You want to talk about a phrase having a whole new meaning in 2020 - there you have it.
Once upon a time, I worked at WalMart. Not only that, but I worked at a WalMart located in North Idaho. If you like the great outdoors and nice scenery, North Idaho could be a place you like. Some celebrities have even bought beautiful homes out there to quietly escape to when they need beauty, peace, and solace.
But this is not that story. I wasn't a wealthy, private individual living a quiet life in North Idaho. I was a teenage kid getting paid $5.15 an hour to work in an environment I didn't understand.
For one, I had multiple bosses. If you've ever seen Office Space, you might understand how confusing things can get when you need something from a higher-up.
Me: "Hey I need to submit a vacation request"
Assistant Manager 1: "Go talk to Assistant Manager 2 about that"
5 minutes later
Me: "Hey Assistant Mananger 1 sent me to talk to you about submitting a vacation request"
Assistant Manager 2: "Go talk to Assistant Manager 3 about that'
Justin, if you're reading this, I appreciate how good of a person you were. I was sitting by myself on my lunch break one day and you sat down next to me just to see how I was doing, and you were very, very kind. Your genuine interest in other people is something that stuck with me. I will never forget such a seemingly small act of decency. In a place where I definitely felt out of sorts, you were a good person. I hope you've lead a rewarding, happy, and fulfilling life in the meantime.
I would also frequently dream that I was at work. So really, for that time and effort, I wasn't even making 5 bucks an hour - more like $2.50 with all the extra time I put into it all in dreamland.
So was it worth it? Monetarily?
If that job taught me anything, it was to appreciate where I am now. I've (kind of) grown up, the medical field feels like a good fit for who I am, as does voiceover. And I have room in my life for both. Appreciate what you learn from your past!
I also learned what Black Friday was at that job.
I was asked to work some extra hours the morning after Thanksgiving, as they expected higher than normal customer volumes. Me, being young and naive to what exactly Black Friday was, shrugged and thought, "Sure, I could a few extra bucks!"
Show up before dawn I was told. That's not eerie.
So the next morning, I dragged my teenage butt out of bed, stumbled through my morning routine, and scuttled my way to WalMart only to discover what at a glance appeared to be a mildly agitated mob of zombie-looking figures crammed around the entrance, seemingly eager to feed.
"Wow, must be some good deals today" I pondered.
Then came the matter of getting inside. I had to squeeze through the people - who felt the need to berate me for making them wait outside in the cold on such an icy morning. More confusion on my part. I just needed to get in to work.
"You think it's ok to make us wait out here?! It's freezing!"
"Why won't you let us in!"
I mean, honest enough questions from people waiting out in the cold. But in my 17 year old mind, I had no idea what I was supposed to even say. I was still just trying to grasp what I was seeing. And who the heck asks these questions to a kid, anyway?
Time passed - employees clocked in, morning huddle was done, the mob was addressed to behave and enter in a civil fashion, and the doors were then opened. Then came the pushing, cussing, and hostile exchanges amidst the steady flood of people grumbling their way into the store. There were only a few minor scuffles in the end, compared to some of the disasters that have happened in other locations over various Black Fridays. But the whole ordeal left a bad taste in my mouth that has never really gone away.
Black Friday brings out the worst in people. Or the worst of people? I'm not sure. But it all seems wrong to me. And I don't like that people create these situations in the first place for it all to happen.
Will Black Friday exist this year? Because when I think back on that hoard of zombies that first introduced me to Black Friday - I don't know if that's an ideal situation in a pandemic. Seems like a really, REALLY good way to spread a respiratory illness (or a bad attitude for that matter). If you're worried about becoming a zombie yourself, maybe online is the safest place to spend your Black Friday!
The silver lining to all of this for Voice Actors is the possibility that physical, in-place sales could be a moot thing - at least if we're concerned about both being safe and getting deals. A lot of the tools in the toolbox are digital these days. A lot of our resources for the tools we use don't require us to be present for purchase. And as far as I know, the sales aren't being exploited by bots (*COUGH COUGH* #SONY *COUGH COUGH* #PLAYSTATION5).
Here's a list of sales and places to find deals this season for your Voiceover repertoire (updated as more deals come to my attention)
Sweetwater is promoting holidays deals
Adobe Premier is discounted currently for the season if you're interested in both video and audio work
Voices.com has a yearly premium membership discount for the holidays. **With ANY P2P membership - DO YOUR RESEARCH before joining so you can make sure their practices and services align with your goals and morals.
The most wonderful time of the year? Maybe, if you don't need to deal with the hordes potential angry #covid zombies!