In late August, certain events necessitated rather sudden changes in the way I make money. My first thought was, “I will become a freelance writer!” My second thought was, “Oh, but I know what happens to freelance writers?they write a lot for magazines that don’t always pay on time and then sometimes the magazines just disappear before they send out a check!” Then I realized I wasn’t qualified for all that much else, so in the end it wasn’t much of a choice. Fortunately, one of my other casual areas of expertise is that of junk food, so when a friend mentioned that the candy store she managed would need to hire someone for the always-busy Halloween-to-Christmas season, I took it as an opportunity to push my dwindling dental insurance to the limit, pull in some kind of tiny-but-steady income and attempt to reenact, on a thrice-weekly basis, this scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (sans rolling ladders and leering grins) (OK, sometimes I do enjoy a good leering grin):
The store is housed in an old post office building about six blocks from my apartment, and it’s totally charming. Little kids and parents and surly after-school teenagers parade in all the time, pressing their sticky faces to the glass cases and oohing and aahing and sometimes kind of groaning at all we have for sale. All the while we pipe in a constant stream of music from some kind of satellite radio doohickey tuned to one of a few stations pre-approved by the owners. I don’t know what the stations are called?there don’t seem to be any DJs involved, never any ID spots or anything?but the songs are generally a mix of mainstream-to-slightly-less-known pop from the past fifteen years or so, with a few older hits thrown in every once in a while. Sometimes a song will come on that we’ve never heard before and will never hear again, but most of the time the playlist is drawn from a pretty specific pool and, even after you’ve worked only a few shifts, you start to hear the same stuff over and over again. And over and over and over again. It can be a little maddening, but you either just deal with it or, y’know, you start trying to pair the songs up with what candy in the store they would be if they were candy.