Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Story from my Second Job

I spent a couple of blogs talking about the process of working at a grocery store, but I think stories are far more interesting than explanations. So, I'm going to tell you about the time the store's muzak brought me back from the brink of despair.
If you're lucky, most of the time you don't even notice the music playing at your grocery store. It's specifically designed to be inoffensive background noise that you can tune out when needed, especially if you're only going to be there for a few minutes to grab a few things.

Workers in grocery stores don't have that luxury, though. When you're working alone on an aisle your brain begins desperately searching for input while your body performs its mindless tasks. Soon, the music sounds very loud to you, and over the course of months you start to memorize the playlists and get very, very tired of every single song. That annoyance turns to madness around the holidays, but that's a different story altogether.

I was still employed at Rouse's in my senior year of high school when I started hanging out with this girl I knew through some of my friends. One day I stopped to get gas somewhere and discovered that this girl worked at that gas station. We chatted for a while and, eventually, I started visiting that gas station on my lunch breaks. After some time and another long story filled with rivals and awkward encounters, we started dating sometime in early 2004.

I was thrilled.

Then, one day, this girl asked that we spend some time apart. I was confused, but didn't want to argue. So, I obeyed. A couple of days later, while walking around the mall with a friend, I saw that girl walking around with a guy I didn't know. We saw each other, she came over... and to be honest, I don't remember what I said or did. I guess I just nodded and smiled, then parted ways.

I left the mall soon afterward, and my friend was worried about me. I was worried about me, too. I don't know how many confused, desperate text messages I sent to her that night, but suffice to say that they were to no avail. I left her alone after that, then fell into the longest depression I can remember.

I was working on my aisle a week later, focused completely on my work, with no interest in enjoying life. For what it's worth, I'm a very efficient worker when I'm depressed. If I seem to be a robot normally, you should see me when I'm working to take my mind off of things. I'm way, way too busy distracting myself to be distracted by other things.

I don't know if you've ever heard the song Let's Groove Tonight by Earth, Wind, and Fire. I was primarily familiar with it as a relatively slow, easy song you can play in DDR. I had certainly never heard it on the PA system at Rouse's before.

It happened very suddenly, though. There I was, wallowing in depression, when suddenly this song starts playing. I immediately recognize the song and, soon, I was singing along and boogieing down the aisle to the music. I didn't care if anyone else saw me. It was a celebration, because I knew even before the song ended that my depression was over. The spell was broken, and my heart was mended. I was back to myself again.

Music is incredible, isn't it?

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