Dance like nobody’s watching


First things first…I had a great time in Portland over the weekend. As promised, I ate myself sick and danced like an idiot to some truly awesome music. In fact, I danced so ecstatically that my family pretended not to know me, and people who didn’t know me were proud of it. However, reality beckoned, and I had to go to work Sunday night after only a very brief inside-the-car nap on the ride home.

After I clocked in, I drank three cups of Shock Coffee and a can of Triple Mocha in less than an hour by way of girding my loins for the shift. It didn’t exactly go as planned. Too much caffeine plus not enough sleep equals…well, have you ever been drifting off to sleep after a very, very long day, only to be awakened suddenly when your cat pounces on your head? That sort of dizzy, heart-in-your-throat, “what-the-fuck-was-that?” shock that leaves you still exhausted, but completely wide awake at the same time? That’s how I felt from 11pm Sunday night until about 5am Monday morning. Six straight hours. Then came the crash. It was a bad’n. By the time my boss wandered in at 6:45am, I was ready for a two week nap. Instead I was told I had to stay for a brief summary of the ‘important’ store meeting I had missed over the weekend, presided over by a couple of Higher Ups from corporate. Allow me to summarize the summary for you:
There’s a big, bad recession goin’ on. People in our area are having a hard time financially. (Actually, they have been since the local textile mill and shoe shop closed down during the 90’s, but it’s worse now than ever.) Historically, poor people living through hard times sink into a depression. This frequently causes them to spend money they don’t have on things they don’t really need…like liquor and cigarettes and lottery tickets. “This,” said my boss, with a gleam in his eye, “is good news.”
“Did you say, ‘good news’?”

Yep, he did. Good News because convenience stores specialize in liquor, cigarettes, and lottery tickets. Increased misery equals increased profits. And, as a Loyal Employee, I’m supposed to maximize the misery/profit flow by suggestive selling scratch tickets and upselling liquor and cigarette orders (half-gallons instead of fifths, three-pack specials instead of packs). AND I’m supposed to play a CD (made specially for us by some shithead at corporate) that’s filled with sad, sappy, depressing music, to capitalize even further on this recession depression.

I nodded, anxious to get home and get to bed, and told him I’d be happy to go along with this “Kick ‘Em When They’re Down” Plan…even though, of course, I had no intention of doing so. I like my customers. I’ve known most of them for years. They’re my neighbors and friends. Most of them work their asses off for not enough pay, unfortunately spend too much of it at our store as it is, and the fuckwads in corporate want me to charm even more of it away from them? I don’t think so. It’s hard enough getting enough sleep when you work third shift; I don’t need a guilty conscience interfering with the process.

This is what I did instead.

Monday evening I burned a CD of my own, filled with upbeat, happy tunes, and brought it into work. I wore my brightest lipstick and smiled my biggest smile to each and every customer who came through the door. I asked fondly about children, subtly reminded customers about mortgage payments and fuel bills, and expounded on the futility of gambling away hard earned cash on a 1-in-500 chance of winning a few bucks from a handful of lottery tickets. At six-thirty I wiped off my lipstick, replaced my happy CD with the sappy CD, and added up my sales. $150 less than the night before. Then I left the store with a spring in my step, drove home with a smile and slept like a baby Tuesday morning.

I only dance for myself.

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About R.J. Keller

R. J. Keller is the author of Waiting For Spring. An avid independent movie enthusiast, she was Managing Editor of The Movie Fanatic website and created episodes of the writer-centric YouTube series, Inside The Writers' Studio, with author Kristen Tsetsi. She co-hosted Book Chatter with Stacey Cochran from 2011-2014. She lives in Central Maine with her family, where she enjoys gardening, collecting geeky memorabilia, and watching other people cook. View all posts by R.J. Keller

8 responses to “Dance like nobody’s watching

  • Jaden @ Screenwriting for Hollywood

    paragraph 1 — Laughing

    paragraph 2 — Feel that pain. Coffee. No sleep. Impromptu work meeting.

    paragraph 3 — “Historically, poor people living through hard times sink into a depression. This frequently causes them to spend money they don’t have on things they don’t really need…like liquor and cigarettes and lottery tickets.”
    Oh, geezze, I AM TOTALLY GUILTY AS CHARGED… and charging….

    Also, the entertainment industry does well during depressions. People want to be entertained and forget their woes!

    Laughing!

    What an amazing post!

  • Kimberly

    A great post.

    I really love the last line.

    It isn’t true of me — but it will be.

    Then, I will sleep well.

  • Jenny

    Fantastic, utterly wonderful post, Keller me girl. Reminds me of why I loves ya. You belong in a Frank Capra movie!

  • Ing

    I love it! I’ve been in the commanded-to-upsell position before, though not in one that egregious. I rebelled against it too…but not nearly that brilliantly. Good job. đŸ™‚

    Ah, Portland…MAINE. (The light bulb finally turns on.) Here I was thinking of the Portland I used to go to all the time on weekends, not realizing that it’s pretty much on the exact opposite end of the continent from the Portland you were talking about.

  • Jen O

    Could you please tell me which fine location you work at? I want to make sure I’m not blindsided by the misery that the rest of the establishments will be doling out.

    I don’t want to be conned into buying my first lotto ticket… or my first big alcohol purchase… or my first pack of cigarettes… Gosh, according to your Higher Ups reasoning, I must not be depressed at all!

    Good job sticking it to the man!

  • R.J. Keller

    Well, I don’t want to give away my top secret location, but I will say that it’s in a boonies town on Route 7 about 40 miles north of you.

  • Sid Leavitt

    Hey, nice capture of Elaine from Seinfeld dancing in your previous entry.

    How did you — you, who claim html illiteracy — do that?

    Anyway, nice job.

  • R.J. Keller

    A friend of mine emailed me the Elaine picture awhile ago. When I asked how she made it, she said something about ‘gif.’ I just said, “Ah” like I knew exactly what she was talking about.

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