Old Story I Pulled from the Vault. #1

This was from Job 2, 3 years ago.

Today I had the pleasure of being witness to a dad shopping with his two tween age daughters. They were both in the awkward stage of growing when their tummies don’t match their legs, their hair doesn’t match their heads and their teeth and noses and eyes haven’t grown into their faces. Glasses being pushed repeatedly back ( I think I knew that girl a long time ago…me). They were precious to him shown by his reaction to them. I was at fault when I first saw him thinking him to be a sweaty, messy man, eager for this time to be over, blabbing on his cell, but soon I could sense he was a different type of fellow. I was guilty of misjudging him by his appearance (a sin that I have been victim to so many times myself..shame on me), but as he hung up his cell and began talking to his girls, explaining who he had been speaking to, I could tell he wouldn’t mind me saying the next thing. I told him how blessed he was to have these daughters and he agreed and said there were three more at home as well as a son. He told me that when he was 13 he had told his mother that he wanted a baker’s dozen of children. He looked right into their faces and he spoke to them as he said that he is happy in this world with less than half of what he had wished as they were everything he had hoped for. My, my. The girls looked at him as they had heard this before, yet were not sick of it and believed every word. While the one whose turn it was to have him buy some clothes on clearance, tried on clothes, we chatted, I watched and listened. The other danced a bit to the store music as they waited. I over heard him tell her that she is just like her mother in that she looks good in everything she puts on and was happy that she had come along to give some support to her sister and to him. I thought it was so sweet to say lovely things about his wife, her mama, to this daughter. What a good example of a person. The waiting daughter went on to complain about the gym teacher and I thought he was going to take the daughter’s side as he was listening so intently. I smiled to myself when he replied that the teacher was very right and all he could hear was unwarranted complaints. (Thank you for listening to your girl, and as a former teacher, thank you for backing up the teacher after you heard the story.) He smiled at her and touched the end of her nose with his finger. Then the sister came out in intervals with her selections. He praised each selection and inspected it for coverage and comfort. He never said one thing about how she fit in the clothes, but rather how the clothes enhanced her or could be worn with this or that to be even better for her. He suggested leggings and maybe a belt, but not in a way that detracted or made her feel anything but special and loved. If there were any faults it was the clothes that didn’t measure up to her and not the other way around. I called on the help of a co-worker to lead them to find the extra items and to share in the opportunity to hear this group talk to each other. I do believe that the girl that got was walking on air as they left. Her helping sister, who was roughly the same age, was not left out, was not begging for herself, but had rightly been been paid attention too and was part of the adventure. Thanks big, sweaty, unkept, fashion nightmare dad. You are awesome and I wish there were a million of you.

Job 2

Today I found out that I would not be returning to Job 2. I loved Job 2. I am not coming back as I got a job in my previous career in a different vein. It is full time, it pays more than I have gotten for similar work before, and I get benefits. I thought I might have another two weeks before this new job kicked in, but I was being delusional. I had to quit.

I called it Job 2 since I started writing about my jobs on Facebook so I could have my readers keep my jobs straight. This one was Job 2 because it was the job I did second in the day.  I have been there 6 years and loved most every day. It was the job I got when I was still teaching to supplement our income and pay for going on our oldest son and daughter-in-law’s destination wedding.

I had never worked retail before except that tiny stint in an optical store. I went on a cattle call hiring event for this store that was opening in our town. That was memorable. I had lived a very sheltered life teaching in a parochial school where I expected people to make good decisions about the clothing they would choose for an interview. It was entertaining to see the get ups people deemed appropriate. Retail life taught me more.

I was then surprised to get a call from the new store manager wanting to hire me.  I would come to think a lot of her. She has gone onto another store and some of the current managers don’t hold her in high regard, but she was always sweet and kind to me and seriously funny. She had come from management from another major retailer. She worked beside me many nights and we commiserated. She was always stylishly dressed, but her feet were a mess because she had spent all her years in cute shoes walking the floors of department stores. I came to know the pain she had in her feet sans the cute shoes.

The first person that I met as a regular worker there was LX. She was sitting with another at orientation and since she looked so friendly I thought I would ask if I may sit by her. She just left the store for another one of our stores way across the country. She grew in her positions and did a great job. Hard working, frustrated by the grind, but always nice to me. The store isn’t as efficient without her.

While we were setting up the store I met ZS. We were putting keeters on all the hangers, learning the departments and talking, when we she said that she didn’t mind working with older people (generally me) and I told her back that I enjoyed working with younger people (pretty much everyone else that worked in the store). This seems odd at the time as I was under the assumption that all younger workers would avoid me like the plague. ZS and I became fast friends, despite my age, and she was the one that got me a job where I later referred to it as Job 1. She has moved away, but she still is close to my heart and will be moving back soon.

The one person who might be a smidgen older than I am is such a hard and capable worker. She is always good to talk to and commiserate with. I usually looked for her when I came to work to say hello. She is now one of 3 of the original team that remains now that I am done. She can be counted on to do all jobs in the store and do them well. I will miss her.

Another person who began with us is so kind and interesting that her acceptance of me, although I am old enough to be her mom, is heartwarming. She is one of the only people who I know who has face piercings that look so great. Her hair is usually in fun colors, like apricot and blue and her glasses are always interesting but not distracting. She is one of those people who dress in an original style that doesn’t scream, “Look at me! Look at me!” She just is and I appreciate that trait. She taught me about Micellar cleansing water, she introduced me to her wonderful mom and certain protein bars that are good. We have discussed our similar personality issues, podcasts, color theory, pollution, jobs, on-going interests, deodorant, weddings, charcoal toothpaste, book making, dogs, cats, mothers and daughters and her art. She is an artist that had a show with her work of porcelain. Since she works at a bar that I used to also go to as a youth, I will definitely see her again. I am one of her biggest fans. Everyone would be better for knowing her.

One of my managers has been there since I started. She has worked herself up in the company and is doing well. I really enjoy talking to her and have been so happy that she has let me into her circle of friends. She is interesting and thoughtful. She helps me see things in a different way than I would not have if I didn’t know her. I trust her and she trusts me. That is important in a friendship. Her age is young and she likes me even though I am not. We will always be friends. Besides, when she gets a ring on it, I will get a license to be the officiant to marry her and her guy.

When I started there a woman that was head of one of the departments that I often worked in. She trained me and we became fast friends. She is smart and personable and capable of any job, but has since moved on. She has a big heart for all and shows it in her words and actions. We have had a glass of wine or two here and there outside of work and I am thrilled to be one of her friends. She is always in my corner.

Many of the young people I have meet there were in college to become teachers and have now done that. They are assets to their schools and I have always been happy to know them. They are glued to my heart.

One of my favorites had even offered her contact to get me protection or muscle when I had the stalker. That is loyalty! Here is the thing, it wasn’t just talk, if I needed help she would have gotten me help. She knows that if she needed anything she would just have to call and I would help. She would do the same for me.

The culture of the place you work at is framed by the people that are there. I hit the jackpot at Job 2. Many have moved on so I root for them from afar. Just like one of them that used to make me laugh by doing a sidekick while walking down the aisle, their memory makes me smile. One of them called me Ma. One of them told me that I was the only person they knew that had been married that long. They tell me about their unexpected pregnancies. They post pictures of their latest loves, lost weekends, concerts, engagements, weddings and babies. They tell me that I might be the only Christian they know that isn’t weird, or “you know…so judgemental”. Little do they realize that I am judgemental just like they are, but am harder on myself, just like them. They teach me to make Lompia. I call them to ask where they got something. They call me to find out about podcasts or they tell me that I surprise them as I am not how they thought I would be. They discuss what deodorant won’t give you cancer. I make them smell the candles that smell like clean men. We have talked about boob sweat and pimples. They play along when I play the celebrity look alike game and don’t call me lame. They tell me about how their mom’s have raised them and how their dad could never get it together. They tell me how it was when they were nursing their dying father and tried to be the rock for their mom or another how she found her father in the backyard dead of a heart attack. One even told me how she was arrested for being in a fight. I have made the mistake of not attending a senior recital I was invited to because I had made homemade salve, cooking the lard ingredient all day so I smelled like a ham sandwich and couldn’t get the scent off of me. I missed the chance to clap for her. They let me know about their dreams and goals. They show me their scars from cutting. They tell me that their boyfriend cheated on them. One tells me about the new rapper while he colors at break. I talk to the new ones regarding not spending their entire paycheck on clothes. They discuss their relatives, their majors, internships and what they are going to do when they get out of high school. I tell him about Zentangle and free apps you can get on your phone to help to stay calm. I hear about Dr. Who, Bob’s Burgers and the best dog treats to buy. I urge a worker who is young and moves like a snail by telling him that I am walking faster than him and he tells me it is because he only eats meat and no carbs. I roll my eyes. They show me the cut they just got and ask me to decide if it is deep enough to get stitches. They ask me to go to the bar. They ask me why people give money at funerals and if their butt looks ok in that outfit. They text me pictures of the wedding venue they are at.  They ask me to go out to eat. They ask me to read the announcements because they are too scared and I make them do it and cheer them on. They tell me about their anxiety and mental health.  I tell them about mine. I am proud for them when they get the jobs they want and the one a coat. They collectively have given me wonderful experiences, really good stories, some lasting friendships and I will dearly miss them.







Banned Books and Rae Dunn

One of my colleagues made a display at Job 1 of children’s books that have been banned in our country over the centuries. I knew of a few that are/were considered controversial, but didn’t know that list was that long. I had read all of the ones displayed. The colleague put caution tape around them with a sign to tell people about the display and let patrons know they could still check them out. She even put a little paper in each one to briefly explain why it was banned in some areas.

Today a woman was walking by the display as I was too and said, “That is horrible!” I stopped to take in her continued thoughts and then gathered that she thought that we were banning these displayed books. She seemed literate and a native speaker. I pointed out the sign that explained the display. She still thought they were banned. I grabbed the displayed copy of “Little Women” flipping open to the place that this little blurb was placed explaining that it had been banned in some locations because the characters were promoting feminism, that they were no longer banned and she could check any of them out.

Her parting statement was, “That is horrible. I can’t believe that you are banning these books! Winne the Pooh is there!” Sigh.

There is a woman at Job 2 that comes to that business from the time it opens until about 2 or 3p. She is looking for dishes by a company called Rae Dunn. We get the random pieces in at the store and apparently it is highly collectable. I just read that Rae Dunn is an artist in the Bay area of California that has a style that is making people collect her work for home use or buying it from our store and selling it on the internet for a higher price.

I first noticed the rage last year when we got this graphic style written on everything from pet bowls to office supplies to tableware.  This one lady came in twice or  three times a day to see what we had and sometimes bought. She would ask every day if we had more, if the truck was done being unloaded yet or what time that day we would have things displayed. I thought that was annoying then.

Now we have this lady who frequents our store every single day for hours. The goal of the store is to sell merchandise, but she seems a little stalkerish. I have listened to her talk to other frequent Rae Dunn hunters about what dish they are looking for and what color. She says that she collects it for herself, but I have gotten tidbits on the air that she is part of a gang of Rae Dunn shoppers that search for it as a group swapping, trading and selling. The other day she swapped business cards with another woman so she could get in on the selling. The lady from last year still comes in about twice a day and confers with the stalker. It is like a drug deal for dish swappers.

This would be fine, but she quizzes every worker every half hour about the state of the Rae Dunn. She seems like we are keeping it from her. I told her that our goal is to sell the merchandise and we are keeping nothing from her….although we are getting so annoyed that we are thinking of telling her nothing.

She told me that other stores hide the pieces like Easter eggs or that they line up outside of the store in the morning taking a number so first come first served and one item of that to a customer. What store has time for that? Corporate even sent down a rule that we can’t hold any pieces on request from phone inquiries because they are in such high demand.

Some lady got a whole cart full of pieces the other day because the stalker was in the bathroom when the cart load was put out. The stalker was very upset with the woman who took all the pieces and wouldn’t share. Meh.

The stalker woman told another worker that she had even stayed home from camping with her family so she could come to the store to get the pieces every day. What a huge waste of time!!!! Dishes? So when she is on her deathbed, she would trade that time she could have had with them for…… dishes?

It is almost as if these women are just walking around not paying attention to what is really going on. Both clueless.