For all her life, all Celeste had wanted to do was become an famous serious actress and was determined to pursue her dreams at all costs; marriage, children and even education had been sacrificed in pursuit of her vision of herself as a serious actress.
Unfortunately, a substantial lack of discernible talent had meant that Celeste’s sacrifices had been for naught and she instead found herself as 40, childless and head sales person in Tent World in Hollywood.
Celeste could sell anything to to anyone because she could feign enthusiasm for anything, even camping. So, in a sense she had achieved her dream because she was in Hollywood and she was acting; it just wasn’t serious (how could anyone be serious spruiking the spaciousness of a two man tent) and she definitely wasn’t famous on the movie scene.
Still, her reputation preceded her, and despite her lack of any real experience in nature (she had grown up in a city apartment in San Francisco and the closest thing she’d gotten to camping is lining up all night for tickets for a Wham! concert – which had totally been worth it.) customers came from miles around to seek her expertise. She was an authority about all of their camping needs; torches, sleeping bags, gas refrigeration, solar, camper vans, you name it, she could convince you you needed it for your next trip into the wilderness; all except for, the light tent.
The light tent was her nemesis.
It stood in the corner, mocking her inability to sell it every time she came to work. Other sales people managed to convince people of the irrepressible magic of the light tent, but not Celeste. She just couldn’t even muster the right amount of enthusiasm to make her customers believe that they needed these pointless little ‘shelters’.
Their presence galled her.
Celeste even practised being enthusiastic at home in the mirror, but to no avail, even she didn’t believe her when she said there was a need to buy a light tent. These tents were so light they didn’t protect you from wind (they blew over), they didn’t protect you from sun (the sun shone through) and they didn’t protect you from rain (okay, a light drizzle but that was it!). And yet, other sales people managed to sell them
“Maybe, it’s just because I’m a good person,” Celeste reasoned with herself as she circled the zone, the world where the light tent ruled; her confidence was so shattered that she could no longer enter the light tent domain. It was as if there were two world in ‘Tent World’, the world where she was queen and the world where she was a loser.
So, as a self-protection method for her mental health, she simply fobbed any potential light tent sales to the other sales people. Again, Celeste imagined that her superb acting schools didn’t belie her fear of light tents when she handed her work mates the sales because she did it in such a way that they were under the impression they she was doing them a favour.
Again, Celeste’s considerable lack of acting talent meant that everyone in the sales department at ‘Tent World’ were aware of her weird fear because if they said they couldn’t take the customers to the light tent domain she would look so distraught that they would take the customers regardless of how busy they were just to stop the inevitable sobbing that would happen in the lunchroom afterwards.
Still, it was a system which worked for all those who worked in ‘Tent World’.
Then came the day that ‘Tent World’ made the announcement that they were making advertisements using their actual staff. Celeste was elated, this was her chance, her break; at last she could show the world what she could do.
The manager, who was so out of touch that he was unaware of her light tent phobia, agreed with her that her years and years of acting classes would be well utilised and she should be the spokesperson for the sales team. When it was announced Celeste was walking on air for the entire week leading up to the filming.
The day of the filming arrived and Celeste got up extra early so that she could spend extra time doing her makeup and hair, management had refused to pay a professional makeup and hair artist because they wanted the sales person to look like an actual sales person and not some paid actor.
When she arrived, the manager did a double take because Celeste looked like B grade actor from an 80s soap opera.
Celeste held up her hand to stop him from complimenting her. “Oh, I know, I look fabulous but it’s okay, I did it myself so technically I’ve filled the brief.” She patted her heavily teased hair as she sauntered over to the cross on the floor. “Alright. What are we selling today?”
The director sighed as the manager continued to look gobsmacked. “Light tents.”
Years later, people watching the advertisement being filmed still marvel at the amount of mascara that managed to run from Celeste’s eyelashes and pool just above her quivering, red lacquered lip before she quietly walked over to the sales team. “I think someone else can take this one.”
And she left.
The light tents had won.