I work for a high end greeting card company. This week I am expanding our space in Target stores across Indiana. What that means is, I stand in the same Target store scanning and unwrapping cards for three to four hours at a time.
A lot goes on in a Target store if you allow yourself to just stand there and listen. One of my favorite parts about my job is the ability to listen in on other people’s conversations with ease. Here I am, just working my section, it isn’t my fault I can hear what that couple over there argues about. Target stores don’t even play any background music. Really, it leaves a vendor with nothing to do BUT listen to the conversations of others. The following occurred at my store last night:
A young dad in his thirties slowly pushed the bright red cart down the aisle in front of me. He took the slow deliberate steps of a shopper carefully scanning the cards looking for a specific section. As I listened to the drop of one dress shoe, then another, I could almost imagine him silently mouthing, “Anniversary…Graduation…Sympathy…uh, where is Thank You?...oh…uh… ok, here it is.” He must have spotted an Elmo card, because suddenly I heard him singing, “Elmo is a monster, a monster, monster, Elmo is a monster. Yes he is.” He sang the song with the bounce of a ping pong ball, hitting each word with a jaunty little tap. He then proceeded to weave through the entire section, except for mine of course, singing his little song. “Elmo is a monster, a monster, monster, Elmo is a monster. Yes he is.”
As he left the card section, I thankfully spotted a baby seat nestled in the back of the shopping cart. He wasn’t singing to himself, but to the baby. Yet, I couldn’t shake the image of a cute little Elmo growing fangs and sprouting gleaming claws as he sprang off the card, like a mini teen wolf. Sure, Elmo is a monster, I guess. I just never thought of him that way. He’s more like a furry sprite or something, a lovable fluffy creature that enjoys singing and tickling. Just then, I realized my mind had annonying picked up the man’s song. In the absence of a new conversation to distract myself, it sang, “Elmo is a monster, a monster, monster, Elmo is a monster. Yes he is.”
Other people of note, two teenage girls about 13 or 14 years old, strode down the main aisle in Lavern and Shirley style, arms hooked together, and counted off, “One, two and THREE!” After which, they proceeded to crow like roosters in the middle of the silent store. They giggled into their hands, delighted with their rebellion and headed towards the makeup aisle.
A mother and daughter argued over how much money remained in the mother’s purse. The mother was in her 60’s, the daughter was in her 30’s. The mother adamantly told the daughter only $20 was left. The daughter assured her it was actually $66. The mother demanded to know how it could be that much. “Because, mom,” the daughter yelled exasperated obviously feeling cornered. “I put another $46 in your purse…OKAY!”
“Why would you do that?” the mother spat back angrily. And they too disappeared down the aisle, off to pay for their items with somebody’s money, the mother’s or the daughter’s. Only the cashier would know.
I almost disappear when I work on the cards. I don’t mind at all. Don’t we all desire to be the fly on the wall sometimes? As I was packing up, a heavy set woman and her friend pursued the cards next to mine. She was fairly heavy set and wore dread locks, a backwards black baseball cap and an oversized white tee shirt that came down past her knees. A large piercing poked out around her mouth, just below her lower lip. After she and her friend read a few of our competitors love cards she announced, “I don’t know, I just don’t think I like him enough for a card like that yet.” She walked away seeming upset. The friend read a couple more cards before giving up herself and did a quick shuffle step to catch up.
I unwrapped my last set of cards and placed them in their designated spot and thought, “I love my job.”