Sometimes, I wonder about other people’s lives; specifically, what it must be like to do the work they do. For example, in an earlier post, I talked about my new dermatologist. I can’t imagine doing what he does, looking at skin, and especially, examining and excising skin lesions all day. But he seemed very happy to do it.
Another example: working in a furniture store. I was thinking about this last weekend when my husband, John, and I were looking for a new dining room table. For me, furniture shopping ranks right up there with having a cavity filled or prepping for a colonoscopy. For us, furniture shopping entails hours of walking around, not remembering what I saw at the last store (much to John’s irritation), debating, and finally deciding on a piece, just so we can get out of there. Our last foray into the furniture shop yielded a couch which, like many of our furniture decisions, was just not quite right, resulting in a sofa that is more like a wooden bench when it comes to comfort.
Yet, it was time. Time to get that new dining room table.
As we entered the furniture store, the salesperson that approached us, in her oh-so-enthusiastic-how-can-I-help-you kind of way, was Laurie. She really was very nice and attentive. She did her job well, because in short order John and I picked out a table and chairs, and Laurie was writing it up.
Then she casually mentioned, “This is my last day of work here.”
What? Really? Why?
To which she responded, “I have always been in the restaurant business. It’s fast paced and always busy. Here, well, the people are nice, but it’s a lot of waiting around.” Shaking her head, she said, “I knew if I didn’t get out of here, I’d have to cut my arm off.”
She said that. Twice.
There was my answer: working in a furniture store is so boring, you’ll want to cut your arm off.
At first, I thought she meant the arm which was attached to the hand that was clenching a pen waiting for the next customer’s order. Then, after a few days, I realized that she meant she felt like an animal caught in one of those awful steel-jawed leg traps. It’s been said that some animals will chew their own paw off to escape.
Now there is a person who needed to get a new job.
After we got done discussing the “cut-off-her-arm” scenario, I happened to mention that the music they were playing in the store was just about the most annoying thing I had ever heard. I am not much of a music aficionado, but I do know annoying. This Muzak consisted of remakes of pop tunes. Sung more slowly. Or in a different key. Or a different rhythm. Always a different voice. Always annoying.
When I told Laurie how annoying the music was, I honestly thought she was going to hug me. Or break down in tears. Or just lay her head down on those still-intact arms. “Oh my God! Oh, I tell everyone that works here how awful the music is, and they don’t know what I’m talking about! I mean, the songs were awful in the first place, and then they make them even worse, if that is even possible!” I assured her that I could not work in a place that played such obnoxious music.
In fact, it got to the point where I could hardly wait to put our money down so we could escape.
But would I have gone so far as to say I was going to cut off my arm?
In my humble opinion, one of the funniest movies ever made, is “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” starring Steve Carell. If you haven’t seen it, you should. Anyway, one of the many hilarious scenes occurs early on. The main characters all work in a “Big Box” electronics store. Playing on each of the televisions lined up on a vast wall is a Michael McDonald DVD, looping over and over. In the movie, one of the employees, David, played by Paul Rudd, confronts the manager of the store played by a very dour Jane Lynch. After two years of hearing Michael McDonald sing the same songs repeatedly for eight hours a day, he says: “If I have to hear ‘Ya-Mo Be There’ one more time, I’m gonna Ya-Mo burn this place to the ground.” Watch a clip of the scene here if you don’t remember it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRdLWbOAUEY
The store manager tells David to get back to work. And I’m sure Laurie’s manager pretty much said the same thing.
So, Laurie is right to leave the boredom and the annoying music.
And I got my answer about what it must be like to work in a furniture store.
And we both got do it without losing any limbs.