Sometimes the muzak can make you dance. And buy more stuff. And not for the right reasons. After the Kids Leave rocks on.
So there I was, shopping at a certain well-known large national drugstore chain on a Thursday. As one does.
As I made my way to the vitamin section to pick up some MegaVitalitySuperDooper Fruit Sensation Chewable Vitamins for Adults Over 50, I noticed that they were playing California Dreamin’ on the in-store music system.
Cool! thought I, remembering that I used to like harmonizing to that one when I was in choir at school. I started humming a half-remembered harmony under my breath.
As I wandered around picking up various drug-store essentials, like that particular brand of mascara I use, and the face cream that doesn’t give my daily spritz of cologne a run for its money, the music switched to Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, by Crosby Stills Nash & Young. (Side note: this is the song my husband Mitchell and I listened to over and over during our early courtship back in 1977…and we still exchange glances whenever it comes on.)
Yay! Now I could sing and dance, and enjoy happy memories from long ago. Bonus!
I had moseyed on around to the grocery aisle, and was just thinking about how in our day, drugstores didn’t sell groceries, and grocery stores didn’t sell kitchenwares and clothing, when CSNY gave way to Aretha’s Think. Oh, bliss!
Do you have any idea how hard it is to dance properly when your arms are loaded down with MegaVitalitySuperDooper Fruit Sensation Chewables for Adults Over 50, a giant 30-pack of toilet paper, 16 protein bars (on sale, so I stocked up), two packages of mascara, a jar of unscented face cream, and two bottles of Diet Dr. Pepper?
And before you ask, no, I didn’t bother getting a basket when I came in, because I thought I only needed a “few things.”
Anyway, despite my overburdened arms, I was having a delightful time—the music made me grin like a maniac, in addition to inspiring an extremely hip and happening song and dance routine as I made my way toward the cash register.
The kid behind the counter must have been in training, because the lineup was ultra-long and ultra-slow. It took about 15 minutes of juggling my armload of soon-to-be-purchased stuff before I finally saw the bloodshots of his teen-aged eyes, but I didn’t really mind, because while I waited, the store music just kept getting better.
My Generation. Up on Cripple Creek. Son of a Preacher Man. Cool Jerk.
I noticed that several of my fellow waiters-in-line were mouthing the words as we stood there waiting for Captain Slowpants to ring everything through at a glacial pace.
By the time I got to the cash, my arms were aching, but I had a joyful heart. I smiled at Captain Slowpants, who looked as though he might fall asleep from boredom at any moment.
“I like the music the store’s playing today,” I said cheerily, hoping that if I woke him up, he might actually condescend to ring my stuff through.
“Wha– ?” He clearly wasn’t accustomed to human conversation, so I repeated my comment. “Oh. That.” He looked around, as though he’d just realized there was music playing. He shrugged. “It’s Thursday.”
“All day,” I agreed. “They always play this stuff on Thursdays?”
“Yuh.” He rang through the toilet paper, with a look that said, “This is causing me physical pain.”
“Interesting,” I said. “I guess that’s a good day to shop, then.”
“Yuh.” Long pause. “It’s Seniors Day. That’s why they play all the old-people music. Old people like that stuff, and it makes them buy more.”
Seniors Day? Old-people music?
Listen up, sonny boy—that’s some fine classic rock coming over the loudspeaker in your establishment, and it’s not my fault you don’t appreciate it. (Okay, I didn’t say this, but I thought it very loudly.)
And yet suddenly, Sitting on the Dock of the Bay didn’t sound so great to me any more. Not when it was being used to manipulate me into spending more time in the store, and thus spending more money.
I paid for my purchases, declined Captain Slowpants’ offer of plastic bags, and booted it for the car as fast as my senior legs would take me.
And that is why I now avoid a certain national drugstore chain on Thursdays. Because it’s one thing to court our generation with the music of our youth. It’s quite another to use Otis or Aretha or CSNY to lull us into a consumerist stupor to make us happy little shoppers who spend tons of moolah while we dance to the music.
That’s just sacrilege, in my book.