Ten years ago today, August 20th, 2006, was my last day with EB Games.
I could have told you without looking when my first day was — June 30, 1999 — but not the last. It wasn’t burned into my memory in the same way. I knew it was coming up, maybe it was even past, and yesteday morning before work I looked through my email archives and discovered that the anniversary was today. (Yesterday was a different anniversary; it was the anniversary for the going-away party for myself and two other Raleigh-area managers.) Endings are like that, especially in real life instead of fiction, because life, unlike a book, keeps on going.
I remember that my last day was a low-key affair. It was a Sunday. One of my last customers of the day was a former EB Games manager from Georgia. He’d left the company for health problems, and somehow he ended up in the Triangle. He bought something, I don’t remember what, and he said, “You’re doing things the old school way, not the GameStop way. It’s refreshing.” When I told him it was my last day, he said that was his luck; he’d finally found an EB Games he could shop at, and now that manager was leaving. At the end of the day I packed up my coffee pot and the EB Games training manuals (I was supposed to have thrown them away months earlier, but I’d kept them at the store for nostalgic reasons), locked up, and it was over. All that was left was to turn in my keys the next day.
When I look back on my time with EB Games, my memories are happy one, even in the final six months, the period after the GameStop buyout. I had wonderful customers, I had great employees, I had fantastic colleagues.
Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can “see” my store in Raleigh. I can walk through it. I can open the cabinets and run my fingers across the spines of the PS2 and XBox games. I can pick up cases on the shelves. I can feel the cashwrap, its strange metal top, and the place worn smooth my the main register. And I can even feel the crumbly press board underneath the cashwrap there.
There are things about EB that I miss. I miss the people. I miss the camaraderie. I miss feeling like a resource, and I miss the feeling of independence I had as a manager.
But, I don’t miss EB. In many ways, the company I left was no longer EB Games, and it hadn’t been for a long time. The name above my door read “EB Games,” but it was a GameStop, and a GameStop was a very different thing.
For a long period of my adulthood, my identity was EB Games Manager. Now my identity is Writer. In truth, that’s a better identity.
And my, have I written…