And I Ask Myself Again: What Is My Life?

7 Jan

If you thought me selling a product called “Mr. Sticky” at a store called “B.J.’s” was bad, much like I did, apparently you were, much like myself, unaware that I could soon be selling a product called the “Microfiber Cleaning Cloth” at a store called “Kmart.”

I woke up that first day of training feeling pretty nervous. I wasn’t as nearly as prepared as I should have been. My script wasn’t memorized, like I had been for Mr. Sticky. All I knew was that Jennifer would be training me again, so at least that was good. I knew she’d help me through it.

Thankfully, the Kmart was only about 20 minutes away from my house, which may sound a little far, but when compared to the other locations which range from an hour and a half to two hours away, this felt like five minutes. I arrived at Kmart. As I emerged from my car and shut the door, I saw a Hispanic woman physically disciplining her young son outside by the neon blue 1 cent pony ride. I also stepped over a puddle which was filled with a bloody, used condom.

My spidey senses told me it was going to be a lucrative day.

As I approached the Kmart, I could see what waited for me inside through the automatic doors: Neon clearance signs. Tween T-shirts that say things like “Daddy’s Little Girl” over cartoon monkeys holding ice cream cones on skateboards. Awkward, unknown brand named trail mixes unceremoniously shoved in the shoe department.

I let out a sigh.

The best part about the day is finding the booth where we will be selling our products. This always proves to be an adventure. You see, the booth is set up before we even get there. So, if you’ve never been to that particular location before, right from the get go you’re automatically forced to search for the place of your sure-to-be failure.

Now that I think about it, it’s kind of cruel… in an unavoidable, deal-with-it sort of way.

I walked the entire perimeter of the Kmart, witnessing more physical disciplining, misplaced items, and general chaos. For a moment I was afraid I had arrived at the incorrect Kmart. And then, I saw it.

The "Booth."

The “Booth.”

Okay… first of all, can we just… Just take a moment. Just look at that. Soak it in. Really look at what is going on here.

Okay. So, the “Booth” is actually a legitimate STAGE, and we have lovingly been positioned between the Christmas Clearance, patio furniture, and the Pharmacy. Humans are running around the “booth,” yelling, cursing, screaming. There is a woman who is actually faster than The Flash who seems to be rushing towards the Pharmacy, God bless her.

Now, what you can’t really see from this picture is the backdrop that Jennifer and I would soon refer to as “The Pretentious Waterfall.” See that black square in the background that has the EuroClean logo on it? Yeah, well, that’s actually a waterfall. It’s a fountain. In the middle of a Kmart, attached to the back of a portable mop selling stage. Note how the little girl is looking longingly at its calming, tranquil ripples.

I then looked to the left of the stage. This is what I saw:

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And, just in case you couldn’t get the full aesthetic beauty of the Christmas clearance section partially hidden behind the giant wheelie cart full of general garbage, here:

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I’m used to a modest, slightly elevated booth where I sell Mr. Sticky. I’m used to standing in said little booth, talking to little old ladies in department stores about their grandchildren and Cocker Spaniels. I was absolutely not ready for the harsh class difference realities of this Orlando Kmart.

“Okay,” I thought to myself. “Okay. You can do this.”

Soon it was time for our first pitch. Now, before every pitch, we must make a few announcements that let the valued, loyal customers of Kmart know that we will be giving away “free advertising gifts.” This is called “The Bally.” As in, “Come on, Carolyn, it’s time for us to go Bally.” This attracts people to the booth I mean the pretentious waterfall mop selling stage. Unfamiliar with the protocol of this establishment, I followed Jennifer into the toy section in search of the phone.

“Now, this Kmart doesn’t have speakers that work over here,” Jennifer told me over her shoulder. “So when we Bally, we have to basically scream so that this side of the store can hear us.”


We turn the corner, and I look at the phone.

 

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Call me, beep me, if you wanna kill me.

We get into position.

Jennifer: Well… here goes nothing.

She picks up the phone. She dials the number, and inhales to speak… Suddenly, we hear something that sounds like a mixture between a car screeching to a halt and a cat being murdered with a spatula coming from the aisle to our right.

Old Mother Pushover: It’s OKAY, honey, we’ll find it!
Satanic Offspring: YEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIII DONT WANT THAT ONE I WANNA, I WANNA (gasp, sob, screech, sob) THAT ONE!!!!
Old Mother Pushover: Well, honey, I promise we’ll find what you wanted! Here, here! (sounds of rummaging and adjusting) Is THIS the one?
Satanic Offspring: NO! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!! (sounds of boxes being thrown from the shelves.) NNNNNEEEEEOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Suddenly, a deep African American man’s voice can be heard from the aisle to our right…

Old Man River: I KNOW, Gloria, I am IN the toy section. I am TELLING YOU, it ISN’T HERE! They don’t have the one she WANTS! … WELL I’VE BEEN SEARCHING ALL MORNING!
Jennifer:
Me:
Old Man River: F*ck this sh*t, Gloria! Why couldn’t YOU have just gotten this ******* thing when YOU were here last, huh!?!?! Leave everything up to ME!?
Jennifer: (holds the phone, frozen.)
Me: (Whispered) This is not real life.
Jennifer: (Inhales again… Literally screaming as if she were on the other side of Ellis Island trying to round up her tour group) LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE!

My heart literally stops, because I cannot hear Jennifer’s voice on ANY of the speakers. She is literally SCREAMING into this phone, and I’m almost positive that she cannot be heard.

Me: Uh, Jennifer?
Satanic Offspring: (one aisle over) I DONT WANT THAT ONE!!!!
Old Mother Pushover: Okay, honey, I promise we’ll find the one that we had earlier…
Satanic Offspring: YYYEEAAAA….. NO no NO no NO no NOOO!!!!
Jennifer: IN JUST THREE MINUTES, WE WILL START HANDING OUT-
Old Man River: F*CK THIS GLORIA! I’M NOT DEALING WITH THIS SH*T!
Jennifer: FREE, ADVERTISING GIFTS-
Old Mother Pushover: Now if you don’t start behaving… we’re not going to get ANY toys…
Jennifer: TO EVERY ADULT CUSTOMER-
Satanic Offspring: GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAA uhbuhbuhbuhbuh EEAAAAAA!!!!!
Jennifer: IN THE STORE, IN ORDER TO INTRODUCE NEW-
Old Man River: What?!
Jennifer: MERCHANDISE, NOT NORMALLY AVAILABLE-
Old Man River: I CAN’T HEAR YOU, YOU’RE- aw hell no- YOU’RE BREAKING UP! Stupid ass phone-
Jennifer: IN THIS STORE.
(Cue: Explosion of boxes to our left.)
Satanic Offspring: PPPPPEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!
Old Mother Pushover: NO! Oh, goodness, no. Now, that wasn’t very nice!
Old Man River: WHHAATTT!!?!?!?!

Now, keep in mind, during all of this, I am in the toy aisle, surrounded by this:

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And this:

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And, God help us all… This:

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Who in the the name of all that is pop is (Singing) Cody Simpson?!? Now, not only am I forced to literally annihilate the inside of my mouth to keep from laughing at the social atrocity unfolding around us, but now I’m also being forced to recognize how old I’m becoming…. I don’t even know the childhood pop stars anymore!

And there, right then, in the middle of Jennifer’s attempted Bally, Old Man River’s vulgar cell phone argument, and Satanic Offspring’s literal emotional breakdown, I stare at Cody Singing Simpson and ask myself the age-old question that has been haunting me every day since graduation:

What. Is… My life?

A RECAP OF MY LIFE:

  • I am in a Kmart. (Do Kmart’s even EXIST anymore!?!?)
  • The speakers in the back section of this Kmart do not work.
  • There is a waterfall on the mop selling stage.
  • Our mop selling stage has been set up between the Christmas clearance section, and the patio furniture. Sensible choices, all around.
  • Someone deserves a medal.
  • I am standing in the toy aisle.
  • I am staring at the mocking faces of FurReal Friends and tween pop stars who have been turned into barbie dolls that look nothing like them; A true mark of success and fame.
  • I am literally attempting to sell microfiber mops, to people who just want a friggen free gift.
  • That’s it. That’s all they want.
  • My parents paid for four years of an intensive BFA college degree, and I am currently selling mops to humans.
  • False. I’m not even SELLING them yet. I’m just learning how to sell them.
  • I’m hungry.
  • I have 4 loads of laundry waiting for me when I get home.
  • Jennifer is absentmindedly playing with the “Try Me! I wag my tail for you!” sensors on a puppy dog FurReal friend while in the middle of the Bally.
  • Her deadpan detachment from everything going on around her is a reflection of my own life, in this moment.

There isn’t an appropriate way to end this, so I’ll leave you with these images:

 

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Old Mother Pushover and Satanic Offspring search for the elusive Item of Desire.

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I saw this and I thought to myself, “I wonder what’s going to happen to that 70% off Christmas Eeyore. Absolutely no one is going to buy him.”

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Clearly, I was mistaken.

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Proudly serving the loyal patrons of Kmart, bringing chemical-free cleaning to a home near you.

 

 

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2 Responses to “And I Ask Myself Again: What Is My Life?”

  1. Benjamin Summers January 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    Yup, sounds like a normal day working for US Jesco.

  2. Michael Mullen OHara January 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    Be very proud, my girl!

    When I was earning my very expensive BA from Fordham, I worked for Mid-Country Chemicals selling farm and implement cleaner to farmers across the mid-west via phone sales in a crowded loft in Manhattan. I had to change my name to “Mike Stone” because my real name was too ethnic. The only thing those farmers wanted was prostitutes when they visited New York City and the free color TV we would send them if they ordered a full 55 gal tank on their first order.

    Think of all the material you’re getting!

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