The ancient Maya looked into the stars and predicted catastrophic changes to the earth, all pegged to the end date of an historical cycle on one of their calendars, Dec. 21, 2012.
–The New York Times
Setting: Store Manager’s meeting, On-The-Mark Retail Outlet, Ottumwa, Iowa
First off, I wanted to surprise everyone with new On-The-Mark red polo shirts, but there was a misunderstanding with Headquarters so all we have are extra-smalls. However, we did get three or four more shirts than we need, and I brought some scissors and sewing gear, so, if we cut up the extras, hopefully we’ll all be able to piece together a shirt that fits. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the typographical error On-the-Murk.
All right, with that out of the way, let’s dive right in. As you know, I like to use these all-staff meetings as a time to reveal our new theme for the quarter, such as “Quality” or “Relating to the Customer.” This quarter’s theme is a little different – “Just in Case.”
You might be wondering, why a theme of “Just in Case”? Well, last week, when I got back from my medical leave, I watched the “2012″ DVD promo playing on our flat screens in Electronics. And, as some of you know, I’ve been suffering from insomnia after my “meltdown” (as local newspapers unfairly called it) over the one-for the-price-of-two fiasco last Holiday season. So I’ve had plenty of time to conduct late-night Internet research on the End Times, and now I’m back and have recently decided to stop taking all those pills. Anyway, just in case the prophecies come to fruition, we’ll need to make some adjustments.
To get the ball rolling, I have stamped all non-perishable food items, dinnerware, craft supplies, books and pretty much everything else with an expiration date of December 21, 2012. Why? Just in case. Just in case what? Well, I certainly don’t want to deal with a post-apocalyptic nomad warrior who has a valid complaint about a vaporized Tupperware set. Do you, if you survive?
I’ve also done some re-prioritizing of our inventory. In a world without electricity, nomad warriors are going to need light. What could we carry that would give off light, rhymes with “porch” but isn’t as pleasant to sit on? Any guesses? No? A torch! Aisle F1, as of next Thursday, will no longer be vacuum cleaners – it will be Torches and Torch Accessories. I’m not sure what the accessories will be. Maybe torch koozies.
Now, It would be wonderful to imagine a customer base of only nomad warriors, but just in case there are mutants, we have to be sensitive. That’s why we will be frosting the mirrors in the fitting rooms. Looking at your reflection, which would you rather see: a nasty mutant or a blurry, possibly sexy silhouette? I have also asked headquarters for some three-sleeved shirts and eight-fingered gloves. Why? That’s right–just in case!
Also effective December 21st, 2012, we will no longer be the On-The-Mark Sales Team – we will be the On-The-Mark Sales Tribe. Rival businesses will be rival tribes, and if you work nights, you may be recruited for raiding/pillaging duties. Lawn Care will be Bushwhacking and Nature Control, Sporting Equipment and Cutlery will be combined for our new Survival Department, and Bedding and Furniture will become a Museum Of Comforts We Are No Longer Afforded. We’ll call our Stockroom the Conjuring Circle, to inspire the belief in our customers that we practice the dark arts. This should cut down on shoplifting.
To inspire awe and respect in any Visiting Chiefs, I will be taking the most attractive female employee as my bride, but not in “until death do us part” way. This will be a new Bride of the Month Program because of the need for as much genetic variegation as possible. Perks will include employee discounts for friends and family (if you have any left) and an invitation to join me me in the break room –which will be renamed the Chief’s Royal Chambers. But ladies, no stampedes to Cosmetics to doll yourselves up–the shelves are empty, anyway, in readiness for the sharp tribal-scarring instruments and quart-size eye black on order.
Right now, it’s time to get started on our team-building activity. Spoiler alert: It may involve hot lava.
Sean Adams lives in the Midwest. His humor has been featured on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and Dislocate.org, where he writes a column as Landrew Kentmore.