Bert came onto my stage in the shoe department of one of Moody Street's upscale department stores when I was an aspiring -ass hole. I had been selling 'shoes' out of the place for two years during high school days. Anyway, he looked like he just stepped out of the doll-house, perfect countenance. He was in from the home office. One of their rising stars. I did not know it at that time, but Bert was looking for me; he needed to mentor the employees from my shoe department, meaning me. What an education! Bert would walk around the department store learning the names off those who worked in different departments. He took me along for the ride. I was just the guy from the shoe department; i had no power, valueless, but they started looking at me differently, like I was a somebody in the shoe department. Bert was grooming me for the Boston office. Pure, like a miracle. Emulating Bert was like being the "orgasm" of many dreams. For example, Bert set it up so that I would be the fill-in department store manager for all of the stores in Bert's sector. So when the regular shoe department manager went on their summer vacation, I would open and close their shoe department; this took me to all parts of the state, each week a new set of shoes to sell to a different segment of the states' population. I did the shoe department's inventory, made adjustments and cleaned up the mis-shelved shoes. I was learning how to recognize the differences between the different sections of the state. This was how I learned to run a distribution. To prove my point, when drafted into the military, I was assigned to be the distributor for one of the distributions points in the Middle East, 1964/65. Bert filled me with promise; I'm so grateful. But! Not everyone saw Bert as I did. The old guy in the men's department of the department store believed that Bert was just too good to be a "guy." Therefore Bert was gay. Anyway, Bert took me into the men's department; he was buying a sweater and wanted to know my take on it. We are talking top of the line; he wants my opinion; my feet are off the ground; I'm flouting. The old man gives me a wink. That was the first sweater I ever stole; because the old man is the first one out the door at closing; that's when I went into the men's department, picked up a sweater like the one Bert bought, put it in a bag and walked it into the shoe department, leaving it there over night. Now. Bert wore the sweater he bought each day he was there, as one might wear a smock while working. When Bert left, I put on my sweater; the one that I swiped from the men's department -the old guy in the men's department started looking at me in a funny sort of way, like he new what my "secret" was all about. All I can say is, knowing Bert was like being processed through a 'finishing school,' a prep-school's socialization. Now! I also worked across the street from the department store when I was younger. I worked on all three corners doing different things in each of those businesses. That's for another time.