Old Commercials and Anxiety

YouTube can be a wonderful waste of time. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself watching something useful, maybe even informative, and then you find yourself falling down a rabbit hole of videos and suddenly an hour or more has gone by.

Maybe there aren’t many out there who find themselves in that situation. But I sure do.

I’ll jump onto YouTube and check out a handful of videos from the channels to which I’m subscribed, and then I’ll see something in that “Recommended” sidebar that catches my eye. And that’s how it starts.

No, I’m not one to watch YouTubers as they endlessly play Fortnite. Okay, I occasionally watch videos of people playing video games, but I couldn’t care less about Fortnite if I tried. If I’m watching someone else play a video game, it’s gonna be a video game from my generation of games: a speed run of classic Metroid or Mega Man on the original NES.

Lately, however, YouTube must have discovered that I grow longingly nostalgic for all things 80s and 90s. Because they like to recommend these super long montages of old commercials. They’re the commercials that I remember seeing as a kid. They’re the ones with the catch jingles that I somehow remember to this day. I couldn’t believe it when I started singing along with the Doublemint Gum ad.

One commercial, in particular, awakened in me a sense of anxiety that I had no idea that I was capable. Which is odd, considering most of these commercials just make me long for a simpler time. But it was an ad for Mailboxes, Etc. that resurfaced some repressed memories.

Sidebar… Does Mailboxes, Etc. even still exist? Someone research that and get back to me…

In that old commercial, you have a guy who owns a company that makes neon signs talking about a product that he needs to ship to a customer. Of course, he goes to his friend who runs the local Mailboxes, Etc. because if anyone can properly ship a fragile neon sign, it’s the guy at Mailboxes, Etc. They show Mr. Mailboxes gently placing a bubble-wrapped sign into a large box, which I’d like to assume made it to its destination in one piece.

Not long after I moved to Wake Forest to begin seminary, it became apparent that I would need a part-time job to help put food on my very small table. Thankfully, there was a bulletin board on campus that had a flyer for a local store that was a lot like a Mailboxes, Etc. It was the kind of place where you could rent a mailbox, send a fax, make some copies, and have items packaged and shipped via your favorite shipping service.

I don’t consider myself an anxious person by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I like to think of myself as pretty laid back. This often gives people the impression that I don’t care about anything, which isn’t true (most of the time). But I will admit that I felt more anxiety in the few months that I worked in this packaging/shipping store than I’ve ever felt in any other job I’ve ever had.

I mean, I later worked for a bank where I was responsible for thousands of dollars each day and had to balance a drawer all the time. Never once did I feel the anxiety I felt when I was responsible for carefully packing up someone’s property to prepare for shipping. Especially if it was something that was ridiculously fragile.

I’m fairly certain that at least one item I was responsible for packing ended up broken by the time it reached its destination. And then there was this one time I shipped something that was meant to arrive the next day and it didn’t. That lady came back and ripped me a new one. I’d been on the job for a week and I didn’t realize that, when something ships on a Friday, there was a difference in next day shipping and delivery on a Saturday. I almost quit in that moment.

I lasted for a few months, even survived the Christmas rush. But then I moved on to work as a bank teller. Because it paid a little more and could give me more hours. I can’t believe an old commercial for a store that may or may not still exist can cause me to still feel anxiety over a job that I held very briefly over ten years ago…

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