On the Day After

I’m so glad I no longer work in a mall.

The day after Thanksgiving is, traditionally, the busiest shopping day of the year, the start of the Christmas shopping season.

The company wanted its stores in strip malls to open at seven.

I got to work at six, brought the registers up, and at 6:15 three guys pounded on the door. Could I open for them? I looked at them — I’d swear these were the barbarian hordes, the ones I’ve thought about needing a trebuchet to defend the River Neuse from their depredations, the unwashed masses who wouldn’t know a shower if it fell from the sky and smashed into them.

I’m a greedy bastard. The unwashed barbarians wanted to spend their money, wanted to give me their money. At 6:15 I unlocked the front door.

The sun hadn’t come up yet.

Business was very strong in the morning, and it falls on an arc, trailing off by afternoon. Managers were required to work twelve hours at a minimum. I stayed until seven.

The sun had gone down.

This is why I can no longer work in a mall — I’d miss the sun too much. A day like this, I wouldn’t have seen the sun at all — it would have been like living in a cave. The first Christmas in North Carolina I realized that the reason Christmas had depressed me in years past was that I never saw the sun, arriving at work as I did before the sun rose, calling it a day after sun had gone down. Working in a mall it’s like living in a state of perpetual night.

Working in a strip-center, as I do now, I have the wide open window looking out on the parking lot, where I can see my Beetle and smile. And see blue sky whenever I want.

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