Long ago, back in my college years, a few of us were presented with an interesting opportunity. The few were myself, Clint, Sarah, and Cassie. All of us sang together in a couple different groups in those days. When I’ve written about singing in college and claimed that I got to sing with some of the most talented people I’ve heard, those three are some of the ones I’m talking about.
One day after Variations rehearsal, Chris Sheppard, our director, pulled the four of us aside. He mentioned that he had received a phone call from the owner of a local business. This Bluefield business owner was in need of four singers to perform a jingle for an upcoming commercial. So Mr. Sheppard gave the guy our names.
We got in touch with the owners of Carpetland in Bluefield and set up a time when we would come and record the jingle. On the phone, the owner told me he’d pay us $50 each. To a college student, that’s a fortune. And for anyone, that’s a lot of money for what promised to be about an hour of work.
The four of us arrived at Carpetland on the appointed day with very few expectations, except for that 50 bucks, of course. We had yet to hear any music or receive any lyrics to learn. On site, we were given a tune and the words and placed in front of a microphone. Not the most professional set up we’d be in front of, but hey, it was Bluefield.
My memory is a bit foggy when it comes to remember the actual song we sang. Each of us sang one line, then we all harmonized in the last half of the song, which told potential customers to “come to Carpetland.” During the ordeal, something happened that seemed to irritate us and the owner of the store. At one point he and his cronies went off to discuss something, leaving us to entertain ourselves for a bit. Once they came back, we did a final recording and left. We were told he would be in touch with us if we needed to re-record anything and for payment.
A few days passed and we hadn’t heard from Carpetland. So I called them. I called the number that Mr. Sheppard had given me and also called the store’s listed number. I got no answer. I left messages, but got no return calls. This went on for several weeks. In the end, we just made peace with the fact that we wouldn’t get any money for this less-than-professional gig.
Looking back, it may have had something to do with the fact that, while the owner and his cronies were away and we were entertaining ourselves, one of us made a sarcastic comment about the shabby condition of the store we were in. I don’t remember if it was me or Clint that made the remark. Really, it could’ve been either of us. All of us laughed. And they must have been in earshot.
I never personally saw the commercial that used our jingle, but I heard from other friends at various times in the following months that the ad did air. A year later, Carpetland filed bankruptcy and closed its doors to the public forever. I think the lesson we can learn here is that, if you hire a quartet of college students to sing your crappy jingle, you should pay them the agreed amount for the job, otherwise you might go way out of business.