So, I worked in retail for the better part of fifteen years before being called to ministry. Ten years ago I hired two kids right out of high school. Yesterday they married each other. They asked me to speak on their love and our history at the store.
I was the manager of CD & Tape Outlet for twelve years. I managed two generations of kids at CD & Tape Outlet. Shanti and Jason were in the second generation of those kids. If you are unfamiliar with the store it was like family. Both the employees and the customers were family. Fred, Mitch, Kushon, Ben, Jason, Gina, and Shanti were the most consistent crew I ever had. And customers were so close to us that is why you see Ira here today. When I finally left the store I had six employees who had been there four years or longer. And for a minimum wage paying retail job that says a lot. It says family. We razzed each other, we loved each other, we prayed for each other, we gave up every Christmas Eve with family to work with this CD & Tape Outlet family. On Christmas Eve we’d all dress up and work the madness of those who wait until the last minute to do their shopping. It was exhausting. One year Kushon had a conflict with a customer and she later returned with her husband. At that moment we heard the loudest boom you could ever imagine. We honestly thought Kushon had been shot and believe me Jason hit the deck face first faster than anything you could ever imagine. It turns out a lady had lost control of her car and ran her car through a wall of the store. A store packed full of people and no one hurt. Except Jason’s pride as he lay on the floor.
Honestly many of our days were defined by where we would we eat. Bexley Pizza Plus, Waffle House, Roosters, Chipotle, Tumbleweed. None of us really enjoyed fast food and sometimes it would take us hours to decide. Some days we would send Ira down to Johnson’s to get us food and it would take hours to get it.
If you weren’t aware Jason is pretty funny. So, working with Jason never failed to be entertaining. It is a shame how many stories have left me. I can remember Jason always faced conflict with humor. One time we had a guy who was unhappy with the CD he bought and since it was already open it was un-returnable and he was furious. He proceeded to tell Jason that the policy was stupid and with steam coming out of his ears Jason said “you are right the rule is stupid” and just gave the guy that Jason grin. And then the guy said I could just steal the CD and Jason said “you are right you could” Then the guy proceeded to go outside drop the CD on the ground and stomp on it like a little kid.
Shanti was the smart one of us all. She could debate any subject. And we debated sports, politics, music, etc. I don’t think I ever won a debate with Shanti, she was very persuasive. I do have to confess that Shanti is the only woman who fainted in my arms. Having given blood one day she came to work without eating. As her eyes swirled to the back of her head she fell into my arms. And I tell you Shanti don’t weigh much but dead weight is heavy!
Shanti and Jason were always great to work with. And we were all interested in similar things. Music, food, and sports. We suffered the John Cooper era working on Saturdays and taking the taunting from Michigan customers and Mitch. Funny, those customers never came in when the Buckeyes won. The blessing of Shanti and Jason was their work ethic and dependability. I really can’t tell you a day they called off in five years of working with them. They, as did most of our crew, understood their role and went above and beyond to accomplish it. Selling vinyl, promoting jazz artists and shows, pushing music. There is nothing more comforting that having faithful and trustworthy workers.
I am not certain when the sparks started to fly. But, I can say I was not convinced it was anything more than a passing whim. Believe me, in twelve years at the store I saw the love affairs begin and end several times so this was one of those things. Or so, I thought. And years later we stand here celebrating their everlasting love for each other. So, let us make sure we celebrate that tonight. Love. Commitment.
Shanti. Jason. I pray you love each other for all your living days as you do today. I pray you put your work ethic into your marriage. If you do that, it will soar. And all those around you will be blessed by it. And I would be amiss if I did not petition you to put God Almighty at the center of your union. As long as you are dependent on Him it will sustain any hard times you will face.