The Day the Muzak Died

Patrick Reynolds hated his job. He worked behind the counter at a gas station on the West Side. Every day was the same as the day before. The same customers came in each day, buying the same newspaper and coffee. He suffered through the same loop of lite rock songs on the store’s stereo. He had the same conversations with the same people, answering the same questions all day long. Patrick lost track of the number of times he was asked about the rising cost of fuel or for directions to the highway. Patrick felt himself slowly dying inside as he stared out of the giant windows watching the world.

Once rush hour had passed, morning shifts were generally slow. Pat was re-stocking bottles of water in the cooler; he wondered who had bought it all, and why they might need 10 cases. He had his usual group come in for their usuals. Betty got her newspaper and headed off to the laundromat. Mr. Jones ate his daily dose of breakfast pizza, and the strange guy with the weird eye got his $5.00 worth of gas. “Just enough to get me where I’m going,” he said, as usual.

A few hours later, Patrick was minding his own business mopping the floor, unknowingly singing along to “Secret Agent Man.” Suddenly, the Muzak cut off. Patrick, still singing, looked up from his bucket of filthy water to see what caused the sudden lack of atmospheric rock. He noticed the pumps were almost full with drivers filling up their tanks. Throughout the rest of his shift, the crowds kept coming. They all said the same thing: They were headed away from the city. They told Patrick unbelievable stories of creatures terrorizing cities around the world. No one complained about the price of gas. The way to the highway was clear. For once, Patrick enjoyed being at work.

As he made his way home that night, with the world dying around him, Patrick finally felt alive.