud to have made it to 20 years. I still love my shop doing well, I still love getting good results. 

11 months into working for this mob I was given the opportunity to move from a part time to a full time contract which involved moving to another Glasgow store. On my final day in my first store, Argyle St, my assistant manager, Andy, offered these words with that uniquely Glaswegian half threatening/half inspiring tone, “You better be good!”  

I hope I did alright. Fair to middling I’d say. 20 years later I think we’re the only 2 from that staff of 30-40 that are still with the company. And I still want to be good for the big man. 


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