Billy Joel for President

A Billy Joel song came on in Office Depot this afternoon, and I’ll be dogged if the entire store, staff and clientele alike, didn’t break out into song. This is likely the closest I’ll ever come to witnessing a flash mob, and I want to tell you about it.


I was at the counter waiting for a fax to send. The clerk, a twenty-something gentleman with excellent costumer service and unfortunate psoriasis, was assisting another customer – a woman near my mother’s age (referred hereto after as “Do Rag.”)


Do Rag had a motorcycle helmet in her left hand and a photo on honeybees on a honeycomb in the right. She had wanted to have the honey bee photo made into a two-by-four poster. The result was blurry. Disappointing. The clerk told her the photo file was too small. She’d need a photo that was at least X number of kilobytes or gigawatts or whatever. He was kindly jotting the specifics down onto a post-it for her when it started.


“Whats the matter with the clothes I’m wearing? ‘Can’t you tell that your tie is too wide.'”


Do Rag was singing along from word one, tapping a heavy black boot in time. She was happy. This same woman, seconds before, was sighing. Shaking her head. Rolling her eyes. She’d been weighing a series of frustrating options: Take the blurry poster? Take a new photo and come back next week? Now she was in karaoke mode and all seemed right in her world.


“Ma’am,” said the clerk. (He said it to me. I’m ma’am.) “The number is still busy. Why don’t you walk around a minute while I try again?”


“That works,” I said. I didn’t have to walk three full aisles before hearing it. Another costumer enthusiastically jamming out to Billy Joel. This time is was not a singer but a whistler. And this guy, y’all. His tune really carried. 80 decibels, easy.


I walked until I found him (bored as I found myself to be, and with no real shopping agenda to speak of). I studied him from the corner of my eye, all the while feigning interest in the highlighters. He was just a plain, run-of the-mill dad with a kid who needed unlined index cards, not lined. (Where are the unlined?!) Golf shirt. Khakis. A bit of a pot belly. Nothing striking about him, really, except his remarkable whistle and unabashed love of Billy Joel.


Back at the counter, Do Rag was thanking the clerk and walking away.


“See you next week,” she said.


A new gentleman sidled up to the counter. Shaggy hair. Camouflage cap and wranglers. He was getting some kind of card laminated. Maybe it was a hunting license. I don’t know. I’m only guessing that he liked to hunt. I can say for sure, however, that he liked Billy Joel. He, too, sang along. Sang like he was in the shower. Like he was drunk in the back seat of a buddy’s car. Not a care in the world.


“Hot funk, cool punk, even if it’s old junk it’s still rock and roll to me.”


People of America, I think we’ve found a strong write-in candidate for the upcoming presidential election. Who’s with me?





12 Comments on “Billy Joel for President”

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