Opinion: Lessons from the karaoke store


Bruno Beidacki.

Bruno Beidacki

For the summer, I got a job at a karaoke store. We sell mixers, amplifiers, stereos, and microphones — but nothing brings more revenue than our karaoke system sales. It’s a weird and unique job at a weird and unique store, one that I didn’t imagine still existed until it became mine.

Of course, it’s just a seasonal job for me. Part-time work a few days a week for three months.

Then I’m out and will probably never set foot in a store like that again. Not that I don’t like that place; much to the contrary, it’s a lot more interesting than you’d think. I’m just not the sort of person who’d walk into a store to purchase a karaoke machine.

For others who work there, however, it’s their lives. They have been working there for years, and will continue to do so until their bodies are too tired to move boxes around, or until their minds are not clear enough to give convincing sales pitches. Well, or until the karaoke industry dies, but that’s beside the point.

Some of them love their jobs, living for the excitement of unboxing and testing a new set of speakers. Others barely tolerate it. Regardless of how they feel, though, that’s their lives. Day in, day out, that’s what they live for — at least professionally.

It’s fascinating to think that some passing, temporary thing in one’s life is a long-term, permanent part of someone else’s. To me, that store might be the source of extra cash to pay for my car insurance and way-too-frequent coffee runs. But for Chuck, that store is one of the reasons — good or bad — that he wakes up every morning.

That’s something to take into consideration when we mindlessly go through our days, interacting with people in all different scopes of mundane life. From the bakery where we get our bread, to the USPS store we ship our RSVPs to that California wedding we’re looking forward to, there are people there whose careers revolve around those places.

And for us, who are or were fortunate enough to attend college and earn higher education degrees, this is a wake-up call. A wake-up call that should help us realize that those people, who seem like secondary characters or even simply extras in our lives, are actually the protagonists of their own. They are also human beings with complicated family dynamics, personal struggles, passions and hobbies. They too have dreams, and aspirations, and bucket lists.

If anything, it should be a wake up call for niceness. It doesn’t take much to be polite, to say thank you or please. To hold the door open for an employee carrying a large box, or pile up your plates to make the waitress’s job a little easier.

It’s easy to be caught up in our own universe, with this perspective that we are the sun and that every planet orbits around us. But we’re not.

Each one of us is a single grain of sand in an endless beach. The good news is that this beach is comprised of nothing but a multitude of grains of sand.

Still, the sun is far away.