Celebrating Independence (With Patriotism?)
I suppose in America, it is that time of year. The time to celebrate Independence, which we did not actually gain until much later. But since the Declaration of Independence was signed July 4, 1776, we’ll run with it.
In a way, this is probably my favorite spring/summer holiday. Not because it makes me feel terribly patriotic, even though I do make some attempt to support my country in spite of *cough* certain politics that seem to be a little too prevalent.
My reason for liking it, of course, is Fireworks.
There’s kind of a funny local-ish tradition that we have right around here, mostly because in the town that I live in the city and county laws regarding Fireworks are very lax. Which of course pleases us residents to no end. Inside the city it is legal to shoot off fireworks July 3rd, July 4th, and at New Years, and outside the city but within the county (This is the same sort of thing as thinking outside of the box but on top of the ball) it is perfectly legal to shoot of fireworks when and wherever you please. So that’s what we do.
This tradition gives rise to certain… economic somethings (And I’m sure there’s a more technical word for this than somethings, but I don’t want to attempt to think of it right now). By economic somethings, I mean that there are three or four or five firework stores in town that are open all year ’round. Which means that the local residents can buy fireworks to celebrate whatever they please. Which is always fun.
And then there are other people who help to contribute to the economic somethings, like the people from the next state over, where they do not have such lenient firework laws. We do sell fireworks that are legal there, it’s just that some people prefer the less legal ones. It’s kind of the equivalent of crossing the border to Mexico to buy drugs, except that there’s only a few Highway Patrolmen waiting for you to cross back over, not a whole crew of Immigration Control.
Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be something a little ironic about celebrating Patriotism by committing a crime.
Around the fourth of July, there is a sudden rise in business since everyone wants to blow up a few fireworks, and what better time to do it? Which means that the firework stores hire people to work for a few weeks (maybe up to a month) out of the year, and these people work as hard and as fast as they can to earn as much money as they can. This year, I happened to be one of these people.
When I started out, I was sure that this would be a terribly fun, exciting job. I was delighted for my first day of work. I was sure that I was going to make a thousand dollar sale all on my own in spite of being a cashier and not a salesperson. So I went to work for the first four hours.
I kid you not, literally nothing happened. One of my co-workers and I stood around, swept the floor, stood around some more, wandered around straightening products that had no need to be straightened, and in general became very bored.
Well, things may have become much more eventful since then. And I can’t say I’m sure which one I like more, having nothing to do, or having everything to do.
I discovered that in spite of the fact that I am selling explosives, some of which become illegal goods once they head about three miles west, this job is about as much fun as any other retail job.
Probably less so, since our boss seems to be a control freak, and an incompetent one at that. He sits around watching the security cameras to make sure that we’re working, which if it isn’t illegal, it’s at least unethical. And certainly just plain rude. And then in spite of the fact that he’s watching the store to make sure we’re working, he somehow fails to make sure that we’re stocked appropriately. It’s incredibly rude. Any respect for the man that I could have given him has been completely lost, and there is not much chance of regaining it.
And then there’s the thing where I told them that I was a morning person, and somehow I’ve been working a lot of closing shifts. Which wouldn’t be so bad if we closed at a reasonable time like every other kind of retail business. As it is, we close at midnight. I think I’m mostly just cranky now because all of my sleeping and eating patterns have been thrown off. Think Koala that is now nocturnal and deprived of Eucalyptus leaves.
But there are a few things I do like about this job. Two, to be exact.
The first: I love watching the people that come in. There are some very predictable reactions that can be expected when people come into a fireworks store.
My favorite is watching little boys (between the ages of 4 and 9, usually) who come in. I smile every time I watch their jaws drop because there’s so many big fireworks in the store. And all I can do is sit back and grin.
There’s another reaction that makes me sit back, nod sagely, and say “Yeah…” in contemplative tones. I swear, the first thing that all little boys go for is the rockets. Not highly explosive ones, or particularly bright colorful, fabulous ones. Just some rockets that shoot in the air and do a color break. Not the most fabulous of fireworks, but every boy heads straight for those at some point in the day.
And then there’s one reaction that I can’t ever quite pin down. Whenever I go to ask people if I can help them find anything (especially people of the college-age male population, which there are a lot of in a fireworks store), they always turn around, and when they see me there’s something in their expression that changes. Like a look of surprise or a softening of expression or something. I’m mostly not sure whether to be flattered or not. I can’t quite seem to decide whether they’re going,
“Wow. She’s not too bad looking. And she’s smiling at me.”
Or whether they’re going, “Oh my goodness. She’s short.”
The really fun part is that due to the geography of the region, one can guess that a lot of them are LDS, which means that I have several people who are constantly telling me to flirt with them. As if I’d know where to begin. So I stick with acting friendly.
What’s really fun is when there are the boys that come in that are probably still in high school (most likely around 15 or 16 years old at that) that suddenly get this dumbfounded expression on their faces when they see me. Once upon a time I would have been terribly flattered. Now I’m tired enough that I end up thinking, “Kid, I’m partway through my bachelor’s degree. Don’t even think about trying to ask for my number.”
The second: Watching to see what kind of people end up coming into the store.
There was the one guy who could have passed for a weird Australian from the Outback. He had the camouflage hat and pants, the big boots, the hair tied in a braid, the beard trimmed in such a way that whenever he smiles he looks demonic, and the huge knife strapped to one side. Yeah, turns out he was actually from Nevada.
There’s a certain variety of people who come in looking for fireworks then turn around and ask us where they can buy some beer. I really don’t want to know what drunk people shooting off fireworks can look like. It sounds a little bit… messy.
Then there was the cute young family who were trying to buy small fireworks because their daughter is terrified of things that explode or make noise. Like Fireworks. Turns out, she loves colored smoke balls.
There are the old guys who come in and want all the biggest baddest fireworks they can get so they can shoot them off for their families. They’re really fun to try to work with. And they’re a lot faster on their feet than you might expect too. I’m trying to take it kind of slow, and they’re going, “Yeah, okay, what else?” Which leaves me stuttering to a halt before I attempt to collect my wits and continue.
There are the Hispanics that come in, which means that every once in a while I make some vague attempt to speak Spanish to them. Which works some days and not so much other days. But it makes me feel superbly pleased with myself when it does work.
And then there was the one lady who works for a National Wildlife Refuge that I ended up giving my phone number to because they might have some job openings available. Which makes me very smiley and excited.
And then you get the histrionic women who come in and expect to get a ton of free stuff when they’ve only bought about fifteen dollars of fireworks. You really just end up wanting to slap them and yell, “Lady, I am NOT giving you artillery shells that are worth 120 dollars for free! I already gave you free stuff, now would you stop holding up the line?”
You know, maybe it’s really not that bad of a job…
Who am I kidding? Thank goodness I only have eight hours left to work before I’m finished!!!!!