So last night I ran into Vons to grab some money from the ATM. (Turns out there is some sort of odd stigma of writing a check when you dont have any cash on you. Potential blog post coming soon.) So as I’m walking in I see an older, Grandpa-like aged man encouraging people to donate $10 to be able to buy a bag of food for the San Diego Food Bank. Most people are ignoring him, pretending to look the other way, or saying they dont have any money on them (Us San Diegan’s have become very good at saying no to panhandlers, it’s like this acquired skill that becomes really refined the longer you live here).
I get in line for the ATM and literally right behind me, in my ear, I hear what I think is this same, older, Grandpa-like aged man singing “My Girl”. Yep. “I guess. . you’d say. . what could make me feel this way. . My Girl”. And he sounds incredible! And what is it about that song that just makes you feel love? Well I obviously felt very strange because I felt like he may have been singing this to me. Turns out – he was. I turn around and there he is. Singing and dancing with the grocery bag of food right in front of me that he wants me to buy and then donate. I just stand there and stare. Not because he is making a fool of himself, or standing way too close to me. Definitely not because he is singing and dancing in public (I myself am a huge fan of that) – I stare because this man is SO damn happy!
I didn’t know such happiness could exist at 5 p.m. on a Thursday night at the almost end of a crazy work week (I kid I kid, but no really, I only feel that happy on Fridays after work).
And right before my eyes (yes I’m still waiting in line, it was a very long line) I hear something crazy come out of his mouth. As if I’m not already a bit surprised at the amount of holly and jolly this old creature feels around this Holiday time, but another Vons employee comes up to him and tells him to not sing so loudly, that he’s really “causing a scene”.
1. A scene? Really? Come on. He’s trying to get people’s attention to donate. I found it very creative (well, when he wasn’t singing in my ear I did. Not at that exact moment). 2. He sounded incredible! Like you could really tell this guy sang for a living, or on the side, or was in some sort of chorus. I mean he was really, really good.
As suspected, the happy Vons singer did not look pleased, in fact, he looked confused. And then he said this.
“I’m sorry. Since I have so much fun working here on my time off I thought it might get people in a better state of mind while they’re shopping if they hear music while walking in. I thought maybe it would bring them peace”.
Did he just say “time off”? Yep. He was nice, thoughtful AND retired (I’m really good at eavesdropping). You got it folks. He was working to be social. He was working to keep his mind sharp. He was working to stay happy – even though he financially didn’t have to.
And then I had this REALLY crazy thought on the way home – what if I was “volunteering” (so to speak) at my job? (Ok. No. No one in their right mind would volunteer where I work). But seriously – what would I feel like if I knew that I wasn’t relying on this job to pay my bills? And allow me to travel? And allow me to have fun in life? Would I be any different at work? More importantly, would I treat people differently?
Well I ended up donating. And before I left I heard that same former rude employee come back up to the guy and apologize and say,
“My boss is a jerk. He told me to say that. I think it’s cool you like coming to work and enjoy being here. Plus we’re getting a lot more donations because of what you’re doing”
“Like” coming to work? What a concept.
Maybe this old fart was really on to something.
I think it might be kind of neat, just for a day, to pretend that you’re a volunteer where you work. Because some how “volunteering” brings a sense of lightness to anything that requires work. It feels like you’re doing it for the greater good. To really make a difference – instead of being a slave to the man. I imagine myself saying “I volunteered today!” – feeling so accomplished, so proud. Instead of “I worked today”. So not the same.
So today at “work” I may try pretending I’m a rich, retired, old son of a b*tch who is only here because I want to be social and keep my mind sharp. Maybe that will make me feel happier at my old, stale desk.
If all else fails, maybe I’ll just break into song and dance.
And yes, I hummed the melody all the way home.