The blue light special had been discontinued at Kmart
for several years, before being revived in a most garish way in April 2001
. New signs, an ad campaign, even new blue shirts for employees. The employees don't really care.
The following is a list of things that Kmart employees are supposed to do (but rarely do, since dignity has a price and it's more than six bucks an hour):
- Find out what's on special today. Blue light specials occur every hour, on the hour. There's usually one a day, two on the weekends (alternating between the two every other hour).
- Turn on the blue light itself. Many stores have a small rolling cart with a blue light atop it, that can be moved to any point in the store. Many others have a hideous lighting fixture installed in the ceiling, in some central point of the store, usually visible from the entrance. If you stand under it and look up, staring into the lights, you may believe briefly that you can communicate with aliens. And a few stores have both, for that double-pronged discount attack.
- Turn on the music that accompanies the blue light. Yes, there's actually blue light music. As far as I can tell, it's just random tunes that have either "blue" or "light" or some variation thereof in the chorus. And they're mostly country music. (Since the speakers that accompany the giant blue light fixture of doom are painfully tinny, this is usually the second part of the process to get sacked.)
- (This is the first part of the process to get sacked - a random survey of local stores suggests this lasted about three minutes.) At the end of each of those announcements, Kmart employees are supposed to stop whatever they're doing, including helping a customer, clap thrice, and chant "Bluelight!" twice.
- Some random employee is supposed to repeat the announcement at five, ten, and fifteen minutes after the hour.
- At twenty after the hour, the music and lighting are shut down, and sanity returns for about forty minutes.
Note that this is merely the "official" version of how things are supposed to work. A more realistic approach is thus:
- Roll out a cart with whatever stuff happens to be available, and tell the Kmart supercomputer to make it really cheap for a day.
- Turn on the light, but not the music.
- Let it sit there 'til about five minutes before closing.