Hired and Fired the Same Day

by Judy on November 26, 2013

The original National Theater School in Montreal

The original National Theater School in Montreal

The employer must have thought that we drama students were pushovers and would be eager to work for little pay (and he was right). It was my first job offer away from home when I was studying at the National Theater School in Montreal. I remember it well, because I was hired and fired on the same day.

Marilyn Lightstone

Marilyn Lightstone

I had a few other spare time jobs then too, (like working as a cocktail waitress at the Calypso Lounge with my dear friend, the talented Marilyn Lightstone, and acting on small budget dramas on television).

It’s probably because my husband, Tink Robinson, needs a new tie that memories are surfacing about this particular unusual job experience. It was 1961. Since I came from a town in southern Alberta, it was quite a culture shock when I moved to the big eastern city. However, I was thrilled to be able to stay with my uncle, Dr. Don Armstrong, Professor of Economics at McGill University, and aunt, Dr. Muriel Armstrong, Associate Dean of Sir George University. The Theater School had just begun the year before, so the premises were not fancy like they are today. I had envisioned the School complete with Greek columns, hanging plants and a marble pathway leading to the main door. Imagine my surprise when my uncle and aunt dropped me off on opening day. The Theater School was on the Rue de la Montagne on the upper floors of an old Legion building. However, magic happened in that place, which I will relate in future blogs.

(L to R) Eddie Gilbert (teacher), Carole (Zorrow) Hawes, Judy Armstrong, Judy (Callen) Kingstone, Michael Ball, Helen Conway Marmo

(L to R) Eddie Gilbert (teacher), Carole (Zorrow) Hawes, Judy Armstrong, Judy (Kallen) Kingstone, Michael Ball, Helen Conway Marmo

So there I am, sitting in class with my fellow theater students when the hire-a-student offer arrives. The work venue is a small long narrow clothing store for men on La Rue St. Catherine, just around the corner from the school. The job description – standing in the store window on a busy Friday night and giving a pitch to sell men’s ties (kind of like a live talking mannequin). The purpose is to draw people into the store so they will buy more expensive items. I’m thinking, “Well I can do that – after all, my Dad owns a clothing store – this will be a piece of cake!” My hand shoots up in the air. “Pick me, pick me!” I am hired on the spot. I have to dress in my own theater school standard attire (the basic black leotard and tights). The employer will provide me with a skirt made completely of men’s ties. A sound system will broadcast my voice out to the street.

It is Thursday night and I have the whole evening to prepare. Suddenly, I think to myself, “Why not combine the sales pitch with a song and dance routine!” So, I proceed to write 10 songs all about ties (in those days, I didn’t create my own melodies – I just wrote really tacky lyrics to well-known songs). I semi-memorize the words. Finally Friday arrives – my big debut. I have stars in my eyes. “This is the beginning of my career out on the road. Next stop – Broadway!!!”

Setting up for the tie promotion. Check out the sale price!

Setting up for the 94 cent tie promotion.

Picture this – a slightly plump teenager in black leotards & tights, in the store window, singing and dancing away and smile, smile, smiling! “Yes, I can see it all now. I will have top billing in this musical with my name up on the marquis!” I start wiggling my hips. The ties are swinging back and forth, jiggling, bouncing, skipping, criss-crossing, banging into each other …

(I  begin singing to the tune of “Tavern in the Town”)

Be a classy kind of guy, tra la la
Walk right in and buy a tie, tra la la …

(then a little naughtier – to the tune of “Hello My Baby”)

I like a guy who’s wearin’ a tie
especially when he ties one on

I pose and bat my eyelashes

I pose and bat my eyelashes

Now I’m really starting to get into it, especially because I am drawing such a large crowd. Even people driving by in their cars are stopping to watch. I pose, I vamp, bat my eyelashes, sit down, stand up. Then I begin improvising on-the-spot choreography. I decide to throw in a few high kicks … Rrrrrrrrr-ripppppp!! The crotch split open in my tights! Ahhhh …. I keep dancing (thighs together). Now I bend forward from the waist, head at my knees, but the friggin’ flappin’ ties whack me in the face. I stand upright again, eyes smarting, and I forget the lyrics so I make them up on the spot to the tune of Eddie Cantor’s song “If You Knew Suzie” …

Just hug your fellow
In ties of yellow
Oh, Oh, Oh what a guy
Dressed in khaki
is this fair lackey
Oh! Oh!
Holy Moly, this is tacky …

Now I’m running out of rhyme options, so I skip to a big extravaganza finale. I start to camp it up and sing in a strip tease rhythm. I rip open the Vecro fastening on the waistline and start swinging the tie skirt above my head …

Come and get your tie-ses
in everybody’s sizes
Ooh, would you look at that guy!
Oh yeah

(turn and vamp to the right – adding a few hip bumps)

Badoom, bum, badoom, bum
Badoom, bum, Badoom bum
(turn left) Ahhhhhhhh !!!!!!!!

Suddenly, I am looking right into the face of a policeman! He scares the livin’ daylights out of me! Apparently, he has been trying to get my attention (to no avail) so he finally climbs up in the store window with me. He is a very tall 6 ft. something, but is bending his knees to be at my eye level on my last Badoom!

He informs me in no uncertain terms, that my ‘spectacle’ has not only created a bottleneck of people on the sidewalk, but it has caused a huge traffic jam and a car accident! I look out the window, and sure enough, there it is – a fender bender with the drivers out on the street giving each other the you-know-which finger. The officer shouts the order to shut down immediately. I start to protest … “What? I’m just getting started, and look at that crowd of happy shoppers outside!” (Note to self: DON’T argue with a policeman). Then the owner starts gesturing to me (in Italian), accompanied by a string of not-to-be-printed complaints. He specifically emphasizes that not even one person has come into the store! Everybody would rather watch from the street!

I am fired on the spot. Like a blown-up balloon suddenly releasing its air, my Broadway dreams haphazardly spurt and fizzle aimlessly about the room and land in a wrinkled shapeless rubber blob on the floor. Ah the naivety of youth. But guess what? I get paid a whole $5!! I am rich! Yes, I will have a stage career after all!
Stay tuned …




The crowd begins to gather. Next step - Broadway!

The crowd begins to gather. Next step – Broadway!

I would love you to look at some of my other blogs to read the stories behind my songs. You can also find out more about my Services and Events on my Spirit to Story to Song Website Home

While you are there, enjoy my Gift to you – a Free Download of my song, “Give Yourself Love“.

To Listen to Song Clips or Download Songs from my CD’s, click on links below


Click on group of CD covers to download or purchase CD

Inside of Me

Let Your Heart Sing

Flying Free

Time to Shine

Kids (for all ages) by Tink and Judy

Sing All the Way Home (Vol. 1)

© Judy Armstrong 2013




{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda Maki November 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Hilarious! What a great story, Judy!


Judy November 27, 2013 at 5:48 am

Hi Linda, thanks so much for reading this blog. Your comment means so much to me, especially because you are such an awesome writer!
Always your fan,


Catherine November 26, 2013 at 9:57 pm

You are the best! Hilarious and yet I can so relate…well maybe not to the extreme of your drama…ha ha…but it’s amazing what we will do when we are inspired! You were and you still are inspiring!
Great post…made my day


Judy November 27, 2013 at 5:47 am

Thanks Catherine. Do you know that you made my day too! :)


brenda November 28, 2013 at 8:24 am

So cute Judy! I can see you there, and you are not chubby as a teenager…but a cute and energetic actress…..learning and earning your way through the evening! I think it was their loss to let you go…what a wonderful story! I enjoyed it sooo much! The things we do to stay on our lifes journey, lots of creativity and how nice to bring in song, dance, and (ties)…to use as the subject of our venture. I love your story and i know you entertained the audiences and knowing how easy it was to draw in the crowd would have given you more confidence in your career choice!! You are fabulous in any role you undertake! I saw you at the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary when you played Marie in the Sound of Music, and you were awesome…so delightful! I enjoyed your story very much….brought a smile into my heart! Big Hugs…Brenda


Judy November 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Hi Brenda, yes this was definitely a most unique and memorable first job away from home! I had forgotten that you saw me in Sound of Music. Good memories there too! Hugs back, Judy


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