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A Modest Proposal
8.26.2002 by Dan, every Monday.

Ever since I’ve started writing for Tangmonkey, I’ve picked up a bit of a cult following. No matter where I went, they were always right behind me, with shaved heads and black robes. It turned out they thought I was the reincarnation of Chevy Chase. I tried to explain to them that only Mr. Chase's career is dead, and that that is not enough to cause someone to be reincarnated, but they wouldn't listen. Fortunately, we were at the mall, and I was able to take them to a Cinnabon, where Mr. Chase waited on them, resulting in a good laugh for all. Then they tried to sacrifice me to their goat-god, Zaldabu.

Now, all this got me thinking about my own time working at the mall. Why, it seems only yesterday that I worked at a small game store in the mall, earning up to $5.75 an hour telling people things like:

“Yes, this copy of Monopoly is quite expensive.”

“Yes, I'm quite sure that the Wal-Mart across the highway has it for less.”

“No, I don't know why you keep coming here.”

“See you at home, Mom.”

I think that retail workers can be some of the most grossly underpaid people on the planet, right behind emergency workers, teachers, and Major League Baseball players. It is an increasingly common sight on the sports page to see where some star player has starved to death because the greedy team owners won't pay them more than $4 million per year. It's a crime.

And while retail workers don't starve quite as often as your average professional baseball player, they still can have it rough. And by “retail workers,” I mean retail employees that actually do work, and not the lazy fools who stand behind the counter talking on the phone all day, and act as though you are making unwelcome sexual advances whenever you ask to be rang up. No, the actual workers need to get paid on the order of at least a three-digit figure per hour, and for one very good reason: they have to put up with customers.

Now, it isn't quite so bad in March, when nothing's going on. But once November rolls around, it's a very different story, for it's then that The Joy Of The Holidays™ turns otherwise normal people into Charles Mansons of capitalism, getting into knife fights over parking places and setting fire to stores sold out of this year's holiday product. Many retail workers are crushed, maimed, scorched, and occasionally vaporized, and those are just the gas station attendants. If you have a tank with armor thick enough to make it into a mall, it's much worse:

Consumer: Excuse me, but do you have this in a 42 long?

Clerk: I'm sorry, but this is a music store. I guess all the blood makes it hard to tell.

Consumer: Insolent fool! How dare you mock me!! (Pulls out flame thrower)

Clerk: Grandma! NOOOO!!

Consumer: FOOOOOOSH!

Clerk: AIEEEE!

Consumer: Accept this sacrifice, Tiamat, god of Chaos, and grant me a better parking spot!

Tiamat: Just what I need. Another retail clerk.

So as you can see, the hazards of being a retail clerk are great indeed, and the average medical plan requires hours of paperwork to grant coverage for losing one's soul to an ancient god of chaos.

So really, the only good accomplished by all this is ridding the world of some teenagers, and even then it’s culling the better ones who try to get jobs, and not the kind that get so many piercing that they disrupt electronic equipment wherever they go. Perhaps setting things up to where teenaged children of rich kids have to spend time in the retail trenches before Daddy gets them a new BMW would make things better for our society as a whole. In fact, I personally think that any system wherein spoiled rich kids were killed, maimed, or psychologically scarred by harried moms and overstressed cult members doing holiday shopping would not only help to restore balance to the service industry, but would make the greatest reality TV series ever.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Zaldabu needs me to drive him to the mall.

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