The Day Job – Part 1

The following is the text of a play that Hank wrote at Interlochen Arts Camp that won an award for best Creative Play. This Play will be published in a series.

The Day Job

Characters:

James: A rude, smug and cunning leader. He manages the grocery store and is 14 years old. He is smaller than the other kids but what we lacks in size he makes up for in his powerful presence. He lives with his mom who is divorced from his dad who lives in the same house but doesn’t see him very often. He is an only child.

Colly: The main character of the show, Collie is big, smart and funny. He is a likable guy but seems to not want popularity of friends but instead enjoys family time and other solitary hobbies such as reading. He is new the store and already has a strong foothold in the community. He gets a job in the deli early on but the story is about him trying to become a manager at the store. He has four siblings, two older, two younger. His parents are wealthy and happily married. He is fifteen years old.

Thomas (Tommy): The popular guy at school, Tommy is liked by all that meet him. With a nice family life and two siblings, Tommy is an athlete, marvelous student and is best friends with James. However, he is nice to all those around him. Early on in the show, he gets a managerial job at the grocery store. He is fifteen years old.

Shopper: This is a character who is about 15-20 years old. Thier background isn’t important as he or she will be coming in and out of the scene repeatedly.

 

Plot:

This show takes a look at the life of highschool students through the lens of a business. The show follows Colly in his conquest to get a promotion at the community grocery store that James runs. In this play, instead of going to school, high school aged kids come here to work. There is no such thing as school. With some parables to the experiences of teen life, through comedy and drama, this show looks at the life and times of high school students.

 

Setting: This story takes place in three different rooms of a grocery store. One is the back office, another is the checkout counter, and the third is the deli section. The time is present, and the show takes place over several days.

 

Scene 1

(Tommy and James are in the Grocery aisle. Tommy is mopping the floor as James tells him where to mop)

 

James

There.

(Beat)

 

There

 

(Beat)

 

There

 

(Enter Shopper)

 

Yello’, how can I help you today?

 

Shopper

I am looking for lemos. Do you have lemons?

 

James

Yes.

 

Shopper

I’m sorry, I am looking for someone who works here.

 

James

Oh sorry. Tommy?

 

Tommy

How can I help you today?

 

Shopper

No, like I actually need someone who works here.

 

Tommy

I work here. (Pointing to James) He’s my boss.

 

Shopper

But…you look so young for your age

 

Tommy

I look great for my age.

 

Shopper

Aren’t you supposed to be in school?

 

Tommy

I’m at school.

 

Shooper

Stop fudging with me.

 

James

Please do not use that kind of language here, there are young people present (pointing to Tommy)

 

Shopper

You also look young for your age.

 

James

Thank you, you look old for your age.

 

Shopper

What is this place?

James

Welcome to “the Store”

 

Shopper

Can I get lemons?

 

James

I don’t have lemons.

 

Shopper

But you just…

 

Tommy

We just ran out

 

Shopper

I’m the only one in the store.

 

James

As my employee just said, we are out of stock. We have melons.

 

Shopper

What?

 

Tommy

We have melons.

 

Shopper

I don’t need melons, I need something that tastes like a lemon.


Colly

Our melons taste like lemons.

 

Shopper

Really

 

Tommy

Yes.

 

Shopper

Ok I’ll take two melons.

 

James

Ok.

(Beat)

 

Shopper

So…am I going to get it or are you…

 

Tommy

Oh sorry we just ran out

 

Shopper

Oh my god.

(Storms out)

 

James

(calling after her)

We have oranges

 

Tommy

(To Colly)

No we don’t.

 

Scene 2

(Tommy and James are sitting around a table in the deli. They are both drinking coffee, but out of the same massive cup. A clock on the wall reads 5:15 am. They are both wearing pajamas. There is silence for the first minute or so as both of the boys take turns sipping at the trough of coffee.)

Tommy

Big day today.

 

James

Just like any other day.

 

Tommy

New recruit today.

 

James

Who?

 

Tommy

His name’s Colly

 

James

Like the dog?

 

Tommy

I suppose. I advise you don’t say that to his face…

 

James

So we keep it behind his back?

 

Tommy

I believe at this moment in time that would be smart.

 

James

I like the way you think.

 

Tommy

I learned from the best.

 

James

Who?

Tommy

You.

 

James

Oh yeah I am the best.

 

Tommy

So you gonna hire him?

 

James

Depends.


Tommy

On?

 

James

Depends on what he looks like. If he looks like he can work sure.

 

Tommy

I advise you hire him.

 

James

Why’s that now?

 

Tommy

We are understaffed in the deli.

 

James

No one wants to work in the deli.

 

Tommy

That’s the beauty of a new recruit. He doesn’t give a rats ass where he works. He just wants to work.

 

James

Your’s smart.

 

Tommy

Not as smart as you sir.

 

James

That’s because //I’m older than you.

 

Tommy

You’re older then me.

 

James

I’m a September baby.

 

Tommy

Your birth certificate is on the wall.

(Tommy points to a little plaque on the wall)

 

James

Yes.

 

Tommy

You are bigger than I am sir.

 

James

Yes but you are growing yourself Tom. That’s why you are my number two.

 

Tommy

(Proudly)

I am a November baby.

 

James

Yes you are.

(Beat)

I will hire him this morning. But he will have to work for a promotion.

 

Tommy

Very good sir.

(Beat)

Permission to the final sip?

 

James

Yes.

 

Tommy

(Drinks final sip of coffee out of the cup)

 

Scene 2

(The back office of the grocery store. The scene opens on James looking over a stack of papers behind a desk. In the room there is one desk, a chair, a lamp, and a file cabinet. In a minute or so there is a knock on the door).

 

JAMES

(He enters wearing pajamas. He goes into the file cabinet and pulls out a three piece suit. He begins to change into the suit. He sits down and starts looking over papers when there is a knock on the door)

Come in.

 

Colly

(peeking in before fully entering)

Hi. I’m Colly

 

James

Come in.

 

Colly

Hi. I’m Colly and I’m interviewing for a job.

 

James

Hi Colly I’m James.

 

(beat.)

 

So. Tell me about yourself.

 

Colly

What do you want to know?

 

James

Whatever it is that you do. Knock my socks of. In fact, that’s my first rule. Everyone who works here, I demand from them one thing in particular. To wow me. I need you to constantly wow me with every move you do.

 

Colly

(Persuasively)

Oh I can wow you.

 

James

Oh yeah? How’s that?

 

Colly

(Beat, looks around. Then sits down.)

Well for starters–

 

James

Did I tell you you could sit?

 

Colly

(surprised)

What now?

 

James

Did I tell you you could sit? Did you even consider asking me for permission?

(Waits for an answer.)

My second rule for success. I ask of all my employees two things. First, they must wow me. Second, they must do as they are told, and only after they have been told they can do something g can they ask for permission to do something.

 

Colly

(Perplexed)

I’m lost.

 

James

Ask me for permission.

 

Colly

(Stands up).

May I sit?

 

James

(Long Beat)

Yes.

 

Colly

Alright thank you.

(Sits waits for James to speak.)

Should I…wow you

 

James

Do I look wowed already?

 

Colly

No sir.

 

James

Then wow me.

 

Colly

(Beat)

Well, there….

(beat)

Do I have your permission to wow you?

 

James

Yes.

 

Colly.

Well there was this one time I had my birthday party at the zoo. My friends and I had lunch and after lunch we went to the monkey enclosure. My friend had his ice cream in one hand and was looking over at the monkeys from this rooftop view skylight thing. And so he’s looking over and all the sudden he drops his ice cream cone.

(Begins to laugh.)

And so he drops the cone and we wait a second or two and we are all waiting.

(He is laughing harder and harder until by the end of his story he can barely get the words out)

And the monkey…HE EATS IT. LIke the whole cone.

But the best part is he didn’t just eat it off the ground, he hold it in his hand and licks it like a human would.

 

James

(Beat, completely stern faced, not even a  smile).

Wow.

 

Colly

Right?

 

James

Wow that was one of the dumbest stories I’ve ever heard.

(Colly stops laughing and starts blushing)

That is ok though. Luckily for both of us, the interview is over.

 

Colly

So, I didn’t get the job.

(Dejected, head down, he begins to stand up)

 

James.

No, you did.

 

Colly

But…I didn’t wow you…

 

James

No one does the first time around. Don’t worry, there will be other chances. Meanwhile, we are understaffed in the deli.

(James shakes Colly’s hand and walks out the door.

 

Colly

(Colly watches James leave the room, slumps down in his seat and ponders what just happened. Thirty seconds pass when he gets up and starts talking about the monkey scene over again the audience, laughing through the entire thing. As he is talking, the set changes to the deli section, preparing for scene two.)

 

Scene 4

(In the grocery department. Colly and Tommy are on stage. They are both peering over an express checkout station and Tommy is walking Colly through how to work the machine).

 

Colly

You must understand I am not a complete idiot.

 

Tommy

I do.

 

Colly

It’s just that-

 

Tommy

In this field of business you aren’t the brightest.

 

Colly

Yes.

(beat)

I’m sure I’m not the first who has ever failed to understand how work this….(pointing at the device) thing.

 

Tommy

You are not.

 

Colly

That makes me feel better.

 

Tommy

You’re the first to fail this many times in a row. You know what you lack? You lack dedication. You’re on of those people that goes from one thing to another, can’t stay focused, goes off on tangents, and lacks dedication.

 

Colly

If I wanted a diagnoses  would have asked my mom.

 

Tommy

Is your mom Chinese?

 

Colly

No.

 

Tommy

Is she Russian?

 

Colly

No.

 

Tommy

Then she can’t be too hard on you. I swear, if your parents aren’t Asian or Russian you have it off easy.

 

Colly

How do you know?

 

Tommy

My friend’s mom is Filipino and his dad is two thirds Russian. He always is doing chores or homework or something.

 

Colly

(sits down, grabs a soda from the table and proceeds to drink)

(Beat)

You smart?

Tommy

I mean…I’m no genius, but I get around.

 

Colly

Well if you were  genius you wouldn’t be working at a grocery store I guess.

 

Tommy

Oh you know it’s fairly prestigious to work here. Especially being a manger.

 

Colly

I wanna be a manger

 

Tommy

You’ll get there.You have to get on Jame’s good side. You gotta kiss up all those above you to get to the top I guess.

 

Colly

Yeah. You guys are like really good friends.

(Beat)

He doesn’t care for me.

 

Tommy

He doesn’t care for many people.

 

(Enter a shopper)

 

Shopper

Hi could I get a pound of beef?

 

Colly

No problem.

 

Tommy

(Whispering to Colly)

We have three kinds of beef ask her what kind does she want.

 

Colly

What kind of beef do you want?

Shopper

(beat)

What goes well in a stir fry?

 

Colly

How the hell do you expect me t—

 

Tommy

(whispering)

Flank Steak.

 

Colly

The flank makes a very nice pairing.

 

Shopper

I’ll take a pound and a half of that.

 

Colly

But…earlier you said only a pound

 

Tommy

(mumbled)

Shut up.

 

Colly

A pound and a half coming right up.

 

(Collard wraps the meet, he and Tommy tap the screen a few times before handing the shopper the package. Coly sits and continues to drink. Tommy sits down next to him)

 

That wasn’t hard

 

Tommy

Right? I told you you would get it.

 

(Beat)

Wanna hear something kinda scary? When I used to work in the deli, I used to put a magnet or a piece of metal in the meat so it would weigh more. That way I’d get a bigger tip.

 

Colly

How is that scary? That’s just psychotic.

 

Tommy

You would be scared if you were eating dinner and all the sudden you swallow a magnet.

 

Colly

(Beat)

You know what I’m scared of?

 

Tommy

Clowns

 

Colly

(Completely matter of  fact, even cheerful)

Nah. I’m scared of waking up, then coming here, then going home, and not once hearing my name.

 

Tommy

That’s a weird proposition.

 

Colly

Not really. People sometimes get lost in the shuffle, we all do. But to not once be noticed by anyone, that’s scary.

 

Tommy

I guess. But that’s why we come here. So we can hear James yelling our names when you takes role at the beginning of every shift.

(chuckling)

 

Colly

You know, I don’t care when I hear James saying my name. He doesn’t matter.

 

(Beat)

I want someone I truly care about to say my name. Once a day.

 

Tommy

Good luck finding someone to care about in here.

(Gestures around)

We are surrounded by idiots.

 

(Over the intercom:

James voice:

Get back to work ladies. People are needed in produce. Colly and Tommy, I’m talking to you.)

 

Tommy

That’s our cue.

 

Colly

Yeah. Catch you later.

 

Tommy

(leaving, turns around before he is completely gone)

You smiled, for a second, just then.

 

Colly

(confused)

When?

 

Tommy

When he said you name…Just saying.

 

Colly

(blushing, chuckling.)

We have work to do.

 

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3 thoughts on “The Day Job – Part 1

  1. Finally found this–now I want to read what’s next–where this is all heading. I have a feeling there’s going to be a big twist to the play.

    Like

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