Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gift Wrap Your Life

Dear Diary,

I'm getting work through a temp agency I read about in the want ads. They're called 'Good Enough For You' People. I like that name. I like it a whole lot. That's why I called them.

The first thing my rep at the agency wanted to do was test my typing skills. His name is Paulie. Paulie told me their average temp worker can type 50 words per minute. During my timed minute, I was able to type half a word, but it wasn't spelled right.

Yesterday, they found me a position wrapping gifts in a mall for the Holidays.

I was one of only two males at our wrapping booth. All eight of us 'gift wrappers' wore red aprons and Santa elf hats. I loved it! Lorraine, the only other temp worker (also from 'Good Enough For You' People), was positioned beside me so we were kind of like a team. Lorraine is Italian-Canadian, just over four feet tall, with tiny hands, skinny legs and a child-like face which is odd since she is in her thirties. She also looks like she's wearing kids' clothes – she's that tiny (in fact, yesterday, her sweater sported a picture of The Wiggles). When she first arrived at the gift wrapping table, she asked the regular, full-time, mall employees a battalion of questions.

LORRAINE: Okay, so where should I allow everyone to place their gifts? Are there some people we should refuse service to? Like people going to weddings, birthdays or funerals? Does anyone have any allergies I should know about? Can everyone let the customers know that even though I'm single, I'm not available – my apologies, everyone. I have a small bladder and I need to pee every ten minutes so I may need one of you to stand behind me as backup as the need arises, and also to hold my 2 liter bottle of water. I don't know about you but I need constant hydration. Do you mind not standing so close to me? When I get focused and I get wrapping, there's no telling what I'll wrap.

All the gift wrappers were sighing and rolling their eyes at her. Our boss was the other male at the table.

OUR BOSS: Okay, everyone from the temp agency, just follow the mall employees on how to wrap gifts. Remember, time is of the essence.

LORRAINE: Amen to that! Everyone, you can also follow me! I don't usually give anyone anything this time of year, but I know my way around paper and a big pair of scissors!

The gift wrapping table was hectic with a long line going through the entire mall. Lorraine and I rushed to get all our presents wrapped.

WEALTHY LOOKING MALE CUSTOMER: Excuse me, I don't think this is the present I came here with.

LORRAINE: How am I supposed to know? It's all wrapped up now.

CUSTOMER: Well, it was an iPhone 4 for my daughter and this box is way too big for an iPhone 4.

LORRAINE: Well, someone did bring a big box from the dollar store. Some cheap paper model toy, I think.

CUSTOMER: So where's my iPhone?

LORRAINE: It might still be in this box. No one knows right now; it's all wrapped up.

CUSTOMER: This is unacceptable.

LORRAINE: Well, just give your daughter this box and find out on Christmas morning if it's an iPhone or a paper piece of crap.

CUSTOMER: I want to talk to your boss.

LORRAINE: Listen, your iPhone is long gone, and we're busy. I suggest you scram; I've got a lot of nice gifts here to wrap, not like the paper model garbage your daughter's getting.

OUR BOSS: What seems to be the problem here?

LORRAINE: Oh, nothing. This customer was just leaving with the junk he's giving his daughter for Christmas. What a dead beat.

OUR BOSS (unemotional and efficient): Lorraine, you need to go. I'll call the agency to send someone else.

Lorraine stared up at our boss' name tag.

LORRAINE: Is your name really Valerie?


LORRAINE: Is it okay if I just call you Val?

VALERIE (with sarcasm): Is it okay if I just call you Lor?

All the red-apron-ed, full-time, mall employees chuckled at his comment.

LORRAINE: Not if you want me to strangle you...

Valerie's face went red. Everyone was quiet.

LORRAINE: With your pantyhose.

VALERIE: Get out. Both of you.

LORRAINE: That's fine. Staring at you all day and thinking about how unhappy everyone in your life must be was starting to depress me.

Lorraine and I made our way to the staff room to gather our belongings.

LORRAINE: Eric, stick with me. You'll learn a few things.

I couldn't help but worry as I put on my coat.

ME: Will the agency still get us work? Are we done at 'Good Enough For You' People?

Lorraine didn't answer me. I looked up and discovered her piling everyone's winter coats into her Popsicle stick-like arms.

ME: What are you doing?

LORRAINE: Let's go!

I raced after the itsy-bitsy Lorraine as she spirited down the hall with a mountain of winter gear. Once we were on the top floor of the mall, Lorraine looked down the wide open atrium at the gift wrapping booth on the first floor.

Lorraine lobbed the pile of coats into the open space, and the coats glided down like glorious, giant, puffy snowflakes.

LORRAINE (in a deep, jolly boom): Merry Christmas! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Everyone in the mall looked up as Lorraine and I stepped away.

Lorraine was beaming, on top of the world. She winked up at me.

LORRAINE: Welcome to the winner's circle.

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