Bribing for Joy: What Else Can Corporations Force Out of You?

Laura Miller
3 min readJul 2, 2021


I work at a grocery store that’s part of a small chain running up and down the east coast. It is notable for its average size, the personalities of its employees and overall lack of morale. Something about working a minimum wage job with a crew of teenagers, who quit so they can work for a froyo store nearby really grinds gears.

The lack of entertainment and repetitive workspace can be a real drain on one’s energy (Note: there are sprinklings of fun when the cat ladies come and buy $250 worth of kitty litter). Not to mention the two clocks in the building feel as though they move backwards (the one over the cash registers) or are speeding into another dimension (the one in the break room).

A manager decided to spice things up for the summer and introduce theme days. For one week only, workers could come in without their uniforms if they participate. The idea didn’t really catch on till later in the week when people started realizing they were missing out on chances to ditch the tight red shirts and black dress pants.

Monday was crazy hair day/tie die/crazy sock day. I would like it to be known that I was the only one to try anything with my hair. I was thoroughly embarrassed at first with my demented three-horned-ponytail look. Thankfully, I kept forgetting what I’d done and return customer’s stares with confused looks until the realization spread across my face. Times like this are when I miss masks.

Day two was the only day I wasn’t working. This was unfortunate for a plethora of reasons. One of which was that the theme was “Heroes and Villains” which is every nerd’s dream. I was unconsciously imagining if I could do a cosplay of the villain from The Incredibles 2, despite the fact that Tuesday was one of my days off. I also found out that the 85-year-old man in customer service, with the laugh like a leaky tire, was coming dressed in a kilt, a wig and blue war-paint. Braveheart would be so proud.

Day three was Hawaiian, another bust for me. I searched high and low in the house for anything that could resemble a lei, grass skirt, or flowers. Nothing was accessible, short of cutting a shirt pattern from my mother’s tablecloth. Out of fear for my hide, which I was sure would be flayed into meat strips, I nixed the idea. A normal day in my uniform (read: defeat), was what I was reduced to.

Thankfully day four was more my speed. “Decade’s day” is an easy theme when you have the fashion sense of a dead monk. I found a woven-leather belt with a huge star buckle, that I thought looked amazing when I was fifteen. Then I had a tank top button-down that would look fine if paired with anything other than the cheaply-made, eye-torture-patterned pants bought at a $7.99 or less store (Mistake made, lesson learned). I found a scrap of flower cloth (that I wish I had found the day before) and used it as a headband. I have never been more comfortable at work. There was a wonderful anonymity being able to be in the same aisle as a customer and have them ignore you, thinking you were a fellow, if not strange, customer.

I suppose choosing themes got too difficult towards the end of the week, or it was all just a lead up to the Fourth of July which meant nothing but the red, white and blue would do. The next three days of theme week are in fact: “Red, white and blue”, which I find pretty sad. What if the theme was “Stars” one day and “Stripes” the next? That’s got to be more entertaining. Or if it was blue all one day and red the next. The myriad of color shades would be so wonderfully horrible.

I plan on breaking out 14-year-old me’s Captain America shirt, red jeans and white converse. The pants are closer to maroon but who’s going to fight me?

I’m bringing as much morale as I can. But only because I was told there’s a Star Wars’ jacket for a prize. Here’s to corporations attempting to bribe joy from dried up employees.



Laura Miller

Jedi Knight. Hogwarts Alumni. Mystery Shack Enthusiast. Here's my website: