Tuesday, December 21, 2010
This Christmas, Hug
A few days after Lorraine and I got fired from our gift wrapping gig, we were sitting across Paulie Johnson's desk. Paulie is our rep at the 'Good Enough For You' People temporary placement agency. He's balding, his tie and top shirt button are always undone, and he has ever-growing sweat stains below his armpits.
PAULIE: Guys, the mall threatened never to use the 'Good Enough For You' People agency ever again.
Lorraine, who's four feet nothing, petite as a child and in her mid-thirties, spoke up.
LORRAINE: Paulie, as far as I'm concerned, we are all better off if you never mention that mall in this room ever again.
Paulie shook his head, incredulous.
PAULIE: They are a huge client of mine.
LORRAINE: They're also a huge pain in the "sun don't shine" area. Move on Paulie. I say move on.
PAULIE: Don't tell me to move on. Lorraine, you lost me the mall. The mall.
LORRAINE: I hate it when people repeat themselves. Move on.
PAULIE: And this new kid...
Paulie pointed at me.
PAULIE: I don't like the look of him. He's too quiet. He's like a little hamster in a cage waiting for just the right moment to snap a chunk off my finger.
LORRAINE: Just keep your fingers out of his cage and you'll be fine.
Lorraine and I were sent to another mall to work a T-shirt booth specializing in Justin Bieber T-shirts and bath towels. The booth's owner was an elderly Russian man named Kaspov and he smelled of cigarettes. The three of us were swamped all day.
Late in the afternoon, our customers began shoving one another, jockeying for better position. There no longer was a coherent line-up of people. Everyone was grabbing at the merchandise. The three of us couldn't work fast enough; folks wanted their Bieber and there was nothing we could do about it.
I couldn't keep up with the hectic pace. Our booth was rocking back and forth. I began chucking T-shirts and towels and people flung money back at me. I fell over the counter and tumbled into the crowd.
Lorraine reached out but she couldn't get to me. She climbed to the roof of the booth.
LORRAINE: Stop! People stop! Justin Bieber wants you to stop!
Everyone calmed down.
ONE CUSTOMER: Is that true? He really wants us to stop?
Lorraine raised her mobile phone up high.
LORRAINE: I have him on my cell phone.
People screamed, wailed and reached for Lorraine, trying to pull her down to snatch her mobile phone.
LORRAINE: So help me Paul McCartney, I will stuff your Silly Bandz into your nostrils and yank them out your bum.
Everyone froze, not sure what was more important: Justin Bieber or Silly Bandz.
LORRAINE (panting): We are doing our best over here and I haven't heard one 'thank you' or a 'you're welcome'. What is wrong with you people? It's Christmas! These are just T-shirts. First it was Kenny Rogers, then Boy George and now it's Justin Bieber. What I find unsettling is not your taste in music, it's your taste in men.
I climbed up beside Lorraine.
ME: Folks, Christmas is a time of sharing. And caring. If you're with someone you love, give them a hug. Do it right now. They're what's important.
Everyone was hugging.
LORRAINE: And I'm sorry but giving someone a Justin Bieber towel is no way to show love. Trust me.
People were talking with one another, laughing and really caring.
KASPOV: And folks, we are sold out.
The crowd erupted. I saw a flame go up one side of the booth. Lorraine grabbed my hand and pulled me away. We were running for our lives as everyone trashed the mall around us.
LORRAINE: Every Christmas, this town loses a mall.