In The Toy Box: My Toys"R"Us Journey Begins

"Try retail. They never lay you off," said a very good friend of mine whose perspective I respected since he was going to be a millionaire by the time he was thirty-five. So began my more-than-thirty-year journey of fun and frolic in the service to mankind--and mankind does so want to be serviced.

I said goodbye to an "eight thirty to five with an hour for lunch" corporate life and hello to the employment ad titled "Major Retailer." I was bright. I was energetic. I was dependable. I was individual enough to succeed. I embodied all the skills and personal traits required for the job. I wrote my cover letter, singing my praises just enough without coming off as a braggart. I listed all my corporate accomplishments. I felt that eventually I could regain a future in the corporate world, but by nature, I wasn't really a desk person. I need to move and be physical.

On the same day, three weeks after mailing my resume to the major retailer, I heard two sets of fate-filled words: "We will have your last check ready in two weeks" (from my New Jersey Unemployment contact) and "Salvatore? Hi, I'm Joe Cortez. You answered an ad in The Star-Ledger for a training program. I'd like you to come in so we can explore your options.

"My Unemployment appointment was at 9:00 a.m., and the other words were uttered at 8:00 p.m. That 8:00 p.m. phone call should have given me a hint of the amount of hours required that were in store for me ("in store"), but I had never worked in retail. The truth was, at this point in my career, I didn't have a future in the corporate world. I hadn't for the past six months. And now, since my unemployment was about to run out, I made the appointment.

The "major retailer," I discovered, was Toys"R"Us. Joe said I had a future. He was correct. My association with TRU lasted more than twenty-five years, and it has now made me a published author as well.

I hope you enjoy In the Toy Box, this first part of my Toys"R"Us journey.

--Sal Panicci

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