This year, whether you’re preparing for Christmas, or Hanukah or you’re still just recovering from a particularly rambunctious Diwali, spare a thought for the poor unfortunates of the world.
No, no, I don’t mean the homeless and the poor. You’re supposed to be thinking of them anyway, and hopefully, doing something to help out. While you’re at it, however, consider:
The Poinsettia: Coddled all year in a nice warm greenhouse, given special food and water, spritz baths, and manicures. Then, on December 1, tossed on a smelly truck, dumped in the front of a store, and left to shiver in the freezing display racks. If a lucky “red,” purchased and used for a few weeks before being chucked out with the Christmas tree. If a “white” or “pink” or some other designer colour, left to shiver that much longer — until the reds are sold out.
Christmas Cake: Once a cherished tradition, now much maligned. This is thanks to a now-bankrupt bakery in Giggleswick, England that produced a huge but totally inedible batch of fruitcakes back in 1956. Many of these cakes are still in circulation, and are passed from person to person around the globe as “gifts.” The “Reclaim Christmas Baking Society” is attempting to collect these cakes and build a museum to bad baking, using the cakes themselves as bricks.
Radio and TV Announcers: Forced to say things like “Blu-Ray players make great stocking stuffers!” and “Buy your Dad his dream car this year!” without cracking up laughing. Forced to do everything in Christmas Cheer Voice.
Retail Store Clerks: Also known as “associates” and “representatives,” these poor souls have it particularly rough. Not only do they have to provide service at a rate of 452 customers per minute, they have to do so with a smile — even if the bratty three-year-old has just wrecked the stack of Barbie dolls that took an hour to assemble.
Retail Store Cashiers: Even worse than being a clerk is being a cashier. The checkout area is where store managers locate all the “novelties,” like the Singing Fish, the Dancing Hamster, and the Talking Santa. These toys are activated 1567 times a day in extreme cases. Recent studies show that the only people who actually buy these toys are the cashiers themselves, so they can take them out to the parking lot after work and run over them repeatedly with shopping carts.
Department Store Photographers: Ranked the second worst job to have in the retail sector (right after in-store janitor), photographers must hate this time of year. This is because every parent thinks that Christmas is the perfect time of year to buy that set of 54 wallet-sized photos of their child. And how easy do you think it is to make a toddler smile when he’s just been whisked through the “Our Toy Selection is Huge!” display and told he can’t touch?
The Elves: Santa gets milk and cookies. The reindeer often get carrots. The elves get nada — they have to stay home at the North Pole, freezing their little elvish tushes off. They spend Christmas slumped over cups of lukewarm cocoa, exhausted by a full year’s toy-making labour, while the delivery team gets all the credit and glory.
So this year, take a moment or two to make things better for others. Buy a nice warm blanket for the local poinsettia display. Don’t push the “Press Me! I Sing!” button on the Scooby Doo Santa toy at the store. And leave a box of take-out food for Santa to take back to the elves. A nice, hot curry, perhaps.
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Copyright 2016 Chandra Clarke
Also published on Medium.