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The Fool-Proof Christmas Plan

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“Dude. Dude.” Sock came over to where Andi, Ben, and Sam where eating their lunch in the middle of the showroom floor of the new lawn furniture that the Work Bench was displaying. Ben was the first to look up from his sandwich, followed by Sam who was eating some fries and then Andi who had a salad.

Sock plopped down into one of the plastic chairs and for a moment Sam thought the entire chair would break, but it held up. Looked like not everything the Work Bench sold was a piece of crap, after all.

“Guys,” Sock said, leaning forward and lowering his voice like he was about to announce a major conspiracy. “I have totally got the best plan.”

Sam brow furrowed. “Best plan for what?”

“For getting out of our Christmas Eve shift, that’s what! It’s totally bogus that all four of us are being made to work on Christmas Eve when we all know that there’s only going to be a handful of desperate customers looking for last minute gifts and we all got picked because the new manager has it out for us.”

“Out for you.” Ben corrected, then gestured at the three of them sitting across from Sock. “We all got stuck with the shift because we’re friends with you.”

Sock waved it off. “I don’t have time for your semantics, Benjamin. I’ve been planning an elaborate ruse to get us out of our work schedule.”

Sam glanced at Andi who was still eating her salad, but looking at Sock with the same casual doubt she always had when she looked at him. Sam looked back to his best friend. “Okay, what is it?”

“Okay, check this out.” Sock leaned even more forward. “The first part of the plan is to steal a poster from the local Save Mart down the road. We steal it and change all the prices to sales so low everyone and their pet Chihuahua can’t ignore. Then we take one of the Work Bench posters and up the prices on that and also post our holiday hours as closed at 11 A.M. That way, we come in for two hours, the store will be dead, and Work Bench policy dictates that during the holidays if there’s no sign of customers, they need to close early. It’s fool proof.”

“Wait.” Andi chimed in, looking confused and lowering her salad. “That’s a real policy?”

“It is ever since I visited the Work Bench CEO’s grandmother and convinced her it was in the interest of the children to do it.”

Andi gave Sock a look of disgust and Ben shook his head. The only person who looked impressed was Sam.

Sam looked at the others. “You know... this might actually work.”

“It will work, Sam. You just got to trust me.”

~*~

Trusting Sock was always a hard thing to do. He was the kind of guy you wanted to trust, but once you did so enough times, you realized that trusting him wasn’t always a guarantee that everything would go to plan.

Much to Sock’s credit, however, the plan seemed to be going off without a hitch. They had gotten the Save Mart flyer and one of the Work Bench flyers and were able to alter the flyers enough to actually make it look somewhat legitimate. Sam was pretty sure most holiday shoppers who left their shopping until Christmas Eve wouldn’t really be paying much attention to the graphics or words on a sheet of paper anyways. They’d be desperate. So the day before Christmas Eve, Sam was feeling pretty good about having tomorrow off.

“So, are you in?” Sam looked at Andi while he put away bottles of weed spray.

“Yeah, I guess.” Andi shrugged as she re-stocked the rat traps. “My parents aren’t really big on Christmas Eve, so it’d be nice to spend it with someone.”

“Great.” Sam couldn’t help the dorky smile he got. “I even got a couple of Christmas movies to watch and then maybe later - ”

“WHAT?” Sock’s voice carried throughout the aisles of the Work Bench and even managed to startle a few customers. It certainly got the attention of his friends who all rounded the corner where Sock stood in the paint aisle looking at a flyer like it just told him someone kicked his puppy.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” Sam took a step forward, concerned. He could feel the pit of disappointment already swell up inside him.

“What’s wrong? What’s wrong?! Life as we know it, my friends, has ended.” Sock looked up and held out the flyer to everyone.

The flyer was for the Work Bench. Instead of the ridiculously high prices that they had fabricated, there were sales and in big bold letters it read ‘We Won’t Close Until Everyone Has a Gift!’

Sam’s face fell, Ben’s face fell, and Andi rolled her eyes in disappointed.

“I don’t understand?” Sam shook his head. “That is not what we made.”

“I know, Sam. I know. But it’s here and if it’s here, that means it’s out there and we are screwed. Screwed.”

~*~

It was almost time to close for the night. Tomorrow would be Christmas Eve and Sam knew now that any plans he had made were ruined. There would be a rush of customers flooding in to buy ridiculous things for people that no one really wanted and he would have to sell it to them.

Sam sighed as he started to sweep.

“Like my little initiative?”

The voice came first and Sam didn’t want to straighten and turn around. He knew who it was, but he didn’t want to face him. Nevertheless, Sam turned and when his eyes settled on the Devil, Sam looked annoyed.

“You’re the one who changed the flyer, aren’t you?” Sam already knew the answer.

The Devil grinned proudly. “Nice, right? Way better than the one you guys came up with. I mean, really. Comic Sans? That is so 1997. You guys really should start taking some college classes or something.”

Sam groaned. “Why would you do that?”

The Devil just looked at Sam. “Because, Sam. I’m the Devil.”

Sam just looked at him which prompted the Devil to continue. “What? Did you think I’d give you a day off because it’s Christmas?”

Sam nodded with an indignant look. “Yes. Christmas is the time for like, good deeds, or whatever.”

“Christmas is also the time when Jesus was born. I knew you weren’t really up on the whole religion thing, Sammy, but there’s no way this is my favourite time of year.” The Devil suddenly chuckled because it was quite ridiculous, really.

“So you decide to torture me and my friends?” Sometimes Sam wished he didn’t have the hope he had.

The Devil did a palms-up. “Sure? Why not? It’s fun!”

Sam rolled his eyes and turned around and started walking away in a worst mood than before.

“Merry Christmas, Sammy!”