I don’t necessarily hate it, but it’s annoying: the customer that comes up to the register with their earbuds on and completely ignores me when I say hi or ask if they need bags. It’s kind of rude, to be honest. [And yes, I will admit I was that same person back in my college years.] On the other hand, I am a bit curious as to what they’re listening to. I want to say it’s most likely a podcast or an audiobook, as those tend to be the most popular non-music thing people listen to with headphones. Still…at least pop one of those buds out so you can hear me, yeah?
Anyway…I’m trying to think of the last time I listened to music with headphones, and I’m pretty sure it was our flight to and from New England last year. We haven’t gone to the gym in months (although we have that on our 2023 resolution lists…), and I’m not counting the brief sessions in which I wanted to hear a new release in uninterrupted detail like the Revolver reissue. It’s been quite some time, really.
I mean, I could do what I used to do back in my high school days and listen to my mp3 player on the way to and from work (all of ten minutes) and during breaks, but again…kind of rude to anyone else that comes through the break room and I’m not up for that kind of short-session listening just yet. Maybe at a later time.
Still…I’ve been thinking about how to adjust my listening habits lately, and it’s a lot more to think about than I realize. Not just about headphones, but what I’m listening to (I mean, other than KEXP in the morning when I have a midshift). I’ve talked about missing out on listening deep-dives and connecting with music in general lately and wanting to fix that. And there is of course the fact that I’m about to embark on a Huge Writing Project that will demand a soundtrack mixtape or five.
I’m curious as to what will change in the coming months, if anything. Or if I’ll return to old habits that work. We shall see…
Most piped-in music at retail stores are feed subscriptions of mostly innocuous pop tunes that are enjoyable but not anything that’ll distract you from your shopping moods. (I say ‘most’ because our local Trader Joe’s seems to have cornered the Gen-X mood of 80s alt-rock faves and cool retro stuff instead.) At my store I can easily file our feed into three distinct formats: –early 80s MTV (Thomas Dolby, Men Without Hats, Tears for Fears, etc.) –mid 90s alternapop (Deep Blue Something, Dishwalla, Vertical Horizon, etc.) –adult pop from about 5 years ago (Kelly Clarkson and so on)
The other day however, I heard this one song that I hadn’t recognized and pulled out the Shazam app. It happened to be the new(ish) 5 Seconds of Summer song I posted above, and thus the surprise: I was so used to hearing the same music loops day in and day out that hearing a new song was quite unexpected. I kinda like it, too! Just goes to show that the subscription feed we have does actually get updated now and again.
It reminded me of one of my other retail jobs, at the Longwood Coop in Brookline, where the loops were actually sent to us in this huge plastic cart that looked like a mutant cross between a laserdisc case and a radio station cartridge, and carried a couple dozen songs. Each cart had a different musical mood, and, you guessed it, I’d try to sneak on the one that had the weird alternative songs, one of which was a New Fast Automatic Daffodils track that I’m sure no one in the store had ever heard of. And during my HMV days, we had a set collection of promos we’d play in store, but on days where I was floor manager I’d throw on some wildly obscure imports instead.
Sure, I don’t have any say in what gets played at this job, but I’m not going to complain about it. Most of it’s enjoyable, and mostly already in my mp3 collection anyway. But it is fun to have that occasional surprise song that trips me up!
Getting a job during the pandemic has been an interesting job in itself, to be honest. I know I’m not the only one looking for remote work, and I know I’m not the only one who’s getting up there in years looking for work, either. And in the meantime, I’ve been honing my creative skills to open up that market just a little bit more.
I’ve been getting the occasional employment agency reaching out to me, whether by email or by phone, to offer various positions. Some of them have been tempting but not in the direction I want to go…and some have been a hard pass (I’m looking at you, “the hours would be 7PM to 6AM PST”). And some have been tempting but end in “we’ve chosen someone with a bit more experience”.
Still — it does feel good to get a positive connection and potential position every now and again.
Long story short: I have given my two weeks at the current Day Job. Let’s just say that it wasn’t entirely on peaceful terms. I’ve talked about it a bit on my social media channels, and there’s a chance I may write something about it for a Medium article in the next week or so to go into more detail.