1 comment

Contemporary American Christmas

            The snow hit hard against her face as she lay on the asphalt of the parking lot of Kmart, making snow angels in the freshly dropped flakes; she and the other front-end managers were watching and filming each other on their phones, one by one, Andrew than cat than April. She is close to these here, besides her. They managed the entire store because they worked best with each other. This was the customer service desk managers, here with our most loyal friends; April sat back and watched them saying to her voices in her head, we smoke weed in the parking lot of Kmart; she somehow said it loud enough they all Hurd it on her expressions and just laughed again and again. April was a kindling spirit that lived by the motto “While in Rome-well-Rome.” As the storm blew the snow sideways, they could only read each other’s facial expressions as they laughed at one another’s thoughts. They had learned so much of each other in this; Being managers, they had the wildest experiences with customers. It was a fun time with April as the store manager.

April took it all in during the Christmas season,” I love the store Christmas sales, the cinnamon pine cones that gave out Christmas arrived feeling, the Christmas music, and decorating the Christmas trees.” She helped in every department when they needed it, and boy did they. But, for thought, “Was it professional of her to do such a thing, or was the snow that closed the entire town down an excellent reason to be silly and play?”

The other manager was well-spoken and was her best buddy; his name was Andrew. He was very well-groomed, more than her at times; he had plucked his eyebrows and kept a professional demeanor. Finally, April says, “Come on, your turn, give me the phone.” Laughing at her appearance, with fear in his eyes, he gives up the phone to make his snow angel. He slips, falls on his side then rolls into laughter. Cat joins in with Andrew, both taking in the cold flakes in their mouths and eyes. April struggled to help them both up I’l.l help up All three of them had a great time. Best memories anyone had in the shutdown of Kmart for four to eight hours. To this day, the recordings sets on each one of their Facebook of that good times!

The blizzard was blowing snow sideways now, tuning it to black ice that became cold to the touch when you slid on the snow street asphalt.

Not many came into the stores that night; the few that did come came to collect heat or some glimpse of humanity from people that worked there: the store had more than they had at the time. First, they got their phones charged. Then, April gave them hot cocoa and a snack from the Christmas candy collection. Finally, she spoke out loud, telling them, “All, a Mary Christmas and a happy new year!” handing the candy to each person in the store; it’s what Charles, the district manager, taught her. He would always think of the customer. First, he was an excellent manager, and that’s what made us a family.

The ladies were in the store shopping as they always did. We didn’t know their names, or maybe few did but mostly called them ladies. The ladies shop and drink wine out of their wine box; we had no issue with it. They loved to shop with wine, and we loved to watch them do it. There were many I didn’t know, but I treated them the way I would want to be treated if I was them. They were all stuck like a duck in the middle of a damn blizzard at Kmart. I welcomed them as they waited to get in touch with their families; I knew they were frantically waiting for them to call or come home. The blizzard hit so fast that no one ever knew when it would hit hard; at times, it just did nothing. Time will only tell with this adventurous family little town. They do have alerts for the phone, but they always say storm alert, and a high percentage is B.S.

One thing she enjoyed most was a little disaster; she was calm and had empathy during the right time; the blizzard would go only four hours long, then people one by one got picked up by their families who also got caught out in the blizzard, others drive home and some on a bicycle and some walked. Then the blizzard hit again; the snow was blowing hard.

“Snowball fight in the garden; all employees on deck, go now if you dare?” So they all ran and did just that.

Before she called out on the intercom, April had gone around prior and got the ok from the other store directors; the director was a wonderful human being, and she had a great understanding of how they went down to run a great family store. With her older values so awesome to watch, she had a chill side at times; she let us run it off in the garden. She sat and watched Andrew’s cat, April, and the other employees go at it; April showed no mercy with them; of course, growing up five boys, they were no match indeed. Watching each other was more on April’s mind; she was laughing more than throwing; one slipped fand ell on their passes, trying to throw a snowball. Laughing so hard it paralyzes the laughter deep inside her soul, laughter is all she can produce, but she breaks out it to help her buddy, “Hey Andrew, get up; as she aids him in getting up, pulling his clenched hand, “here you go a nicely packed snowball.’” Thanks, April and throws it in the face of another employee, who catches it with his eyeballs. Nonetheless, time flies while having fun, “bring it in,” says Sharlene, the chill manager, “Customers are coming into the store.” So they all took our places within the characters they got hired to be.

Finally, it was time to go home! So they all brought in the tills, their walk-talkies, and ear peace to the front desk as April counted out the final cash drawers. The front-end customer desk cashes checks, sends money orders, and receives them; actually, one still has about eight to ten grand in it, including statements that were cashed that day. They all rioted in their demeanor, wet and cold, all of the adrenaline left them, and they could now feel the chill setting into their bones. April is standing in front of the group, “Hey, I can not wait to be in my bed at home.” It’s pretty calmer now. The other workers left one by one. This includes dropping their bags in and counting them in an area behind the desk; April checks them out. “I’m the fastest at counting; I love numbers so much no one can break my attention from it; as she counts, the employee mark starts calling out numbers “one, five hundred, twenty,” and so on. APRIL grins and keeps counting, “you can’t catch me; I’m the gingerbread man. “try and try again, as u can’t catch me.” With the cash finally counted, she goes to the door to let all employees out. They all left, except her and the director, out of the small room with them trapped for twenty minutes. She hugs them goodbye but tells them to pray for traveling mercies, “to all a good night, as she locks the doors behind her.

Next, the bags of cash in her cart; it’s time to check out the bags on a form with two people as witnesses; they slowly drop each bag into the safe, then the clocking of the bars inside the mechanism became a thought inside of her head before they shut the lights off. Then it was on like donkey kong. Set the alarm, and run out of the store. Sharlene running fast as she could to the doors, “last one, there is a rotten egg;” of course, she won, but hey, the alarm will go off; you have one minute to go, or else the siren pops off, and the cops, fire department and the ambulance come. The dam sirens go off religiously once a month; it’s practical for some reason around here. Then finding your car to scrap windows off threw the blizzard is not fun!

Finally, they got to their car and headed home, sliding the entire way; why was it sliding; Well, because it was a dam blizzard. The closer up the hill to their home they got, the worse the snow came down sideways with hail—looking at other cars that had been abandoned, tucked away off the side of the road, the town looked like a zombie apocalypse in the making. They were sliding sideways while driving is enjoyable because you’re being blown off the road while holding the wheel sideways as you go. No one should have to do this to go home, so that tomorrow will be a day off for snow days.

The best time at Kmart was the nights no one came in or maybe the humanity that the world lacks at Walmart; at Kmart, we go over and above the customer’s needs to make the customer’s out family. We had fun times at Kmart and wouldn’t change it for the world! But, unfortunately, from 30 to now, the stores will never be the same as what we call a man-and-pop store.

It survived the company’s bankruptcy in 2002 and many chain-wide closures — but the arrival of Walmart in 2019 marked the end of Tehachapi’s Kmart. Charges, you are the best manager I have ever seen; you will be missed!

I miss you all.

10% of all the money I make from books goes to Domesticated Violence shelters.

Somer James

This is my first story written…

November 20, 2022 16:28

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

Wendy Kaminski
04:25 Nov 29, 2022

"mark starts calling out numbers “one, five hundred, twenty,” and so on. APRIL grins and keeps counting, “you can’t catch me; I’m the gingerbread man. " That made me chuckle... there's always one joker in the crew!


Show 0 replies
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.