THE OLD NEW NORMAL, Chapter 4: “Help Wanted!”

By Liz McLeod

Again Your House Manager


“Whew!” I gusted as I flung my jacket in the general direction of a kitchen chair. “I need HELP!”

“Indeed,” observed Miss Carol T. Cat, gazing at my jacket as it overshot the chair and fluttered gently to the floor. “I have been aware for some time that you require considerable assistance with the basic functions of daily life. The uncouth condition of this sad shanty in which we dwell gives every indication that an intervention is necessary. Allow me to be the first to…”

“Not that kind of help,” I growled, rummaging inside the refrigerator for my customary slice of evening cheese. “I need help at the Strand!”

“As I have repeatedly advised you,” Miss Carol continued, her voice taking on just a slightly hectoring tone.

“Yeah, who is Hector, anyway,” I mumbled thru a mouthful of Kraft Single, “and why doesn’t he learn to watch his tone? I ask you. Oh wait, did I say that out loud? Sorry, it’s been a long day, and I need help.”

“AS I HAVE REPEATEDLY ADVISED YOU,” repeated Miss Carol, and this time Hector was gone, supplanted by Impatient J. Irritated. I know him pretty well too. “AS I HAVE REPEATEDLY ADVISED YOU, the installation of a qualified feline supervisor would do much to enhance theatre operations. Permit me to submit the name of a qualified candidate for this position.”

“I can’t hire a cat,” I protested, tossing the cellophane cheese wrapper in the general direction of the garbage can. Miss Carol observed as this too fluttered gently to the floor, and her frown deepened. “The Board of Health has a thing about that. I got nothing to do with it, go fight them. No, a cat won’t solve my problem, I need a person. Or two. We’re short staffed right now, and I need a couple more people to work the concession stand. Especially since we’re getting close to September, and that’s when we’re going to have a lot more demands on the operations crew. Live concerts will be coming back. The Camden International Film Festival is coming. And all sorts of other stuff is on the horizon. And not that you’d know anything about this, but help is hard to get right now.”

Miss Carol gazed, in a marked manner, at her empty food bowl, and then fixed her bright green eyes upon me in accusation. I took the hint and deployed a bowl of Turkey with Giblet Gravy pate. Miss Carol had a toothache this week, and she prefers that her meals now receive a head start, and who am I to fail to meet her needs?

But as for the Strand needs, it’s like this. As we expand out our schedule I need at least one and possibly two new people to work the concession stand. That means learning how to operate the popcorn popper and soda fountain efficiently and safely, being able to carry supplies weighing up to 35 pounds up and down the stairs to and from the storeroom to the lobby, being able to move very fast and very accurately in filling orders from patrons, and being able to clean and maintain the concession area, the lobby, and the theatre auditorium, in accord with Covid-safe policies before, during, and after shows. It’ll usually run between 5 and 10 hours a week at $13 an hour, and you keep all your tips. Hours can start as early as 2pm and run as late as 9 PM at present, evenings and weekends required, but as we get into concerts, more hours will be available during those events. And we require that applicants be at least 17 years old so they can legally sell alcohol when we get back into doing concerts where beer and wine will be sold.  And we require reliability above all else – in show business “the show must go on” is the absolute rule, and everyone working in the theatre has a role to play in making that show happen, no matter if it’s a movie, a concert, an opera, or an educational feature. It’s a great setup for someone looking for a fun after-school job, or to build an employment history, or for someone who doesn’t like to work while sitting in a chair.

“Your recruiting pitch is irresistible,” declared Miss Carol, flicking a bit of pate to the floor, since she isn’t the one who has to bend over and clean it up, I’m just sayin’. “Were I in need of employment I should demand that you consider my application at once. But since I do not require employment at the present time, I shall permit this opportunity to be seized by one who no doubt would find it pleasant and beneficial. Altruism is a defining trait of we felids. Now, remove that debris from the floor at once, before it attracts flies.”

“Ridiculous fat barrel cat.”

Miss Carol scowled. “You will receive poor Glassdoor reviews with such an attitude. I suggest that you comply with my request immediately, thereby setting a positive example for your future hires.”

Like I said. I need help.

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