this is a story written by a friend of mine about last year's holiday madness. so if the last 8 days of xmas are stressing you out, take a moment to sit down and laugh a little at the misfortunes of us retail workers.
uncle jason's holiday rant
To begin, an introduction.
My name is Jason and I work at the mall. I freely admit it, without being forced or without shame. (Alright, a little shame. It is the mall, after all.) I work at a store which shall go unmentioned, due to my not having the company’s permission and all that legal mumbo-jumbo. But everyone who’s reading this knows where I work, so there you go. I am just a shade over 6 ft and I weigh in at a hefty 265lbs. I wear mostly black shirts, adorned with either comic book art, a band or mustard (if I have a burger. You understand.). I am an assistant manager at this business and I manage the store with 2 co-workers, Tovah (store manager) & Donnie (assistant manager). That is their names as of now, as I have not gotten permission from either of them, as of yet. If they do not give me their permission, I will simply change their names from Tovah to Buffy and Donnie to Skittles. I’m kinda hoping that they don’t gimme permission. It’d be fun to write about the adventures of Uncle Jason & his sidekicks, Buffy and Skittles. Eh, maybe not.
Tovah is the store manager and she’s tall and slender and she eats whatever she wants. I secretly hate her and think hateful things about her when she doesn’t look at me. But when she does look in my direction, it’s all smiles and “How are you? Can I help?” Skinny people who eat whatever they want REALLY piss me off. Anyway, she is smart, capable and dresses like a model. She loves garage sales, yard sales, goodwill, and old things. In other words, she likes junk. Her house looks like a huge, organized version of Fred Sandford’s VAST EMPIRE. Very odd.
Donnie is skinny, also. But he doesn’t eat, so that’s okay. He says he is a fan of only quality, good movies that are smart, well-acted and well-made, but he is a huge fan of Star Wars, so I don’t know what to think. Anyway, the only thing he eats is Movie Food (Y’know, Goobers, Gummy Bears, SKITTLES, etc) and he has a large collection of movie tickets. He keeps the tickets of every movie that he sees. I have the sneaking suspicion that if there is ever a fire at his apartment, he will run in past the other tenants and push down small children to get to his beloved scrapbook of movie-tickets. All is irrelevant, you understand. Very odd.
And then there is me, who is fat.
I am not going to bore you with the descriptions of the staff that we have, due to three reasons.
A) Too lengthy
B) Legal problems
C) Too boring
Now, don’t take me wrong. Not all of them are boring, but the ones who are? Whew!! I get drowsy just thinking about them. As the locals around here would say, “Purty dull.” And I would agree. Yes, indeed, they are “purty dull”. If there are any stories concerning them, I will make up a name for them and explain the situation in such a dry tone that no one would be offended by anything I would write. Hah, only kidding!! I’ll change just enough of the situation to keep me out of trouble & keep them looking goofy. I can’t have myself looking goofy, you know what I’m saying? I am the protagonist of this story. Or antagonist. Christ, the one day you don’t pay attention in english class and it comes right back and bites you on the ass. Anyhoo, on to an explanation of our situation.
The X-mas time is the craziest, busiest, shoppin’est time of year for us and each year we prepare for this very carefully. We actually prepare a “battle plan” on how to best tackle the crowds. I’m not going to bore you with details, but the time that we are talking about are for November and December. Talking to Tovah and Donnie about it, I get the feeling of soldiers in Vietnam who’re discussing their remaining time in the jungle. Look at the sentences below and guess if they’re from us or the military.
1) We need a map of this area.
2) There’s movement near the front.
3) Go get my gun.
4) Help that customer get a Care Bear shirt down.
5) I hate the French.
Hard, isn’t it? I couldn’t figure out which ones were mine or theirs. Heh, that’s good stuff.
So, you have an overview of the situation, an introduction to the main characters & an insult to the French (I hate em’. No good cheese eatin’ surrender-monkeys…) so everything you need to enjoy, er, read this is in order.
Now, for the non-informed, Christmas is a special time of year. One to be cherished and loved with friends and family. For others, it is a celebration of the birth of their favorite savior, ol’ J.C. himself. Regardless of faith, creed, or color, there is a general consensus that the world, if only for a month, is a nicer, more special place.
Now, for those who work retail, we know that this is total and utter bullshit. The world is NOT like your favorite Christmas movie, unless that movie is, say, Gremlins or Die Hard. Not only do you have to deal with YOUR relatives coming in & ruining your life, not only do you have to deal with the crowds and the fat woman and her kids at the local Wal-Mart, no, you also get to DEAL WITH MEAN, BITCHY CUSTOMERS WHO DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT YOU. These people not only will knock you down to get the last “Dukes of Hazzard” belt buckle, but they’ll step over your still warm body to get to the “Uncle Jesse” matching suspenders. Sad, really.
You see, the general public as a whole are totally misrepresented by the media. These newscasters show a little 1-minute clip of crowds at the mall and they look pleasant enough. They’re smiling, acting polite, handing things to one another, helping out their fellow man.
Lies. All lies.
The general public, as a whole, ARE nice. And polite. And kind.
Just Not during the month of Christmas. Ironic, no?
I’ve heard more threats during the “Season of Giving” than I can count. And the hateful looks? I still get shivers when I think about the time I told a grandma that we didn’t have a 4X Batman shirt. Jesus, what kind of mean-pills do those old people EAT? Old bat. Hope she’s still not around.
Now, if you work at the mall or in retail, you already know about all of this. I just wanted to lay the groundwork for the enemy. As a whole, the best way to describe them would be to combine the zombies from “Dawn of the Dead”, give them all the drugs from the movie “Blow”, and have them date the vampires from “Blade”. The kids that they would have? You guessed it.
Now, if you, the reader, are thinking that I don’t like the general public, well, you are right. None of us in retail do. We used to, but then we go through our first Christmas at the mall and we’re scarred for life. We do not look forward to the month of December. We look forward to January, our month of rest. Ah, January, you seem so far away…
That is a brief synopsis of the enemy. Memorize it & remember it well. You need to know them, for they are YOU.
Now that you have a brief description of us and a brief description of the enemy, you are about to be shown a little insight to the workings of a retail store. The company where I work has a store meeting to discuss the upcoming holiday season. Now, before you start to think that I’m letting some big secret out of the bag, just remember: EVERY STORE IN THE FREE WORLD DOES THIS, so don’t think that you’re being let in on something special, ‘kay? Our business is lucky, in the respect that there is another of our sister-stores less than 1 hour away (or 30 minutes away the way Donnie drives) so we were able to co-ordinate a staff-meeting with their management staff. Since I can’t be bothered to use their real names either (see part one for details), I will simply make up nicknames for everybody at this meeting & describe the action. Remember, there are 3 managers on our staff and three managers on their staff.
Rachel is the store manager from the Huntington store and she did give me permission to use her name. I didn’t tell her that I was going to use her name regardless, due to the fact that there are, like, 17 Rachels working in the Huntington mall, anyway. Seriously. Go to the Huntington Mall & yell “Rachel!” I’m telling you, half of the damn mall will turn around. Creepy. Anyhoo, she’s very short & very professional & she’ll stick a baseball bat up your *CENSORED* if you get on her nerves. Be afraid.
Mrs. Corey is the nickname that I’ve chosen for this individual. She is SLIGHTLY a fan of the Coreys. You know…the kids from those horrible 80’s films that you’ve tried to get out of your head for the last 15 or so years. Yup, Corey Feldman & Corey Haim. The only thing that gives me ANY satisfaction about the Coreys is that their lives are now totally messed up. Yessiree, the 2000’s haven’t been so good to them. They are disrespected. They are unloved. They are pathetic. They are richer than me.
Moving on, we now come to The Crow. This is an individual who I truly envy, as he has more bad movies than anyone (and I mean ANYONE) I know. His place is a verifiable B-actor's wet dream. All the Toxic Avengers. All the Hellraisers. All the Basket Cases. All of the Living Deads. If it’s bad horror and it’s on film, it’s at his house, just waiting to be watched. Someday I will have a collection like his. Not now, but someday…
We decided that the Managers' meeting should take place in an area where we could be as loud as we wanted to be and could curse up a storm without anyone caring.
So the next thing I know, we’re sitting at a booth in Bob Evans. Before you write about why I didn’t change the name of Bob Evans, know this. I called up Mister Evans himself and got permission to use it. That’s not true, of course, but I just couldn’t think of something witty to change it to off the top of my head. You understand, don’t you? Anyway, when they make this into a super-Hollywood-sized screenplay, I’m sure that Bob Evans wouldn’t mind us shooting this particular scene in their fine establishment, drinking ice cold, refreshing Coca-Cola’s ™ while eating a big piece of NutraSweet-flavored pie! Ah, product-placement, I love you!
(And on a personal note, if any of you in Hollywood do decide to make this into a movie, I want to talk about my personal convictions. I have none. If you want me to change a chapter of my story to make you happy, I’m here for you!! Don’t get me wrong, I believe in artistic integrity, but, hey, it don’t pay the bills, you know what I’m saying? I think that this story can stand just fine on its own. But if you want to add a talking car, a ninja, a wise-cracking robot, a gay neighbor, a dog and a little black kid that I have to fight to adopt, well, let’s just say that I’m open.)
Me and Buffy enter fashionably late, as Skittles, The Crow, Mrs. Corey and Rachel are patiently waiting for us to arrive. We sit down and shoot the breeze (that means “talk”) for a few seconds before THE FIRST FUNNY THING OF THE NIGHT happens. Our waitress arrives.
Waitress no. 1: How are you all doing, tonight?
Group: (Assorted Mumbling)
Waitress no. 1: What can I get for y’all to drink?
Skittles: Coffee, with 10 packs of sugar.
Waitress no. 1: Ten?
Rachel: Water for me.
Mrs. Corey: Water.
The Crow: Coffee.
Uncle Jason: Sprite, & bring me a refill now.
Waitress no. 1: Huh?
Uncle Jason: Just keep bringing me refills. When you bring the Sprite, just bring a refill the next time you come to the table.
Waitress no. 1: Uh, okay. Anything else.
Skittles: Ten sugars.
Waitress no. 1: Let me see if I have this straight. Sprite...
Uncle Jason: A lot of them.
Waitress no. 1: …2 waters, 2 coffees…
Skittles: (raising his eyebrows)
Waitress no. 1: …with ten sugars…
Skittles: (looking content)
Waitress no. 1: …and a Coke. I’ll be right back.
Uncle Jason: (Yelling at the leaving waitress) Refills! Remember!
Well, the meeting then took place. I won’t bore you with details, due to the fact that I really don’t remember a lot of it. I do remember an elderly family sitting in the booth right next to us. I also remember the people in that booth looking over at us every time Rachel dropped the “F” bomb. They’d look over at us and I’d just smile and wave at them, as if nothing had happened. I felt kind of bad about disturbing their meal, but, hell, they’re old and gonna die soon, so what’s the damage, eh? The meeting lasted a couple of hours and nothing really notable happened for the rest of the night. We wrapped it up and went outside. This is the actual conversation.
Rachel: I gotta get home. I need sleep for tomorrow.
Mrs. Corey: I have to get some staff reviews done.
Skittles: Yeah, I need to get home soon.
Uncle Jason: Hey, is that a bar over there?
Buffy: I need to go to sleep, too. Big day, tomorrow.
Uncle Jason (to The Crow): Is that a bar, over there?
The Crow: Yeah.
Rachel: So, everyone learn something tonight?
Uncle Jason: Hot damn! That is a bar!! Who’s with me?
The six of us went into that bar, and we got into the shit-kickin’-est bar-fight that you’ve ever seen. Buffy drank herself under the table, Mrs. Corey won $2000.00 in a poker game, Skittles stabbed a man with a broken pool cue, Rachel stole a car, The Crow set the bar on fire and me? I sat in my car and read my Bible. It’s the good book, you know.
Ah, just kidding. We all went our separate ways. Individually, we’re kind of dull, but TOGETHER…we’re still kind of dull. But we like it that way. We do, dammit.
We all got in our cars & drove to our homes & thought about the upcoming month.
...Christmas is coming. Good God almighty, Christmas is coming.
So we watched. And waited. And planned. We are prepared. Each store’s staff is well trained. There is nothing that can happen that hasn’t happened before. We six people are ready for anything that anybody can throw at us.
So, where were we? Explained the situation. Check. Introduced the main players. Check. Had the management meeting. Check. Got rid of the bodies. Check. By Crikey, I think that we’re ready to move on!
Our next step in the preparation for war is our Holiday Store Meeting (as mentioned earlier. Don’t you remember anything, retard?) and this is always a fun event. It’s a recipe for wackiness and revelry and, gosh-durnit, just plain hi-jinks. Oh, the fun times we’ve had! At past meetings, we’ve had such things happen as…
Yeah, as a whole, they’re pretty dull. Me, Tovah and Donnie threw around several ideas to liven up the meetings.
1) More interaction between part-timers & the management
2) More role-playing scenarios discussing difficult customers & how to handle them
Yeah, guess which idea was mine, kids. That’s right. Anyhoo, the day of the meeting came and the staff gathered at our store. The day: Sunday. The time: 6:30 pm. The place: The Store (as mentioned earlier. Don’t you remember anything, retard?) Now, I’m not going to give the staff funny nicknames like I did with the management staff. For one thing, there would be too many legal problems. Plus, I don’t really quite remember all of their names very well, yet. I know that I should, but oh well…
The part-timers sat on the hard, cement store, waiting for their empty brains to be filled with knowledge, their minds just empty sponges waiting to be filled with the sudsy, soapy residue that is our business. And so we started.
I can’t go into any details surrounding the actual information bandied around at our store meeting. But I can tell you that I was very happy with the way the staff ACTUALLY PAID ATTENTION and even ANSWERED QUESTIONS THAT WE ASKED THEM. All in all, it was a good meeting. Information was given. Feedback was listened to. And only one employee fell asleep, for which I severely beat him, afterward. Ah, good times…
I then thought to myself how Rachel’s meeting up in Huntington was going.
Scenario: All of the part timers are throwing Moltov Cocktails at the cash-wrap & chanting “Death to the management!!”. Rachel & Mrs. Corey are making a valiant, last stand while The Crow is slowly making his way up to the overhead pipes. The part timers are all circling the cash-wrap, in some sort of tribal dance. Rachel starts to cast a spell while The Crow gets out of the store to the roof. He runs full speed while Rachel finishes her incantation.
“Sabra condatee’ Astori Amosi Salo Ser!”
The spell finished, a blue flame erupts & all of the part timers & Rachel & Mrs. Corey are turned instantly to grey ash. Only the Crow escaped, and of him, nobody knows. But they say, when the moon is full and the night is cold, that you can see The Crow running around on the roof at the Huntington Mall, yelling “Astori Amosi Salo Ser!!”
I’m sure their meeting went fine.
After the meeting was over, almost everyone in our staff went to see a movie. Now, Punch Drunk Love is a very good movie, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The staff either totally loved it or they totally hated it. Must be art, I thought to myself at the time. Now, the movie didn’t have any dinosaurs or kung-fu or ANY nekkid ladies a runnin’ around, but even with all of those faults, I still liked it. I mean, it wasn’t RoadHouse or Friday the 13th part eleventeeny-something, but it was pretty good. Could’ve used a killer cyborg-robot, though.
All in all, the part-timers took the news of impending doom quite well. The management staff explained that we were going to be behaving a little differently during the Hollidays. Tovah was going to be stricter. Donnie was going to be stricter. Jason was going to be…well…Jason. And the main message that we gave them?
“The crowds and customers and the roaring masses are there for us to milk. We need to get all of their money and have them come back, begging for us to take more of it. They are legion but we are strong. This is what we trained you for. We know that you can do it.”
Now, for those of you who know about the Charleston Town Center, go ahead and skip over the next few paragraphs. They're boring and quite lengthy and really don't add too much to the overall story. Do keep in mind that this description is of the Town Center for November & December only. For the rest of the year, it looks "normal". Well, as normal as a 3-story retail Auschwitz would look.
The Charleston Town Center a'la Christmas is truly a sight to behold. It's only SLIGHTLY reminiscient of the mall that they used in "Dawn of the Dead". Each floor is lovingly lit with about four or five 20 watt bulbs. The color scheme is easily compared to a prison lunch-room and, oh yeah, it's got balls. Big ones. In the center area. There are about 10 Giant Christmas balls (the smallest by which you could fit 3 hitchikers) and they're supported by steel-wire holiday "ribbon". That's right. The Charleston Town Center has big balls. He's got big balls. She's got big balls. But we've got the...
Er, sorry. Got stuck in my head.
Anyhoo, the Mall of Christmas Damned is haunted by several spectres who I will describe but not name, due to blah, blah, blah... They are as follows.
The Rings: Before you enter the mall, you will hear...the Rings. That's right, if there's one thing that I can't stand, it's these sunsabitches from the Salvation Navy, ringing their goddamned muthaf**kin' bells everytime I enter. And it's always when I have a headache. Don't get me wrong, I like to help the less-fortunate, but when I'm late or in a hurry, I don't care if the Bell-Ringer or whoever they're a ringin' it for dies right in front of me. I'm stepping over them to get to work. And take notice of this; when you don't give them any money, they ring that muthaf**king bell all that much louder. I'm planning right now to stand behind one of em', and everytime someone puts some change in their bucket, I'm gonna blast them in the ear with an Airhorn. Ding ding ding BBBRRREEEEPPP!!! Let's see how you like it, you dumb sacks of shit.
ANNOYANCE LEVEL: MEDIUM These ones pack quite a wallop, but you only hear them if you want to ENTER OR LEAVE THE MALL.
Mikael Petals: This misshapen mass of humanity wanders the halls looking for victims to talk to. You can tell he is coming from a mile away, due to his neon red hunting hat & his toxic odor. He speaks with a speach-impediment of doom and he's only interested in two things; (1) talking to you when you are about to eat and (2) women's shoes. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
ANNOYANCE LEVEL: MEDIUM He reminds you of Gollum from "Lord of the Rings" (You know, "My prescious...sssss...) but he's mostly harmless. Just smack him on the nose with a newspaper or a hammer to send him on his way.
The Menace of Sir Dennis: The king of mall security. The only people who happen to feel secure are the droves of druggies and shoplifters who pilfer the mall at random while The Lord of the Bored is around. Armed with the powers of "ignoring you" and "running away", his most impressive feature is his "I don't care" look. Impassive, sarcastic, non-caring and abbrasive. All the things that you look for in a good security guard.
ANNOYANCE LEVEL: HIGH Oh, would it have been anything else? I've never liked this dirty little *CENSORED* since the moment that I met him. The best way to describe him? Take a snail. Get the slimiest, shiniest slickest one that you can find. Have it crawl on your porch. Step on it. Scrape what's left on the welcome mat. Throw some salt on it. Have your neighbors cat eat it. Make it vomit on some dog crap. And what's left? That's right. Worthless. Just worthless.
The Spirits of Cleanings Past:
Listen close and I'll tell you a tale.
One brought back on the long road to Hell.
There are demons abound and monsters in sight,
but none are like these men of night.
They only appear after the lights have gone down.
They all look the same and they don't make a sound.
They wear dirty white shirts with a hint of green.
They all have mustaches. They all are not clean.
They ride machines of cleansing that they glide through the mall.
All of them are short (no, wait, one is tall)
They have no hands, to the machines they're connected.
They all have dead eyes, and I'm sure they're infected.
They work in the night with their heart's full of rage,
and still they work now, for minimum wage.
ANNOYANCE LEVEL: LOW Just stay out of their way & they'll leave you alone. Mostly harmless.
The Santa line: Now, I don't have a problem with the ol' Pagan guy, myself. No, the problem that I have is the MEAN BITCHY PARENTS WHO ARE WAITING FOR THEIR BRATTY LITTLE BASTARD CHILDREN TO SIT ON THIS FAT GUY'S LAP. The mall is packed. You only have a few minutes for a break. Let me give you some advice; DON'T TRY TO CROSS THE LINE OF MEAN BITCHY PARENTS WHO ARE WAITING FOR THEIR BRATTY LITTLE BASTARD CHILDREN TO SIT ON THIS FAT GUY'S LAP. I swear to GOD, try and SET THE EXAMPLE, PEOPLE!!! Show your kids that it is OKAY TO LET PEOPLE THROUGH THE LINE. WE'RE NOT CUTTING, PEOPLE!! WE'RE JUST TRYING TO GET THROUGH THE HUGE LINE TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE. You know, nothing says Christmas like grumpy, fast tempered parents who yell and bitch because little Billy or little Suzy got more lap-time than their kid. Christ...
ANNOYANCE LEVEL: VARIED More of an irritation on the weekends than any other time. But it'll be there...it's waiting.
Mass o' Cardeboarde: This isn't a character, but it is a threat, nonetheless. The earliest story concerning this happened in 1781, & is below.
(Reprinted by permission) Johnny Goldthorne was a lad of 17 summers & a hard worker, to boot. He'd been compared to his father; a merchant marine who travelled the seas by summer and stayed at home for the winter. His father had laid the groundwork for Johnny's life early on. He told his son three things that he could always count on.
The first, to be honest and true in regards to people. The second was to work as hard as you can. And the third? Well, it concerned something vulgar about women-folk, so I won't go into it. But Johnny stayed true to his father's sayings, even getting a job at Ye' Old Gadzooks. He needed some extra coins for the Winter-Solistice Festival and the gifts that he and his family would give each other on that special day. He did wish to himself that they would change the name, though. Winter-Solistice Festival doesn't exactly slip off the toungue like cats-mittens, you know?
It was a hard day at the Malle of Charle's Ton. Many a people had buggied in from other counties (some as far as Poca!) and business that day had been brisk. They were so busy that Mistress Amey of Ye Old Gadzooks hadn't a time to beat him, today! Busy, indeed!
His last chore of the evening had him gathering all of the garbage and papers and torn-apart penny-wraps to the dumpster. It wasn't an easy task, but, since it was usually the last of the chores, he always looked forward to it. He passed the usual shoppe-keepers, who always had time to wave at Johnny. He waved back & made his way.
He passed Old Mad Hettie, & Mistress Colestice and RYE (the rye store) and all of the regulars when a young security guard came up to him.
Johnny) Ello, there. Nice 'nuff day, innit?
Security Guard) I guess so.
Johnny) You new, 'ere?
Security Guard) Yes, but I assure you that I won't be here for long. I'm going places. And I don't have time to talk to you.
And with that, the young security guard walked off. "Now, that's damn rude..." Johnny thought to himself, before making his way to the trash. "What did that bloke's nametag say? Oh, yeah. Dennis Somethin' or whuteva'."
Johnny slowly opened the door leading to the trash. The hallways here were old when the city was formed and they say that the hallways will be there when the city is gone. At least, that's what THEY say.
Johnny pushed his cart to the final doors before wandering outside. After dumping this, he could go and be with his loved ones all the sooner. Soon he would be on his horse, heading for home. Soon, he would be eating 4Rat Stew, in front of the fire, where he would be safe and warm and loved.
He opened the exit doors & stared.
Cardboard. Tons of it. All over the place. Cardboard here and stewn elsewhere and laid yonder. It was on top of everything and it covered all. And then it spoke.
"You, worker of the Mall. This is your price. You do not love the compactor. You do not respect the compactor. You offer it no prayers or reverence or respect. So be it. This is the price that you will pay, little worker. From now on, a curse will accompany all dumpsters here at this mall. Whenever you are in a hurry to go home, be it early, on time or because of lateness, these dumpsters will ALWAYS be full when you come out here. So not only will you have to do YOUR trash, but ANOTHERS'. This is the price that you will pay...forvever."
Johnny thought to himself for a minute, & then spoke.
"Well, beggin' your pardon, good sir, but that'll take like, whut? An extra minute or two?"
"Errrr...Something like that."
"Ah, well," Johnny continued, "'at's a Hell of a curse, so it is. No eyes meltin' or guts flyin' out me bum?"
"Hmmmm...Well, that's right scary, so it is. Well, here's some more trash for ye'."
And with that, Johnny crushed all of the cardeboarde, along with his garbage from the store. But be warned, for it could be anyone who has to take trash out that could be inconvenienced! It could be the Blacksmithe. It could be the Farmer. It could be the Banker.
It could be you!!!
Brrrr...scary, huh, kids? And to this very day you'll find shitloads after shitloads of cardboard laying out in the dumpster, uncrushed by the bastards who left it. God forbid that they actually CRUSH THEIR OWN F**KING GARBAGE!! Assholes!!
ANNOYANCE LEVEL: UNMEASURABLE I'm seriously thinking about setting up a little booth with a weapon of some sort and just watching the dumpster. If some person brings a bunch of trash and doesn't crush it; that's it for them. As long as I get a jury of people who work at the mall, I'll never be convicted.
Final thoughts: So now, you have the players. You have the situation. You have the strategy. And now, you have a description of the battlefield. With this, you have an almost complete picture of the story, so far. But not the entire story. Np, that's still to come. Remember, Walt Whitman said it best; Tis not the fires that I seek, but the warmth from them."
I don't know. I may have that line confused with CHARLES Whitman, the Texas Sniper. I get them confused, sometimes.
Now, businesses at the Mall make a HUGE chunk of their money during the Christmas months, so several new rules instantly go into effect during this time. These rules are known as the Eleven Business Commandments. They are as follows.
1) Thou shalt show up to work on time
2) Thou shall actually do your job
3) Thou shall not get in the manager's way
4) Thou shalt not get on the manager's nerves
5) Thou shalt not openly attack the customers
6) Thou shalt not talk about Fight Club
7) Thou shalt push promotions
8) Thou shalt not get on the manager's nerves
9) Thou shalt not eat garlic &/or onions on your break
10) Thou shalt not (openly) drink on the job
11) Thou shalt not talk or look directly at Uncle Jason (He's busy...)
Yesiree, these apply at ALL businesses at the Charleston Town Center, not just where I work. And what's another thing that comes with the winter months? Peace and Love and Goodwill to Mankind? F**k, no! Shipment!! Dear Holy Shit!! I'm talking MOUNTAINS of the stuff. Boxes here, boxes there, boxes ever'where. It is a very different experience to go through. For 10 months of the year, whenever you get shipment, you open it up, you take it out of the box, you study it, you figure out where best in the store it will go. But in November and December, it's a little bit different. During these months, whenever you get shipment, you open it up, PUT IT OUT!! PUT IT OUT ON THE SALESFLOOR NOW!!! NOW, NOW NOW!!!! DEAR GOD, EVERY SECOND YOU WASTE HERE, WE LOSE A SALE!! PUT IT OUT THERE NOW, ASSWIPE!! There are several different ways to put out shipment. Rachel and Tovah (both store managers. Watch their examples, kids!) do it the proper way, combining like things and such and quickly and efficiently putting out everything where it belongs. I myself use a different method. I open a box up, carry it onto the sales floor, jump up on the cash-wrap counter and spin around like The Challenger on crack. The merchandise just flies out and lands wherever. Some on the floor. Some on the wall. All I know is that I end up with an empty box (And a way-killer dizzy feeling, you know, dude?) Of course, Donnie has us all beat with his "Throw the box against the wall and hope sumthin' sticks" technique. He doesn't do this very often but he's two for two with it, so far. Now, I promised not to reveal Donnie's secret technique, so, don't worry, Donnie. Your secret is safe with me.
Now, the shipment is slowly rising as surely as a 14 year olds no-reason boner as we get closer to Thanksgiving, so the staff is slowly getting used to it. Thanksgiving is usually a beloved Holiday, with family and friendship as the focus. But, again, thanks to retail, we who work at the mall now have a reason to hate ANOTHER holiday. You see, there's this thing called BLACK FRIDAY.
BLACK FRIDAY is the first offical kick-off for the shopping season. It's also the first day after Thanksgiving, when the major mall stores open WAY TOO F**KING EARLY FOR MY TASTES. So, of course, I'm the one opening on that day. In case you don't know it, I'm not really a morning person. In the same way that Hitler wasn't a Chaunuka person. Bang! Remember, my name is Jimmie Levon. So send your letters to Jimmie Levon, c/o 192 sumthing sumthing, at Blah Blah, sumthing sumthing. Write early and write often.
So, where are we in the scheme of things? It's now Thanksgiving on my timeline. There are millions and millions of stories of family going on right now. There are newlyweds who are having their first all-family Thanksgiving with their in-laws. There are elderly couples who are enjoying a last Thanksgiving together. There are families who are spending their Thanksgiving in homeless shelters, feeding on a simple meal but appreciating it just a little more than you or I would. There are lonely people who are spending their Thanksgiving with a tv dinner and the television as their only company. And what am I thinking?
Screw all of them assholes. I HAVE TO GET UP AT 5:00AM FRIDAY MORNING. Life just ain't fair.
To paraphrase the song just a little, "It's beginning to feel a lot like...HELL."
Let me explain sumthin' to you. I need to sleep. I mean, like, A LOT. I love it. I have to have my six hours of rest a night or I'm crankier than usual (which, sadly enough, no one has noticed yet...) I hate waking up early and I especially hate waking up early to go to work. And why? Because of the 42 minute factor.
The 42 minute factor is something that I'm sure that you've experienced. If you're asleep and you wake up an hour or so before you have to get up, you have enough time to fall back asleep. If you wake up like 20 minutes or so before you're supposed to get up, you can just stay awake and get an early rise on the day. No, the most amount of time that will thoroughly inconvenience you is 42 minutes. Now, on BLACK FRIDAY, I am scheduled to be at the mall at 6:00AM (!) so my clock is set to go off at 5:00am.
It is now 4:18am and I'm wide awake. Christ, what a way to start out the day. Nothing like NOT GETTING EVERY BIT OF REST THAT I'D NEED, you know what I'm saying? I decide then and there to get out of bed early, to get an early start on the day! Of course, it takes me about 30 minutes to come to this decision so my "early start on the day" is actually only about 12 minutes. Well, I'll take what I can get.
Bathroom. Dressed. Ready for work. I walk outside and it's REAL dark. I mean, supernaturally dark. I then remember that it is BLACK FRIDAY, so I make my way to the car. I arrive at the mall.
5:45am: I give the parking-toll-zombies-who-live-for-the-suffering-and-irritation-of-others my Dolluh-fiddy and park my car in a surprisingly good parking spot. Of course, the reason I found a good parking spot is because IT'S 5:45 IN THE F**KING MORNING!! I do take notice that the parking garage is kinda full for so early in the morning. Man. that's not a good sign.
5:50am: I am now walking through the mall and I'm seeing a lot of shopping-ready women, all lined up outside of a toy store. They look mean and irritable and just angry-in-general and glare at me as I walk by. I give them a "Good morning, ladies!" which gets me a lot of bitter stares in return. Season of Peace and Love, my big, white ass!! Anyhoo, I enter the store and start doing the opening-the-store bit.
6:30am: I am working on backstocking when I suddenly get a feeling of immense dread and immeasurable doom. I look over my shoulder and look at the front of the store. There are about 5 hot ladies staring at me. I nod at them and smile a brilliant smile at them. Use the charm, I think to myself. One of them speaks.
HOT LADY NUMBER 1: Hey, buddy...
UNCLE JASON: Yes?
HOT LADY NUMBER 1: How much are those big Care Bears?
I answer her question and then procede to use the "don't look directly at the sun" technique. No matter what I hear, no matter what I smell, no matter what I sense, I will not look directly at the front of the store. I finish all of the pre-open-store stuff and now, I'm finally ready.
7:00am (DOOMSDAY...): I open the doors and await the total onslaught that is sure to come. And...nothing. Just because the mall has a lot of traffic doesn't mean that they are there to see YOU, you understand? The bigger department stores are having ungodly sales going on right now, so they're getting all of the attention at the moment. But they are coming. Soon.
7:10am: A customer is walking up to the door! They're looking in! They're...slowly turning away and leaving. Agh.
7:15am: A customer walks in with about 3 bags o' merchandise. I greet her and turn around and see 2 more customers. I greet them and turn around and see 4 more customers. I greet them and turn around and see 8 customers. I greet them and turn around and see 16 customers. Uh-oh. This doesn't look good.
7:25am: I'm running around like a teenager at a porn-site. I'm helping these people and getting something down for these people and unlocking stuff for these people and so on and so on. It wasn't so bad, though. I only had to do 2 RETURNS during this period. Man, I'll be happy when my 8:00am part timer shows up.
8:00am: No part timer. He's not here, as of yet. I calm down and take the bullets out of the gun and tell myself that it'll all be fine. He'll be here any minute.
8:05am: Not here yet.
8:10am: Not here yet.
8:15am: Not here yet.
8:20am: Not here yet.
8:22am: Ah!! He's here! Thank God! He just walked into the store! Below is the actual conversation.
Part timer: Hey!
Jason: Hey, man, where've you been?
Part timer: Man, traffic out there is bad. Can I get your parking card?
Part timer: Uh, hello? Can I get your card?
Jason: You...you haven't parked your car yet?
Part timer: Not yet.
Now, I'm not real sure what happened here, as the next few minutes are pretty much all a blur to me. The part timer went and parked his car and was ready to work on the busiest shopping day of the year only 30 minutes late. Ah, me...
9:00am: Too busy to remember.
9:30am: Too busy to remember.
10:00am: Too busy to remember.
10:30am: THE CROWDS!! THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!! THEY'RE ATTACKING THE FRONT! SOS!! GET THEM BEFORE...
11:00am: Too busy to remember.
11:30am: Too busy to remember.
12:00pm: Lunch. I treat myself to a Duck L'orange, with a lite white wine sauce & baby peas & Chitton cut rice. Or maybe I had a chilli-dog. I don't remember.
12:30pm: I steel myself to go back out on the floor. These customers are nothing. I am invincible. Nothing can bother me.
1:00pm: I want my Mommy!! These people won't leave me alone! WAAAHHHHHHHH!!!
1:30pm: Too busy to remember.
2:00pm: And...I'm done.
All in all, not too bad a day. We helped out a lot of people get their Christmas shopping done and even made the store a little $$$. Not too shabby. I think to myself how busy today was, but it wasn't so bad. Only about another month of this to go.
When last we left you, our store was under onslaught by the disgusting scum known as THE GENERAL SHOPPING PUBLIC. Below are actual questions that we've heard during this time.
"Can I just buy one pair of panties from this 3-pak?"
"What do you mean you don't have these pants in a size 48?"
"Can I return this? I have no tags or receipt."
"The last one was just sold? You don't have others in the back?"
"This stuff on clearance that's half-off? Will it go any lower?"
"Can't you help me out with this price?"
"Can I return this?" (Just bought five minutes earlier.)
"Please quit hitting me!"
The only thing that was keeping me sane at this point was reruns of Buffy, a diet of Ho-Ho's and breakfast shakes, whiskey, and a steady stream of Japanese Horror movies that I could watch, no matter how erratic my schedule would be. Anyhoo, the staff and management both performed admirably during this time. Very few complaints, errors or gunshots were reported. It would be exercise in futility to try and describe the stuff that went on during the month of December, so I will just talk about what happened on Christmas eve.
Christmas Eve: I am opening on this day and I am expecting very low crowds. Of course, there are several people a waitin' at the door for us to open. Agh...
But, unexpectably enough, it's a fairly easy day, with only the most desperate and worried of shoppers coming in. We dealt with them profesionally enough (Get out before I smack you in the nose!!!) and, finally, the end of the day came. One thing that really made me laugh was an arrival of four boxes of shipment. "Thank God!" I thought to myself. "We have at least...THREE HOURS TO SELL THIS STUFF!! THANK GOD IT DIDN'T GET SENT HERE LIKE, I DON'T KNOW...YESTERDAY!!" Maybe it's just me, but...
And now, a personal note. There is a word that I hate. I soooooooo despise this word. It's always around and it's always been there and it's always going to come back. It's the word "nostalgia". In the 80's, things from the 60's where in. In the 90's, things from the 70's where in. Well, it's the 2000's (Don't really know what to call em' so they're gettin' called that.) and the 80's are back in full force. It started a few years back, but now it's in full gear. For all you people listening to 80's music and reading 80's comics (G.I. Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, etc...) and getting Carebears & Goonies & Strawberry Shortcake stuff, I have a brief message for you.
You cut that shit out RIGHT NOW, DAMMIT!! The eighties were easily one of the shittiest decades this country has ever crapped out and you people need to realize it. Crappy T.V. shows, bad movies, REAL bad clothes (You people who were there know what I'm talking about. Parachute pants. Remember them?) and the music. Don't even give me that shit about Guns N' Roses or the Smiths or the Cure because for every one of them you got, I got Taco or Rockwell or Survivor or Milli Vanilli or Falco. Sure there was some good, but there was a whole lotta' bad. Hopefully this little rambling will pave the way to the future, because, man, we've only got 7 more years until 2010 and I sooooo don't want to watch the "Friends Cast Reunion TV movie".
I don't know. Maybe I'm just burnt from the holidays.
Speaking of which, back to Christmas eve. Me and FAITHFUL STAFF were tidying up and cleaning the store and using our telepathic powers to TRY and MAKE THE CLOCK GO FASTER. But, of course, this did not work. Finally, it led to this moment.
'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the store,
not a person was shopping, so we swept up the floor.
The shirts were a' folded, all crisp and all square,
for soon the fat manager would come by and stare.
"Fix this one! Fix that one!" he'd yell with a huff,
"Sweep under that! Hey, pick up that stuff!"
For Uncle Jason wanted to go to his home,
but the workers were slow, they moved as if stoned.
Threats, yells and cussings, they did not the trick,
but then a knock at the front, could this be Saint Nick?
A fat man appeared & stood at the door,
His costume all red, his bag on the floor.
A nice trimmed white beard did go off his chin,
Santa then yelled as he said with a grin,
"Merry Christmas to you, good tidings to all!"
"Except for you people. You work at the mall."
"Commercialism has near killed that which made this day dear."
"The mall is my anti-Christ so you can smooch my rear."
"And you, Uncle Jason, did you hear what I said?"
I guess Uncle Jason did, cause' he shot Santa dead.
Well, the workers cleaned up the crime scene and divvied up his stash,
one worker got car keys, one worker got cash.
And Uncle Jason went to the roof and came back with a treat,
he brought back 8 dead deer with him, all get deer-meat!
So the lesson that's learned for one and for all,
Is that whatever you do, leave them alone at the mall.
So Uncle Jason was heard as he drove off with a grin,
"Merry Christmas to all. I watchin' Fight Club again."
Uh, for those of you with children, you may wanna leave that last part out of your bedtime reading. I mean, you can leave it in, but it's just gonna cost you in psychiatric bills later. Anyhoo...
Christmas at Shangra-Lane was fortunate. My family got stuff. I got stuff. I gave stuff to others. I got stuff from others.
Same as it ever was. Oh, well, at least I'm not in Canada. Boxing Day? What a bunch of little girls...
I hate THE DAY AFTER after Christmas. Not for the depressing "Oh, it's gonna be another year until Christmas" spiel that I hear some of you whiny liberals spout out. No, the reason I hate THE DAY AFTER is very simple. It's the day when people return the most items. I do not understand the person who gets up EARLY the day after Christmas, gets dressed and comes to the mall to bring something back that they don't want. I understand the reasons why you would want something returned (broken, wrong size, don't like it at all, too gay, not gay enough, etc...), I just have a problem with people who GET UP EARLY ON A DAY OFF. This just isn't right. When I have a day off, it takes either a 4 alarm fire or a court order to get me out of bed. I've seen a lot of weird shit in my life but this still makes me shake my head.
Anyhoo, like I said earlier, THE DAY AFTER is the day that most returns happen and I'm not ashamed to admit that I hate doing returns. I hate em'. Whenever someone comes in to return something, I turn into a master ninja, jumping up to the ceiling and holding on to it, MATRIX style. My biggest wish is that I could get one of those PREDATOR suits where you turn invisible. That way, when a fat guy returning a XXXL shirt because it's too small walks in our store, before Donnie or Tovah can look my way, I can just shimmer into see-through land. Then they can deal with him. Ha-Ha! Take that, you skinny, skinny people!
Anyway, I come in THE DAY AFTER, and it's busy. My brain keeps asking "Why? Why is it busy?" when I see that most of our customers have shopping bags from the bigger stores (Kaufmans, Sears, J.C. Penneys, Vitamin World) and then it dawns on me. AFTER CHRISTMAS SALES. No, no, let's not let America have 2 days in a row free from the badgering of retail. No, let's have a major sale THE DAY AFTER F**KING CHRISTMAS!! This is just sooooo wrong, I'm sure it's illegal, somehow. Ah, February, you seem so far away right now...
The day went as follows. This is done over a thirty minute time span, so when you read the thirtieth one, start back at minute one.
Minute one...help customers
Minute two...do a return
Minute three...help customers
Minute four...find a shirt for a fat guy
Minute five...find a shirt for a fat lady
Minute six...do a return
Minute seven...stop customers from attacking a fellow employee
Minute eight...put out the fire
Minute nine...do a return
Minute ten...do a return
Minute eleven...do a return
Minute twelve...help customers
Minute thirteen...do TWO returns
Minute fourteen...keep an eye one two suspicious customers
Minute fifteen...put the gun away and remember what all the witnesses looked like
Minute sixteen...wonder if we're getting a break from all the returns
Minute seventeen...do six returns
Minute eighteen...getting coaxed down from the loft by Donnie "It's ok, there won't be that many more returns. Come down! Quit kicking the ladder away!"
Minute nineteen...back on the floor and helping customers
Minute twenty...do a return
Minute twenty one...help customers
Minute twenty two...take a drink of Mountain Dew (tm). Ah, Mountain Dew (tm), you caffeinated God! I love you!
Minute twenty three...watch a woman walk into our store with our store's logo on the front of it. I know this is a return, I know it!!
Minute twenty four...and I watch the woman leave! She didn't want to return anything!! Thank God!
Minute twenty five...the woman comes back with her two daughters. All of them have returns.
Minute twenty six...gin and breath mints
Minute twenty seven...don't really remember this minute, due to the gin and breath mints
Minute twenty eight...refreshed and recharged!! due to the gin and breath mints
Minute twenty nine...do returns for the stuff the fat guy and the fat lady bought earlier
Minute thirty...help customers
AND RETURN TO MINUTE ONE, THEN REPEAT.
All in all, it was an eventful day. Which made it all the more depressing when I found a flyer laying on the ground in front of our store. What did it say? You guessed it. "Weekend after Christmas sale at NAME OF STORE HERE. It starts at 8:00 AM(!) Friday morning!! Be there for the savings!!"
Well, strangely enough, the customers started dying off (when I say this, this is not to imply that they were poisoned or murdered in any way. It is just an expression to describe the slowing down of customer traffic) at about six, which is funny because that was the time I was scheduled to go home. God Dammit. You ever hear of that guy who washes his car and then it rains? Glad to meet you. But I thought that our staff handled THE DAY AFTER rather well. Customers were happy. Management was happy. The staff was happy. All was right in the world.
Until THE DAY AFTER THE DAY AFTER.
Next issue: THE DAY AFTER THE DAY AFTER.
(Nah, I'm only kidding. If you want to know about THE DAY AFTER THE DAY AFTER, go to the top of this page, and read the damn thing again.