The smell of freedom was all around. Smiles widened pearly teeth, explosives were distributed to and fro to young and old – five year olds with a knack for flame, elderly with a talent for daring the insane. The Fourth of July is possibly one of the most memorable times of the year. The citizens of the United States join together in glorious unison to celebrate the start of it all with gun powder, bright lights and blindingly horrendous firework incidences that result in years of hearing therapy.
Therapy that I would never have the chance to attend and fireworks I would not get the chance to mess up because I had to work on the Fourth of July. Again. For the third year in a row.
Working on the holiday – any holiday really – is typically not one of the most pleasant moments you will have in your life. The people who come into your business are either rosy-cheeked from anticipation of getting to leave the store that has become your CAGE and torment to begin the holiday, or they are extremely cranky that they are wasting perfectly good celebratory time on you and your work. About 80 percent of those who come in? Not the rosy-cheeked type.
Then there’s the whole, you know, fact that barely anyone even comes INTO your workplace because they are all out having the time of their lives like they can only have once a year and you aren’t permitted to join in. So you just sit there, behind your desk, sitting in a chair made of iron, creaking the largest smile you can muster at a wall who you just named Wilber and has become your only friend in the eerie silence of the store. You try to find something to do. Think about what you can file – be a good employee, exceed expectations, et cetera, et cetera. Only once you do all the extra filing, all the extra highlighting and shelving, you are really in trouble because then there is literally nothing to do whatsoever behind the desk. Paperwork is done. The store is empty. And you are being paid to babysit four walls for another four hours with nothing to do.
I opted to learn how to juggle four balls at once while trying to stay wide and alert. The Fourth of July may not be one of the three holiday classics (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) but you don’t get to blow things up legally that often. I wanted to at least light a stink bomb, or throw one of those bubble bees. Instead, I mastered the art of tripping over juggling balls.
Even though I missed Independence Day, – even though I didn’t get to blow anything up, or hang out with any of my friends or family, or do something irresponsible in the name of our great country – it wasn’t all bad, strangely enough. Customers genuinely thanked me for working the holiday, giving them the chance to utilize facilities during the Fourth. Customers who were grumpy were relatively nice for grumps. And on my way back home, I saw the finale show in my hometown from the freeway, front and center. Working during a holiday isn’t always fun. Sometimes it’s miserable. But sometimes, if you aren’t too busy beating your head against your new friend Wilber…You realize how many people appreciate your willingness to give up your holiday to make theirs absolutely perfect.