I take you back now to the summer after my junior year in college, I think, and I lived in New Jersey at my then-girlfriend, now-wife’s parents’ home.

Both Lauren and I had internships in New York City, and mine was working at the Judge Hatchet Show, a TV show in New York City, or broadcast in New York City, and my job was working at a local store at the Freehold Raceway Mall in Freehold, New Jersey.

I’ll get to the store in a few moments, but so yeah, the internship was cool.

Judge Hatchet was a show a lot like Judge Judy.

Initially, I was there strictly as the goferiest of gofers.

I was getting coffee orders, and I knew nothing about coffee at the time, but I was getting coffee orders and doing busy work, and then I got one executive producer of the show to realize that I was pretty smart-slash-talented, and he let me start writing, so I got to write the voiceover intros for the show.

So-and-so is suing so-and-so for these reasons, and that was fun.

Those shows are also very disheartening.

One of my jobs was to keep plaintiffs and defendants away from each other so that the sparks would fly on TV and not backstage, so we had to very carefully orchestrate taking them to their green rooms.

I was often sent in to basically to improv-slash-lie, but to talk to the folks in the green rooms, like potentially pretend I was another litigant in a later case so that I could try to get some deets from them that the judge could then ask them about.

And then the reason that anybody would agree to go on the show besides desire to be on TV was if you lost, the payment would be paid by the show and not by you.

So if you had to pay somebody $5,000, the show would pay the $5,000.

Great stuff.

But so I did that internship, and writing the voiceovers was awesome.

I enjoyed doing that, because you’d write stuff, and then they’d read it on the show, and then I was on many, many episodes of that show because they always needed me to sit in the galley, I guess?

I don’t know.

I was the audience of the show, basically, so you’d just be in shot after shot of that TV show.

Kind of funny.

But I also had a job, and apparently that job screwed up and didn’t pay me some of the money I was owed.

I know this because you probably, at least certainly in the States, I’m guessing it exists in other countries too, there’s this concept of funds that can’t be delivered.

So you’re owed money, and the people can’t find you.

So then it gets held, I guess, in escrow by the state.

I know I’ve claimed money from New Jersey a couple of times, and my mom had notified me that she believed that the state of Arizona owed me some money.

You can’t see what it is, you can just see that your name pops up when you search in their tool, and like, yeah, they owe you some money.

So I start filling out the forms online with Arizona, and weeks, maybe months go by, and then they email me, and they email me with the most annoying system.

It’s like, hey, this is a secure email system, so you have to go to this website to read the email we’re sending you, and unlock it using these things.

And unlocking, you have to prove that you’re you by answering those questions that credit checks use, whatever.

And then they’re like, we need proof that you ever lived at this address in Arizona.

I’m like, I didn’t really live there.

My parents moved there when I was in college.

But it was my permanent address for a time, even though I never really lived there.

So I’m trying to demonstrate to them that I live there, but I don’t have any paperwork, I don’t have any bills that say I, Lex, lived at this Tucson address.

So I’m going back and forth with them over a couple different days, and I finally convince them that I can demonstrate that my parents are who I say they are, and I can demonstrate that my parents live there.

And they say fine.

Actually, they never say fine, they just stop writing to me.

I even send a follow-up check and say, hey, did that paperwork suffice?

And they say nothing.

But then, in the mail, in the postal mail, I got a letter from Arizona, and I open it up.

And it’s like, here’s, I don’t know, $160 that you are owed from two different paychecks where you were underpaid by your employer.

That summer, before you had kids, before you were married, when you were still in college, working at the Freehold Raceway Mall at Build-A-Bear Workshop, where I worked.

Now, when I applied for Build-A-Bear Workshop, they saw I was in college, and they’re like, are you going to leave this at the end of the summer and go back to school?

And I’m like, no.

That wasn’t exactly true.

But, you know, you’re often counseled, I think, by smart people that companies, corporations, they’re going to do what they need, and you’ve got to do what you need.

I needed the job.

I told them that I was not definitely going back to school, which I guess was true.

A meteor could hit.

And that when I went back to school in Boston, if I did, that I’d gladly go transfer my skills to a Boston area Build-A-Bear Workshop.

I didn’t do that.

I most liked to work the stuffed animal stuffing machine, where you help people, you know, use the pedal and fill up their Build-A-Bears with the cottony, foamy stuff, whatever.

And then they also put the heart in.

And when they put the little heart in, one of my jobs was to embarrass people.

That’s what they encouraged me to do.

Like if it was a couple and somebody was buying the bear for the other person in the couple, you made that.

The buyer, the gifter, had to like do wishes and dance moves and whatever else with the heart before putting it in to really make it special.

Man, that was fun.

My least favorite thing was when I had to sew up the bear, because I was not good at that.

It’s supposed to have these little threads that you can pull on to tighten the bear, but they rarely would work.

And you’d have to go to actually, I don’t know, sewing them something.

And I could not do it.

I was taught to do it, but I could not do it.

I always had to hand it off to one of my, well, who I thought of as old lady coworkers.

They could have been 30 for all I know, but I had to hand it off to them because I could not do it.

But yeah, it was exciting to get lost wages from Build-A-Bear.

What will I spend that 160 something dollars on?

I don’t know.

But something frivolous.

I tell you.

Not a Build-A-Bear though.

I’m all set with Build-A-Bears.

I think there’s one in my office.


I have a Build-A-Bear elephant right here in my office.


Anyway, that’s my story.

Happy Monday.