When I was in high school my friend Chad worked at a big-box electronics store down by the lake. He’d put on a shirt, tie, and giant clown-faced grin before selling bubble jet printers and floppy disks on Friday nights.
Since the rest of us were hopeless layabouts we’d aimlessly cruise around town sipping Slurpees before popping in to pick up Chad at the end of his shift. We’d show up a few minutes before closing, trade stinkeye with the manager, and then mindlessly flip through CDs and sit on the torn black leather couches watching neverending loops of Toy Story.
I still remember the terrible music that played over the sound system in that store. It was classical on a Casio keyboard peppered with in-house ads telling you to keep shopping. And they somehow wired this into their phone system too so if we called Chad and were put on hold we’d hear the same thing.
Whenever Chad punched out we’d all leave together and pass a new gang of shaggy, tired-eyed employees trudging in for the night shift. They were wearing torn jeans, carrying lunchboxes, and getting ready for a few hours of unpacking delivery trucks, stocking shelves, and buffing floors.
Now, these guys would feed an AC/DC or Metallica CD through the sound system and work all night headbanging while stocking shelves. Basically, since the systems were tied together it meant if you called the store at night looking for a friend you’d get pounding riffs of You Shook Me All Night Long or Enter Sandman while you were waiting.
Calling big box stores in the middle of the night isn’t common, but sometimes actually getting good hold music really does happen. Yes, it’s those rare moments during an annoying wait when the old fave chimes on out of nowhere. Sometimes that surprising song lifts your mood, sometimes it gives you a smile on a stressful day, and sometimes it transports you to another time or place, and sometimes it just feels