Tis the season… #4: Forgotten Heroes

OK, to really set the mood I’m going to ask that you play this song whilst reading my tribute below. Humor me:

It’s Christmas Eve, and all I ask for is that for one moment you think of the person we should really be remembering at this time of year. Someone who asks so little and yet gives so much. The perfect example of patience and self-sacrifice. Someone who, especially in these troublesome times, can teach us all how to better conduct ourselves and how to treat others.

I’m talking, of course, about all the various store assistants at your local shopping centre.

What? What?! Who’d you think I meant?

See, before the Monkey was a white-collar button pusher, he worked many a horrible retail job. And earlier this week I had to admonish myself for forgetting where I come from. I found myself at Highpoint Shopping Centre (or, as its known to every true western suburbanite, Knifepoint), again. As I sat slumped in a husband chair, a cleaner walked past. She saw my defeated posture and said “Bit tired of this?”. I nodded. She then patted my shoulder and said with great sympathy “You look like you could REALLY use a drink”. And then told me where the nearest bar was.

It made my day.

Yeah, I was wondering if you guys sold giant golden rabbits?

Even as I’d been sitting there I’d been cursing that frigging shopping complex. The idiots slow walking in front of me. The brain-dead breeders, pushing their double-wide prams at 1.4 km per hour. The dude spruiking his “Sham-wow’s”. And then I remembered I could just go home. Now, if I really wanted. Most of these poor bastards working in the stores were there for the long haul, hours and hours at least.

I dont care how easy it makes cleaning spillages

So… spare a thought for:

  • The Checkout Chick, forever trapped, who has to apologize to EVERY customer about their wait and take the subsequent abuse… like it’s their fault this Mongoloid decided Christmas Eve was a good time to hit up a department store (Been there, ‘manned’ a Target register for consecutive Christmas’. Even got screamed at by the customer who refused to pay 45 cents for a Chuppa Chup because ‘THE TAG SAID 40 CENTS!!!’).
  • The Store Assistant, unable to say what he truly thinks to you, doing his best to be polite and not to lose his temper whilst being asked strings of borderline retarded questions (Been there, in the DVD store when I was asked “Do you have any Santa Porn?”. Sure. In our Santa Porn section, next to Drama and Horror… asshole).
  • The Outpost Attendant, miserably manning those small tables in the middle of the centre, explaining over and over that he can’t accept AMEX, and folding and re-folding the clothes every passing customer destroys on a whim (Been there, both the Outpost job and the folding. I worked nightfill at Knifepoint in the lead in to Christmas. I developed increasingly weird sleep patterns, sure, but can I fold the fuck out of a bath-towel).
  • The Assistant Manager, who makes no extra money, received no extra training, but is a convenient scapegoat whenever a Manager isn’t around and a customer wants to scream about a particular item being out of stock (Been there too, working a Gift Shop around the time when Singing Billy Bass was a hit. I got reamed by many a 52-year-old Airport West housewife over that item. That. Fuckin. Fish. To this day I still can’t listen to Bobby McFerrin).

    Die Asshole Fish!!!

  • The Cleaner, whose thankless task is to clean up your scattered, half-finished hokkien noodles and those chocolate sundaes your 8 kids just smeared on the wall (I once dodged a half-eaten soft serve cone thrown head high, only for another kid to spontaneously regurgitate a Strawberry thickshake, Exorcist-style. An inch deep. On carpet).

All these veritable Saints, and many more, have been slaving away invisibly for the past few weeks, near killing themselves while we complain about how tough it was to find parking at Chadstone. They have been doing everything in their power to serve, and the thanks they get is “These shops are a nightmare!” They see every spoilt child’s tantrum, every spoilt adult’s tantrum, all the worst aspects of human behavior. And somehow they’ve still managed to muster up a “Have a great Christmas” to us all.

No, it doesn’t matter if they mean it or not! Would you mean it if your roles were revered for one day?!

I thank Satan Claus himself that I’m no longer in that position when December rolls around. Though, with the job market as it is, in 12 months time you may very well see this Monkey at a Boost Juice, offering you a Guava, Grapefruit, Banana, Acai and Kiwi-fruit Krush.

Until then, remember that schlub in the Toy Department at Big W, the goth chick behind the counter at Borders, the harried single Mum stocking Safeway shelves. Because working nights and weekends for what is almost minimum wage around every asshole under the sun when they’re at their absolute worst… the fact that they do this and hardly anyone gets beaten to death with an Eftpos scanner… THAT’s a Christmas Miracle.

Enjoy your holiday season all,

BPM

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