Odd Jobs in an Odd Economy: A Reality Blog by Daniel McLeod

The Man Behind the Mask

I had a good feeling about this job. Outwardly, the prospects for landing the position seemed pretty grim – the recession was hitting stride and there was stiff competition for any crumb of employment out there. But I knew in my bones this was going to pan out in my favor; this  was my ticket back into the labor market. I saw a sparkle in my interviewer’s eye, and when that person happens to be a plump older guy with milkweed hair and a long, white beard, you know you’re in good hands. He was an off-season Santa, the sensei of all mall demigods, and I was applying to be the Easter Bunny.

My instincts proved sharp. A week and a half later, I became the main attraction in the Easter Bunny’s Spring Garden at the Auburn Mall. Sitting on a wide wooden bench, I greeted a steady stream of shorties and parents hoping to say hello or get their pictures taken with me.

It’s a commitment when you don that giant plastic rabbit head, aware you will barely hear or see anything for the next six hours. Imagine sitting with a bucket on your head for that long and you will begin to get a sense of what it’s like. What a luxury to scratch one’s nose, to see the wide world, to hear, to speak, to take a cool breath!

The responses from the kids ran quite the gamut. Some came running with open arms and unconditional awe,  while others kicked and screamed in unmitigated terror. I sometimes wondered what effect that early introduction to mall life had on them. Do the accepting kids grow up to follow Madison Avenue’s manufactured fads? Do the traumatized ones become hippies and reject consumerism? I wondered. I still wonder.

I also wondered why all the bunnies are white. Is it a racial thing? Are there people out there picketing the bunny?  Stranger things have happened I’m sure. You consider such random thoughts to pass time while sitting and sweating.

My folks have a picture of me from 1984 they take out every March. I’m 6 years old and sitting on the Easter Bunny’s lap in the same mall. It reminds me of the picture where a young Bill Clinton is shaking President Kennedy’s hand. Who’da thought in either case we upstarts would inherit those very mantles? Next to that photo stands a new one of my three year old niece and the giant rabbit. Little does she suspect the true identity of her friend or her kinship to the mythical critter. Perhaps we’re even looking at a future torch carrier for the spring of 2025.

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