Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Christmas memories, vol. 16

I like to sing. I always like to sing. I'm not great at it, but I get immeasurable amounts of joy from it. And there is nothing better to sing at the top of your lungs than a Christmas carol, unless maybe it's Nanci Griffith after a few glasses of wine.

I have no shame. Once December rolls around, I sing Christmas songs whenever I hear them, on the radio, on the sound system of a store, or even just in my head. Full voice. Doesn't matter where I am. Doesn't matter who is near me. It's Christmas, damn it, and it's time for singing. I always loved attending the midnight carol service at church, partly because you got to hold a candle in the dark, but mostly because you could sing really loud and harmonise any way you wanted and no one cared. It was delightful.

If you've ever done a holiday season in a mall store, you know that sometime in November they send you a tape that has about four hours of music in a loop. This means that in an eight to ten hour shift, you will hear each song a minimum of twice. Most of the year this sucks but you deal with it, because you have a library of three or four tapes to choose from and you can rotate them a bit. But from Thanksgiving to Christmas eve you are stuck with one tape, one rotation of songs, over and over and over ad nauseum. It drives the employees mad. People would be bitching by the Saturday of Thanksgiving, and by the first week of December they'd turn the music off the second we closed and straighten the store in silence, just to avoid the dulcet tones of more Andy Williams.

But not me. I would learn the tape end to end. By December 1st I could start singing the songs before the tape started playing them. I knew every word of every song, and would sing for eight hours straight (except when I was forced to hold a conversation). I'd walk through the store working on floorplans singing. I'd stand in the dressing rooms letting people into fitting rooms singing. I'd ring people up at the till singing. I was notorious.

By my third or fourth season, I had a following. Minneapolis has many malls, and I'd moved between three of them. Two were in relative proximity, and when word got out that the singing manager was stationed at Northtown, people drove a bit further to shop in my store because it was more fun. And by then, the whole staff had the bug, and so it was like the set of White Christmas in my store, so many people were bursting into song.

I wonder how they'll respond at Harvey Nicks on Saturday when I start singing in the perfume department?


Mnmom said...

I'm with you! I sing out loud every chance I get. I must say they pipe in great music to my favorite grocery store - originals from the 70's - and I sing right along. I love Andy Williams by the way, but the clips of his great Christmas specials won't embed into blogs. Shame.

madame_leiderhosen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
madame_leiderhosen said...

So, Miss Mindy: If you had to chose five: What would be your set list?

It's such a pity there's no audio to go with your story: I am dying to hear just a taste of what your store was like.

I don't much care for Christmas, but I am loving your series. More, please.

lulu said...

When I worked at Starbucks, they gave us 3-4 tapes to choose from, although I believe that most places now use some sort of dish or something and don't actually get the tapes. Anyway, my all time favorite Christmas song is one I found on the Starbucks tape. It's This Christmas by a band out of Zion Illinois.

(I have an irrational hatred for The Little Drummer Boy that stems from my years in retail)

Dale said...

There's a Lifetime movie somewhere in here.