I’m subtle, so you probably haven’t picked up on it really, but there it is. I am not the retail industries number one fan. I have a new-found respect for people who work in this industry full-time, people who have to deal with people every day. BRRRR. Worst. Take me back to the cold lonely office.
No no. I jest (somewhat) people aren’t all bad, and neither is retail. The 50% off discount is pretty sweet (oh wait, did I need to pay my rent this month with that money? Woopsies!) and on occasion, it has allowed for some pretty creative ideas to form in my mind (like… lets start a family band!) as all those mindless hours folding clothes and getting sizes, and scanning and bagging let my mind roam of the great plains of imagination.
And as I have mentioned… I occasionally get to interact with human beings that make me think that we’re not all bad (just some of us).
This week was insanely long, and yet surprisingly quick, if that is at all possible. I think it was because the Thanksgiving long weekend loomed, and I had a whole lot of hanging around looking cool to do. The store I work in had a big sale Thursday and Friday and I racked up 18 hours of standing at a cash register processing people’s purchases. I felt like a zombie and forgot how to even have a real conversation with people or how to make connections with them, because the line to check out was out the shop and around the corner. One of the girls spent hours just standing guard at the lines to make sure people didn’t just walk off with stuff.
But earlier in the week I had two very strange and yet special encounters with people. One was a deaf lady who wanted to buy a leather Jacket. I am an extremely good lip reader, so conversing face to face was not a problem with this customer, but difficulties arose when she went into the change room and wanted to try different things on. Usually we only need knock and hand things over. Not possible in this case. The woman was very nice, petite and short with a big sparkly ring on the 2nd last finger of her left hand. We also ran into difficulties as she spoke with the accent of someone that has clearly been deaf their entire life. The word medium bewildered the both of us for a good thirty seconds and I was definitely the more embarrassed.
But she found what she needed and she was happy. Off she went into the world…leaving a piece of herself with me to think and muse about.
Then the following day, a woman with dark glasses and a gorgeous black labrador came in. Well dressed, nicely groomed, I noticed her standing in the middle of the shop fingering a couple of things here and there. I finally approached her and asked if I could help her. She asked me if we still had any of the gray work pants with the blue stripe through them that we used to have in the window. This woman was completely blind.
Her beautiful black lab wagged his tail slowly and I scratched his nose, aware that you are not meant to really fuss over guide dogs as they are working. I then spent a very strange half an hour with this woman, trying to gage what she might like by asking questions (we no longer had any more of the gray pants with the blue stripe through them). When I asked her if she was after anything in particular she replied:
“No, I’m just looking around.”
She wasn’t trying to be funny (you’ll notice that when I asked if she was after anything in particular I studiously avoided the word “look” because there have been instances in my life where I have been extremely insensitive and said things I shouldn’t have in the wrong settings. Like the time in Year 9, the first year at my new school in Hong Kong, when a young boy in a wheelchair asked if he could race a friend of mine the distance of the oval, and as they began I screamed at the top of my lungs “RUN DAVID RUN!” much to the horror of my politically correct Year 9 friends who were obviously, even then, more sensitive than I will ever be.)
So I didn’t laugh. Which was good. And instead I brought her things, described them the best I could (for a writer and someone who uses a lot of words…my vocabulary is shit…and I suck at life) and basically helped her “Look around”. She was so lovely, and was very thankful. For me, it was a surreal experience that I have been processing since the start of the week.
So there it is.
Tiny, weird exceptions to the I hate retail mantra I have taken up.
Oh yeah, and happy Thanksgiving…and stuff