"Listen up, everyone." Mandy had called an emergency meeting. The word "emergency" was
able to catch everyone’s attention lately.
"We have a crisis situation at our warehouse and we need your help. Our stores have been
depleted of merchandise to sell. Why, you ask? Because it’s all being stored in hundreds of
tractor trailers in the parking lot. We need to unload and distribute this entire inventory quickly.
So here’s where you come in. I need volunteers to go to the warehouse and help. Who would
like to volunteer?"
Every hand in the room shot up.
"Great. Meet in the parking lot tomorrow morning at six. Wear old clothes. A bus will take
us over there."
"How far away is it?’
"It’s just down the street, but there’s no room to park. The lot is full of tractor trailers—
remember? Six a.m. sharp. OK? Don’t be late."
Gary handed everyone a steaming hot cup of coffee as they boarded the bus in the
morning. Violet handed out truck numbers. Each trailer had been numbered from 1 to 439.
Curly had taken care of that task. Even he was surprised by the number. Teams of four were
assigned to three trucks each. If each team could clear out all three of their trucks, it would be a
very good day for Big Top Supplies. They were keeping their fingers crossed.
As the bus began its journey to the warehouse, Violet began to bark out instructions. But
first they had the required and ceremonious blowing of the kazoo.
"On the count of three. One. Two. Three." Bzzzzztttt.
"Each team has also been given a list of store numbers and addresses. The contents of each
truck must be inventoried. This is your inventory sheet."
She waved a pink preprinted pad over her head.
"It doesn’t really matter what we send to these stores, only that we send them a variety of
merchandise. If you open a truck that’s filled with one item, then start unloading. Share the
contents with your neighbors. Then take the yellow pad."
She began to wave that in the air for all to see.
"Log the contents of your truck. One copy goes inside, two copies go to Curly. Curly is
coordinating the drivers who will move the trucks and get Big Top back in business!"
Everyone on the bus was screaming and cheering and waving their arms wildly in the air.
"Go Big Top!"
"Down with Three Ring!" "Go Big Top!"
"Hey, where’s Tiffany when you need her?"
A little squeak came from the back seat. "I’m here." She waved her pompoms. "I’ve got
laryngitis. Doctor says no talking for a week."
Noses were glued to the bus windows as they arrived at the warehouse.
"Where’s the building?"
"Oh, it’s in there. For now, you’ll just have to trust me on that one."
Cassie turned to Mandy. The pep rally spirit had been drained from her face. "This is serious,
isn’t it?"
"It’s really serious. But we’re a team and we’re going to work it out as a team. It’s not going
to be easy, but I know we have what it takes."
"We do, Mandy. Look at Tiffany. She’s sick and even she came to help."
"Then let’s get to work, my friend Cassie! Let’s get to work!"
The treasure hunt began. Whoops and hollers could be heard every few seconds as some
new gadget was uncovered. They found balloons, shoes, magic tricks and gags, hula hoops,
clown makeup, stilts, and wigs in a rainbow of colors, among many other things.
Tony came running across the parking lot, if it could be called running—it was more like
zigzagging between all the tractor trailers.
"Mandy, I’ve been writing sales training manuals for almost ten years. I have never even
seen half of this stuff before. This is the best training class I’ve ever had."
"Tony, that’s fabulous! This is pretty fun, isn’t it? I feel like a kid in a candy store."
"Me too. It’s hard work, but we’re having a lot of laughs. We’ll get Big Top back on top,
you wait and see. We can do it."
It was energizing to see everyone so pumped up. It was only noon and already they had sent
thirteen trucks on their way.
Plain Bob was getting the first truck. Mandy and Violet wrote a personal note to him and
taped it to one of the boxes. His store was on the list for a second truckload, so when they finally
uncovered the circus peanuts, they were going to make sure he got a double order.
"Ooooooo, gross. What’s that?"
A group had gathered around the back of one of the trucks. Some kind of orange goo was
oozing out of the bottom of the door. Butane Bob and Curly were trying to lift the door, without
"It’s stuck. What is that stuff, anyway?" Even Butane Bob was grossed out by the strange
gooey substance. He moved very carefully so as not to get any of it on him. He started waving for
Gary to come and help them.
When Gary saw the orange goop, he said, "Why do I always have to be the one that gets
"Because you’re good at fixing things. I only put out fires."
"Why don’t you just light this up and see what happens?" Gary was not looking forward to
entering the mass of unidentifiable glop.
He found a crow bar a few tractor trailers down the row. It had been a struggle all morning
to get some of the old, rusty, dry, unoiled doors to open.
"Try this."
The three men were standing on the end of the truck, tugging and pulling and pushing.
Finally Gary wedged the crow bar into the tiny bit of space between the door and the floor that
the pair had been able to manage. Butane Bob’s face was the color of his clothing. Gary was
sweating bullets.
"Too bad this isn’t a padlock. I’d have us inside in twenty seconds flat." said Curly, who was
as red as Butane Bob’s clothing and sweating bullets.
Creak, creak, creak. Little by little the roll-up door started to move. One last, big push and
the door shot up like a flash. Orange goop was everywhere, dripping from the ceiling, popping
out of the seams of cardboard cartons, lying in big globs all over the floor. They all stood staring
at it, afraid to touch it for fear of the unknown.
Butane Bob was not going to get dirty—that was a given. Curly looked as if he were going
to have a heart attack, huffing and puffing, barely able to stand. That left Gary. He took a deep
breath and plowed inside like a freight train. He grabbed the first box and yanked it out of its
sticky spot. As he turned the box, the words "Circus Peanuts" and "Keep in a Cool Place" came
into view.
"Circus peanuts! How long d’ya think these things been sittin’ here, bakin’ in the sun?"
panted Curly.
"By the looks of things, a long time. Is this what happens to them once they get in your
stomach? They turn into a gooey mess? Kind of reminds me of an old sci-fi movie—blobs of
weird alien matter, bubbling and growing, taking over the planet."