A Christmas Contradiction
By Audrey W.
John Gage listened to the peaceful Christmas music playing over the public address system, wondering if he was one of only a few actually hearing it. Even his partner Roy DeSoto, a couple of steps ahead of him in the large toy store, seemed set on just getting out as he made his way toward the front of the building at a rather hurried pace.
The on-duty paramedics had gone to the store on their way back to Station 51 after leaving a rescued victim in good care at Rampart General Hospital. Roy’s wife had assigned her husband the Santa present duty for their young son and daughter since the children would have no idea their dad had gone anywhere but to work. He was using current spare time to do just that.
“I’m sure glad they still had what the kids wanted,” Roy commented, his gaze on a Tonka tow truck and boxed baby doll in his arms, holding the items against his chest. “Last year Jo and I had to hit a few stores before finding Chris’s.”
“Uhm hmm,” Gage acknowledged, still distracted by his thoughts.
“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,” crooned Bing Crosby over the PA.
As they passed an aisle, two boys down it were fighting over a baseball mitt while another tapped the shelves rather hard with a baseball bat. Other children’s fits, pleas and cries could be heard from elsewhere within the store, some with adults just as unhappy verbally snapping back.
“Where the tree tops glisten . . .”
Another aisle passed, a supervisor firmly telling two employees, “Make it look picture perfect! I don’t care how busy we get, it’s all about upkeep, upkeep, upkeep! No one goes home today until this place is one hundred percent ready for tomorrow!”
“To hear sleigh bells in the snow. . .”
A cranky lady telling a friend, “Next year, no one gets anything. I am so tired of going out to buy the toy of the year, just to see it discarded three months later.”
It wasn't that everyone in the store seemed in a sour mood; he saw smiles on the faces of some shoppers and employees as they went about their business, but the other was certainly a noticeable portion.
“Hey, Roy. . .”
“Does somethin’ seem to be missing more so this year to you?”
Roy stopped and looked at his partner, a bit puzzled.
Just then two female hourly employees walked past them, one appearing a bit miserable.
“I just wanna go home and lay down,” she croaked. “My throat hurts so bad, I’m all achy.”
“What did Mr Martin say when you told him?” The other questioned.
The two young women were just past the uniformed men, but Johnny and Roy could still make out what was said.
“Are you insane? This is the Christmas season! There’s no going . . .”
The rest was a hoarse mumble as she was then too far away to hear.
“There seems to be a lack of a merry Christmas spirit these days,” Gage stated.
“I think it's just a trend with Christmas getting more and more commercial every year, and the dollar becoming the focal point of stores competing with one another.”
“Doesn’t it bother you?”
“Well, I'd like to say 'yes', but I think right now, one would say I'm a part of it.” Roy lifted his still folded arms slightly to indicate the items in his possession to make the point. "But, honestly, all anyone can do about it is their part to not let the 'merry' in Christmas wither away in it all, whatever that may take."
*The First Noel* began playing over the PA next, as the opposing atmosphere here and there within the store continued.
Gage shook his head as they once again started toward the front, knowing his partner was right. All he could really do about the trend was to make sure he wasn’t a part of it and perhaps turn it around for some in a small way.
He quietly hummed along with the music, then made sure to wish the cashier that waited on them a merry Christmas with a smile after Roy did the same.
This was inspired by working in retail for many years. This year especially stood out with the Christmas music and the atmosphere that didn’t fit with the tunes. I made sure not to accept extra hours this year, as I wanted a Christmas season and not to suddenly look around and wonder where it went. :o)
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