18 actors (Gender doesn’t really matter) plus a narrator and extras. About 15-20 mins.
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HOW TO SURVIVE THE WORKPLACE
Written by Warren Sager
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
SHELDON: Employee working at the bank
ELLEN: Employee working at the Post Office
ELDON: Employee who is working at Mrs. Hicken’s Chicken
NARRATOR: Telling the story and tying it together.
BOSS: A manager with Mrs. Hicken’s Chicken.
PARCEL CUSTOMER: Just wants to mail a box.
ANGRY CUSTOMER: Angry about the post office not delivering their mail.
SUPERVISOR: At the bank
TERRY: Co-worker at Mrs. Hicken’s chicken.
LADY: A bit spacey postal customer.
NEW TELLER: Being trained at the bank.
BANK CUSTOMER: A little bit dumb
MRS. KNOWITALL: A busybody.
MYSTERY SHOPPER, MANAGER, JAN, 1ST CUSTOMER, FEMALE CUSTOMER, EMPLOYEE, EXTRAS (Customers and Employees)
NARRATOR: This is the story of Eldon, Sheldon and Ellen. It was time for Eldon to get a job. And it was important for Eldon, to find something right away that would bring in some steady income so that he could begin to make a living. Sunday at church, people were ready with their advice.
MRS. KNOWITALL: Eldon, I hear you’ve been looking for a job. Well, let me give you some advice. Jobs are very hard to get these days. You have to be very diligent and get out there and really knock on doors! Don’t expect anything to happen right away. Be patient and don’t give up. I would recommend that you put your application in to at least 20 places this next week. And don’t give up….it could take weeks before someone hires you. So, don’t give up!
ELDON: Thank you. Actually, I have already applied at about 50 places in just the past two days since I got in town. I got a call today, and I start tomorrow at Mrs. Hicken’s Chicken.
MRS. KNOWITALL: Oh…well, that’s very good. For your first day on the job, it is important that you make a good first impression! Let me make some suggestions….. (They exit together)
NARRATOR: Eldon was very excited about working at Mrs. Hicken’s Chicken. It was his most favorite place to eat. And the fact that he got the job so quickly, not even being in town a week, he knew that God was leading him in his adventure in the workplace. From the very start, he decided to always make Jesus his boss. Like it says in Colossians 3:23: to do everything heartily as unto the Lord.
(Eldon enters with the boss. Eldon now has a white apron that covers most of his clothes. Other employees are walking by carrying trays of chicken)
BOSS: So, why did you want to work at Mrs. Hicken’s? (Terry enters)
ELDON: Oh, this has always been my favorite place to eat! You know (sings the jingle) “Mrs. Hicken’s chicken finger lickin’ good!”
TERRY: You won’t be singing that song anymore!
BOSS: Back to work, Terry. Now, Eldon, have you ever made coleslaw before?
ELDON: No, sir. But I love Mrs. Hicken’s coleslaw! It’s the best! (The boss goes to get a big 5 gallon container)
TERRY: Wait till you make it!
TERRY: They don’t call it “Cold slaw” for nothing!
ELDON: Isn’t it “cole” slaw?
BOSS: Here you go, Eldon. It is very simple really. You have this bucket of slaw, and you dump in the packet of mayonnaise. Get ready for a shock, because it is very cold. You need to work the mayonnaise all the way to the bottom of the bucket. So you just get your arms in there and start moving it around, till you get it to the bottom.
ELDON: Where are the gloves?
BOSS: What gloves? Just use your bare hands. That is why I had you wash up good earlier. Did you wash all the way to your elbows?
ELDON: Yes sir.
BOSS: Alrighty then! Have at it! (He exits)
ELDON: (Sticking his arms into the bucket of slaw) OH! That is cold! It is freezing! Oh… Oh…. That actually hurts! Man that is cold!
TERRY: You’ll get used to it.
ELDON: What if someone didn’t wash up very well…wouldn’t that be bad?
TERRY: That is why no one who works here ever eats the coleslaw.
ELDON: I can’t feel my arms! (Boss enters and Eldon pulls his arms out of the slaw wincing in pain. Boss tosses him a towel)
BOSS: Go and wash up. Make sure you start with cold water and then work it up to the hot. Do not start with the hot water first. (Eldon exits) One … two… three….
ELDON: (From offstage) AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!
BOSS: They never listen to me. I don’t know why I bother to tell them. (Eldon enters with his arms crossed) Now you will help Terry do the chicken. This is fast food! We have to do everything fast here. Now when you drop the chicken into the boiling oil, you need to be very careful that you don’t splash. That will burn you so bad, you can’t even believe it! But you hang in there, I see a quality in you that makes me want to put you up front with the customers. (He exits)
ELDON: (Begins breading the chicken with Terry) I never realized that there could be so many hazards in working here.
TERRY: Are you kidding? When I first started, I had frost bite and three oil burns, and that was just the first day!
ELDON: I will try to be extra careful. (Trying to be positive) Well, at least the benefits are great.
TERRY: What benefits?
ELDON: Don’t we get to eat all the chicken we want?
TERRY: Are you kidding? They make you pay for every piece you eat, just like everybody else!
ELDON: Oh, that stinks! What about the leftovers? They don’t throw the chicken away do they?
TERRY: Are you kidding? What do you think barbeque chicken is?
ELDON: Huh? Day old chicken? (Just then an employee carrying a tray of chicken walks by and accidentally drops a piece on the floor.) Oops! You dropped one! (The person picks it up and looks at it and puts it back on the tray) Hey! Shouldn’t you throw that piece away?
EMPLOYEE: Naw! That piece costs money! The customers will never know the difference. Just look at it and make sure there is no dirt or hair. Blow on it and put it back in the tray. Besides, these floors are clean. We wash them every night.
ELDON: Yes, but…
TERRY: That is why no one who works here ever eats the chicken. Now you know why we don’t care about not getting to eat the food. (Laughs) You’ll never eat at Mrs. Hicken’s Chicken again! (They all exit)
NARRATOR: Eldon really got an eye-opener about working in fast food. It didn’t take long before he really hated working there. He thought about trying to work hard and eventually work into management. If he could become the manager of one of the stores, then perhaps he could change some of the things that displeased him. But was this really what he wanted to do? He decided he would just hang in there until something better came along.
JAN: (Enters the business to pick him up after work.) You sure worked late tonight!
ELDON: (Walking out, removing his apron and acting tired and sweaty) I had to stay and clean all the floors tonight. Thanks for picking me up.
JAN: Man you smell good! You smell like Mrs. Hicken’s chicken! It’s making me hungry!
ELDON: Are you crazy? (He smells himself) That’s not what I smell?
JAN: You don’t seem happy. Don’t you like your job anymore?
ELDON: I never did like it. I just keep at it…reminding myself that I am working for Jesus. But why am I here? What is my purpose in life? Do I just keep doing this? I feel like I have talents and gifts and abilities that are going to waste here! I wish I knew how to pursue something that would be more fitted to me. (They exit)
NARRATOR: Sheldon worked at a bank. He had a real teachable spirit, and learned quickly and became one of the best tellers at the bank. But was Sheldon really happy?
(All the tellers are behind the counter talking together and not noticing the 3 customers who have walked in.)
1ST CUSTOMER: (To second customer) That was very rude of you. I think you should apologize.
FEMALE CUSTOMER: (Third customer) Oh, its okay…I didn’t mind.
1ST CUSTOMER: No…it’s not right. You should tell her you are sorry! Now do it! Go ahead…tell her you’re sorry! Tell her! TELL HER!!
(All the tellers turn around)
(Customers come up to various teller stations. Sheldon has a new teller with him)
SHELDON: Since you are new, just watch me for awhile.
NEW TELLER: When will I be able to do it on my own?
SHELDON: You don’t want to rush into it. There is nothing worse than coming up short on your count at the end of the day. You don’t want to be short.
NEW TELLER: What happens when you are not here?
SHELDON: I will have you train with Brad.
NEW TELLER: Which one is Brad?
SHELDON: Over there…the one that’s short.
NEW TELLER: Short? I don’t want to train with someone who’s short! I want someone who is never short!
SHELDON: Oh, Brad is never short. (A tall teller walks by)
NEW TELLER: Is that Brad?
SHELDON: No. Brad is short. Next customer in line, please!
CUSTOMER: I would like to open a new account. How does that work?
SHELDON: It is very easy. First you need to fill out this form.
CUSTOMER: But once I have an account, will I be able to write checks?
SHELDON: Oh, absolutely. And we will provide you with the checks and the deposit slips.
CUSTOMER: What do you use the deposit slips for?
SHELDON: That is when you want to put money in your account.
CUSTOMER: So, how do I get my money out?
SHELDON: Well, if you wish to make a withdrawal, then you come in and fill out a withdrawal form. They are on the counters.
CUSTOMER: How much money can I take out at one time?
SHELDON: As much as you like. It’s your money.
CUSTOMER: Can I take out some now?
SHELDON: How much would you like to put in?
CUSTOMER: No, I don’t want to put any in, I want to take it out. I wish to make a withdrawal.
SHELDON: You have to put it in first before you can take it out. The first thing you need to do is open an account.
CUSTOMER: But that is why I am here, to open an account.
SHELDON: Right. Why don’t you go and fill out this form, and come back to the first available teller and we can open an account for you. You will need to deposit some money into that account.
CUSTOMER: So, will I get my money today?
SHELDON: Let’s take this one step at a time, alright? (Customer leaves.)
NEW TELLER: You were very patient with that customer. That would drive me nuts!
SUPERVISOR: (Approaches Sheldon) Sheldon, I was looking at the schedule and I noticed that you traded with Alice so you didn’t have to work last Sunday.
SHELDON: Well, she wanted to work the Sunday shift.
SUPERVISOR: Don’t give me your excuses! I have noticed a pattern here. Every time I schedule you for a Sunday, you trade with someone!
SHELDON: But they don’t mind. You make more money on a Sunday, so they always say yes. Besides, I like to go to church, and so I would really rather not work that day.
SUPERVISOR: Just because you like to go to church doesn’t mean that you can always get your way around here, you know!
SHELDON: I know. I’m not trying to get my way, but if they don’t mind trading with me…
SUPERVISOR: They are doing it to be nice to you. Everyone should have their turn at working on Sundays. It is only fair. You can miss church once in a while. I don’t think you go to hell for that do you?
SHELDON: Of course not. It’s just that I teach a class. The kids are expecting me to be there, and it is something I really like doing.
SUPERVISOR: And I really like playing gulf, but my job comes first! You need to get your priorities straight young man! Now, I have put you on the schedule for this Sunday, and I absolutely forbid you to try to trade with anyone! You will work this Sunday! (Exits)
NEW TELLER: Why would we have to work at a bank on a Sunday?
SHELDON: Catching up on the computer data base. There is not time during the week. I need prayer. I don’t want to ask someone else to take my class this late. It doesn’t make any sense that they should even care whether I work or someone else does. But I can’t have a bad attitude.
NEW TELLER: I’ll pray for you. But I don’t think you have a bad attitude.
SHELDON: I just keep telling myself that I’m working for Jesus…even if I’m not really sure if this is even where God wants me to be. Am I serving a purpose here? How long do I have to do this?
SUPERVISOR: (Approaches again) I can’t believe these medical bills! How do they expect a person to pay all of this money! Wait till you get older and have all of these bills to pay! I don’t make enough at this job to keep my head above water! By the time I pay all my utility bills and pay rent and buy food…there is no money left. Now I have this medical bill that is just outrageous! I gotta figure out a way to make some extra money! If only there was an opening on Sunday. Wait! You are working this Sunday!
SHELDON: Yes. You just told me that.
SUPERVISOR: But you don’t like working Sundays. If I worked your shift on Sunday… that would give me some extra money that I need. What do you say? You would really be doing me a great favor! I’ll make it up to you! Now you can go and teach your class or whatever it is you do. And everybody is happy! Man that was brilliant! (He exits)
SHELDON: (To new teller) See how fast God answers prayer! And He used him!
NARRATOR: Now we come to Ellen. She took the test and passed and was hired to work at the post office. She worked at the counter and was one of the most kindest and patient clerks that the post office had. Ellen was working at her dream job. Working with the public and making good money doing it. But the job didn’t seem all that dreamy.
(Ellen is standing behind the counter as a customer approaches. There is a long line waiting to be helped and people are passing through the area. You can have other clerks waiting on others in the line with no talking, so only the following lines are heard. If Ellen has too many lines… some of the lines in the following scene could be done by other clerks, while Ellen just quietly looks on working next to them. Blocking will be a little tricky so that no one has their back to the audience. Perhaps the counter line could be at an angle, so that the audience can see the sides of the clerk and the customer, trying to keep their bodies open to the audience.)
ELLEN: May I help you?
LADY: I’m here to retrieve my messages?
ELLEN: You mean your mail?
LADY: I get messages. I get them all the time. But they haven’t been coming recently.
ELLEN: Was this a certain piece of mail that you were expecting?
LADY: No, you don’t understand. It is not mail. It is a message. I was wondering if you have gotten any of them here.
ELLEN: Okay, where did this message come from? And what is your address and maybe I can check on it for you?
LADY: They don’t come to my address… they come directly to me. And the messages come from all over.
ELLEN: All over?
LADY: All over the universe. Other planets, other solar systems. I never know who or what is sending me the next message. Other life forms I imagine. These messages are very important and they should not get into the wrong hands. It is highly classified …top secret.
ELLEN: (starting to get nervous) I’m sorry ma’am, but I don’t think I can help you with that. Would you like to buy some stamps, today?
LADY: I don’t need stamps to send my messages. But I understand. I can tell that you don’t believe me. That’s alright. It won’t be the first time. You were very sweet. There is something special about you. (She exits. The next customer approaches quickly)
ANGRY CUSTOMER: I want my mail!
ELLEN: Alright. Are we holding your mail?
ANGRY CUSTOMER: It was supposed to come to my home today!
ELLEN: Oh, did the carrier forget to bring it to you?
ANGRY CUSTOMER: Oh, he brought it alright! But I wasn’t there to answer the door, so he left me this stupid notice to pick up my mail here! I wanted it delivered to my house! I called and asked for that!
ELLEN: Apparently, there was more mail than what could fit in your box. If no one is home and the mail doesn’t fit, then they have no choice but bring it back to the office.
ANGRY CUSTOMER: Why didn’t he just leave it on the porch?
ELLEN: We are not allowed to leave mail on the porch. It has to go into the mail receptacle.
ANGRY CUSTOMER: I don’t want to hear your excuses! I just want my mail!
ELLEN: According to this notice, you cannot retrieve your mail until tomorrow.
ANGRY CUSTOMER: WHAT??
ELLEN: See, it says right here. “Pick up your mail tomorrow at the post office”. You see, the carrier is still out on his route and won’t be back in until after we are closed today.
ANGRY CUSTOMER: That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard! That notice was left on my door two hours ago! This is insufficient!
ELLEN: The carriers are out doing their routes all day long. They sometimes don’t get back till dark. You shouldn’t have asked us to bring it out if you were not going to be home. Then, it would have been here for you to pick up.
ANGRY CUSTOMER: I should not have to come down here and wait in this long line to pick up my mail! I asked for it to be brought to me and it wasn’t!
ELLEN: Yes it was.
ANGRY CUSTOMER: This is insufficient! Just get me my mail NOW!!!
MANAGER: (Walking up) What seems to be the problem?
ANGRY CUSTOMER: She refuses to get me my mail!!
MANAGER: Please stop shouting. I’m sure we can work this out. This is one of our best employees, she a beautiful person and could not possibly be doing anything other than trying to help you.
ANGRY CUSTOMER: She says that my carrier has my mail, and I want my mail NOW!! THIS IS INSUFFICIENT!
ELLEN: It is just an unfortunate circumstance.
MANAGER: You have to stop yelling and calm down or I will have to call the police.
ANGRY CUSTOMER: GO AHEAD AND CALL THE POLICE!! I HAVE MY RIGHTS! I WANT MY MAIL!! WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO ARREST ME? I DON’T HAVE A GUN!! SEE? LOOK AT ME? DO YOU SEE A GUN? I DON’T HAVE A GUN!! (Storms out)
ELLEN: Next please? (Parcel customer walks up) Hello.
PARCEL CUSTOMER: You are very patient and very kind. I won’t be like that last customer. I just wish to mail this package.
ELLEN: Sure. What is inside?
PARCEL CUSTOMER: Inside?
ELLEN: Yes, anything breakable, perishable, liquids or potentially hazardous materials?
PARCEL CUSTOMER: Of course not.
ELLEN: When would you like this package to arrive?
PARCEL CUSTOMER: As soon as it can, I guess.
ELLEN: Overnight? Or two day service?
PARCEL CUSTOMER: What is the cost?
ELLEN: $15 or $5.
PARCEL CUSTOMER: (Getting a little upset) $5 is the cheapest?
ELLEN: Well, no. You can use parcel post if you insist. It is only $2.50, but it is very slow.
PARCEL CUSTOMER: I don’t care, that’s what I want.
ELLEN: Okay. Do you need insurance?
PARCEL CUSTOMER: (Getting annoyed) No.
ELLEN: Do you need a signature?
PARCEL CUSTOMER: No.
ELLEN: Do you need tracking?
PARCEL CUSTOMER: (Building with each “No”) NO.
ELLEN: Do you need any stamps with that?
PARCEL CUSTOMER: Are you going to put postage on my package?
ELLEN: Of course.
PARCEL CUSTOMER: Then, no!
ELLEN: How about a phone card today?
PARCEL CUSTOMER: (Loudly) NO!!
ELLEN: Then that will be $2.50.
PARCEL CUSTOMER: Here, use my debit card.
ELLEN: (Swipes card and gives it back) Thank you. Have a good day.
PARCEL CUSTOMER: I’ll be glad to get out of here! This place is unbelievable! UNBELIEVABLE!! (Someone enters and gets in line with a very large box.)
MYSTERY SHOPPER: (Approaches Elien’s window) I’m a mystery shopper and I was watching your last transaction. You neglected to ask the customer if they wanted cash back with their debit card. That is a huge deduction from your score. You also did not describe the benefits of using overnight mail. That is lost revenue…another deduction. I will be giving this report to your manager. Try to do better next time.
ELLEN: That is so much to remember while you are dealing with a customer. I try to do a good job, but it just seems so meaningless at times. I really don’t feel like I belong here.
MYSTERY SHOPPER: Remember, if you get a hundred percent, then you get a free coffee at Starbucks!
ELLEN: I don’t even drink coffee. (ALL EXIT)
NARRATOR: Believe it or not, Ellen decided to stay at this job. She figured it was a good job until something better came along. Well, nothing better came along for a very long time! It wasn’t always like we just witnessed. Sometimes it was just dull and boring: The same things day after day, week after week, and year after year. Ellen never tried to get into upper management, or get any type of a better position. She just came to work every day, worked hard, seldom called in sick, and kept the attitude that she was working for Jesus Christ. Finally, the day came when she was able to take an early retirement. She was still young enough to pursue what she had always wanted to do.
(Sheldon enters wearing a baseball cap and holding a script. He grabs a megaphone to holler. There are a few people milling about.)
SHELDON: (Hollering into the megaphone) Attention everyone! Let’s all gather around for the read-through! (More enter… some sit, and folks just gather and pay attention. Ellen and Eldon also enter.) My name is Sheldon, and I’m your director! The name of this film is “How I Survived the Workplace” by Ellen Page. Our screenwriter is right here with us. Stand up Ellen. (Everyone claps) This is Ellen’s first screenplay. The movie is starring newcomer, Eldon Sage. He plays the main character. That’s him over there. Eventually, you will all get to know one another, and we are going to have a great time making this film together. As we work on this movie, I want us all to develop the same attitude as the character in the film: Let’s make Jesus our boss! (Everyone claps.)
NARRATOR: Eldon’s, Sheldon’s and Ellen’s workplace experiences are uniquely their own. Not everyone gets to leave their boring and mundane jobs to follow their dream. Some people have a God given talent, or some have excellent skills, and some are just plain hard workers. Most everyone ends up in the workplace eventually. How we survive that is probably determined by where Jesus is in our lives while we work.
Copyright 2004 Warren Sager