Welcome to Super-Short Storytime, Dear Listeners! I am Eduardo Soliz, the author and narrator of the splendidly short story that you are about to hear.
My unhappiness towards my nine-to-five (and my willingness to share it) has gotten to the point where it has become a character trait over the years. But I’m not here to tell how you about much I hate my job. Instead, let me tell you a story about a guy that does enjoy his work. This work-related writing is called: “The Best Job In The World“
A middle-aged man wearing black slacks and a white button-down shirt stood in front of a row of vending machines. He wore an identification card that bore the logo of the Prehistoric World theme park and “Bernard Olson, Accounting” in bold letters underneath that. Bernard idly jingled some change in his right hand while he looked from one machine to the next, carefully considering his options.
“Hey buddy, could you give me a hand, here?” A man’s voice said to his right. Bernard turned to answer and quickly jumped back upon seeing a six and a half foot tall mountain lion standing next to him. His shock quickly turned to relief when he realized that it was a person wearing a costume.
“Oh! You frightened me. ” Bernard said. Bernard hummed to himself as he looked for an identification card on his costumed coworker, who wore a T-shirt with the name “Pappy Puma” on it. Bernard was fairly certain that wasn’t his real name.
After a moment, the mountain lion noticed his confusion and said: “Oh! Sorry about that. I’m Jay.”
“My name is Bernard,” Bernard said quietly. He gingerly shook the large paw that Jay offered.
Jay continued: “If you could help me out, that would be awesome, Bernard. My usual helper is in the infirmary. She’s new to the area and hasn’t gotten used to our wonderful Texas summers yet.”
Bernard nervously looked around to see if there was anyone else nearby that could help in his place.
“Come on, man. I ain’t gonna bite you.” Jay pleaded.
Bernard sighed. “Okay. What do you need me to do?” He asked.
“Help me get this head off. Go around me and unzip the zipper that’s at the back of my neck.” Jay said. He dropped to one knee so that Bernard could more easily reach it.
“Okay.” Bernard said. He walked over behind Jay, and looked at the back of his head. He saw a seam running down the back and followed it to its end, where he saw a zipper’s metal tab sticking out. He grabbed the zipper and slowly pulled it up. Before Bernard had the zipper opened completely, Jay reached up and pulled the mask forward to remove it.
“Whew. That’s better.” Jay said, relieved. Bernard walked around to face him and stared for a moment. Jay was wearing a tight-fitting hood on his head made out of some synthetic material. Only his face, which was red from the heat, was exposed. Jay took the head off and carefully placed it on the floor next to his gym bag.
“What’s that thing on your head?” Bernard asked, motioning at his head with his hands.
Jay looked at him for a moment before realizing what he was referring to. “Oh, the hood? It’s to keep sweat from getting into my eyes and stuff. I’m wearing underclothes made out of the same material, but it can only do so much, you know?”
Bernard nodded in acknowledgement.
“Could you help me get one of these paws off?” Jay asked. “They’re held on by some snaps that are underneath the seam. I could use my teeth, but the folks in the costume department wouldn’t appreciate that.” He extended his right arm towards Bernard, who removed the paw and examined it. Meanwhile, Jay used his now-free hand to remove the other paw and set it on top of his costume’s head.
Bernard peered inside of the paw and quickly drew his face back when he noticed the moisture and the smell coming from it. “Goodness, that’s a lot of sweat.” He observed.
“Yup. Such is the price of fame.” Jay quipped. He was hunched over his gym bag searching inside for something.
“It looks like you have a difficult job, having to wear this all day.” Bernard pondered. “I don’t think that I could do it.” He bent over and carefully placed the costume hand atop of the other one.
“The positives ultimately outweigh the negatives, my friend.” Jay said. He pulled a wallet out of the gym bag, opened it, took out a few bills, then dropped it back into the bag. He stood up, walked over to one of the vending machines and bought a sports drink.
“What positives?” Bernard asked. “You walk around outside in that heavy suit all day, get pushed, kicked and well, abused by children, and I can’t imagine that you get paid very well. No offense intended.”
“None taken.” Jay replied before taking a swig of his drink. “And yeah, all of what you said is true. Those are the negatives. So let me give you some positives: It’s fun to interact with the kids. As far as they’re concerned, I really am a big cat. I get to snarl and meow and purr and be silly and goofy. Sure, some of them will push and kick and shove and cry, but they always walk away happy, and that makes me happy, too.
You know what most people make at their jobs, Bernard? Money. That’s it. Nothing else. Do we need it? Of course we do, that’s the world we live in. But there’s nothing really unique about money. A smart man once sang that ‘money talks, but it don’t sing and dance and it don’t walk.’ Money isn’t special. It’s as common as the dirt on the ground. Just because other folks have more doesn’t make it any less true.
But the smile on a child’s face, the laughter of parents and grandparents as they take a picture, even the dumb giggling coming out of a bunch of nutty college kids. Those things are special. Those are the things that people remember. Sure, lots of other people might make more money than I do, but I make memories. I have the best job in the world because my job is to make people happy.”
“Wow. I never thought of it like that.” Bernard said, surprised. His tone became sad as he continued: “It certainly sounds more enjoyable than my job. I just sit at a desk all day and crunch numbers.”
“Yeah, but your job is important, too, Bernard. If you don’t crunch all those numbers, we don’t get paid, right?” Jay said with a smile. “Sorry for rambling like that, Bernard. I guess I’ll head over to the locker room and get out of this suit.”
“Oh, so your day is over?” Bernard asked.
“Without a handler, it is.” Jay explained. “The costume head severely limits my vision, so I have to have a handler nearby to help me get around, keep an eye out for kids and to make sure that we don’t stay outside for too long, but unless Angela gets out of the infirmary soon, I’m done for the day.”
“Now that’s unfortunate.” Bernard said. He checked his watch. “There are still several hours until the park closes.”
“Well, them’s the breaks.” Jay mused. He started to gather his things together. “It’s been good talking to you, man. Thanks for the assist.”
“Wait a second. What if I was your handler?” Bernard asked.
“Huh. I’d appreciate the assist, but won’t you get in trouble?” asked Jay.
“It’ll be okay. Besides, I can always make more money tomorrow.” Bernard said.
“That’s the spirit! Come on, Bernie, let’s go make some memories!” Jay exclaimed. With smiles on their faces and springs in their steps, the pair headed off to ‘work.’
It may be cliche to say that “money isn’t everything,‘ Dear Listeners, but that doesn’t make it any less true for some folks. Personally, I would love to have a job where I make something besides money, but for now, money will have to do. This has been Super-Short Storytime! If you’d like me to tell your story, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for listening! Be Good, Take Care, and God Bless.