Sunday, November 28, 2010

On Adorable Kids

The highlight of my day today? A little boy.

His parents were showing him the cologne as they passed by. He was pumped about this, and was smelling all the different scent cards we had out and giving opinions and being a very good little shopper. When they came around to the register I got him a little sample spray of one of his favorites (with mom's permission, of course). He was so totally thrilled by it. His face lit up, and he held it up to his chest and said in his best manly voice:


Kids rock.

On Crying at Work

Basically, crying at work is a bad idea.

So it's a good thing I haven't yet. I almost did tonight, but I'm sure it was a fluke. I cry VERY easily (I get that tingling-nose, going-to-cry feeling any time the situation makes me look less than perfect, which is a lot of the time), but at work the last three weeks I've been the most cheerful, positive person on the floor. Boundless optimism is at my beck and call! I am not the sad sack of tears that I am at home where no one can see me, because crying is just not good for business! And I was doing very well at being cheerful and rolling with the punches, and I was proud of myself!

Then Black Friday hit, my teenage coworker started dumping her relationship drama on me and wanting advice (Ha!), and the area manager threw a fit today because we hadn't done all the things we should have been doing two weeks ago but which she didn't think to tell us about until Friday, which meant all of us spent the day running frantically around the department to please her (and it didn't work anyway, but if we sat still she would've bitten our heads off). I've worked nonstop since the 22nd, unless you count Thanksgiving as a "day off", which I don't because it was nonstop work here trying to make the house presentable so Rick's grandma could visit without me dying of embarrassment at not being able to keep the house livable. My first actual nothing-to-do day off in a week is tomorrow, and then I got asked to stay an extra hour and help clean up another department. Which is why I almost broke down and sobbed tonight in front of a really nice manager who just happened to get flustered at me.

Thankfully I got a minute alone and pasted my smile back on. I had to laugh the other day when one of the regular salesladies told me that I was always happy. I put on a happy face at work because I like to be liked (although the job's not that bad, so smiling does come easy). It works, but now I'm stuck with the reputation of always being happy... uh-oh. I get the feeling sooner or later I'm going to have a bad day, and they're going to think the world is ending.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


More fun at work today. I was inexplicably happy, and it was easy to be happy because all my coworkers were happy too and we were BUSY for the first time since I started work. We had a lot of gift sets to put together and our manager was frazzled and my full-time coworkers were all over the place finding boxes and printing labels and setting up towers of neatly arranged cologne at the mall entrance. I put together a lot of boxes. Shiny boxes with neatly tied ribbon (my ribbon-tying skills ROCK, yo), colored plastic containers with funky designs, little clear plastic display boxes. Those suckers are a PAIN to unfold (they come flat, and snap open and chew up your knuckles on their nasty stamped-plastic edges).

What amused me even more than boxes, though (yes, I am so easily amused that shoving cologne into shiny boxes works for me) was the fact that I am apparently not supposed to be happy about working seasonal retail and I definitely wasn't -expected- to be happy without some kind of outside influence. Co-workers jokingly tossed ideas back and forth - She's new. It'll wear off. Do you drink? Did something really good happen before work?

Nope, I just had a good day. Until I left, anyway. Then it was cold and windy and I had to wait for my ride (who was late because he was working on the Jeep, yay!), and I got home and the house needed cleaning and I wished I'd stayed in the store with the boxes. Making pleasing little gift boxes is so much more fun than cleaning litterboxes...

Monday, November 22, 2010

This is a short post.

I really need to quit rambling. My blog entries are so long, even I don't want to go back and re-read them!

So here's a quick update to say I'm still alive; I'm behind on my NaNoWriMo wordcount by nearly 20,000 words, I wrote 6700 words yesterday in a mad bid to regain some sense of control over this month and I am working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday (BLACK FRIDAY) this week. I'll probably start panicking about this on Tuesday night.

At least working at the Mens' Fragrances counter has provided me with some stories. It's terribly quiet, since cologne does not in fact have massive discounted sales like the clothing departments do. Customers also always seem to show up at the time we are paying the least attention. Granted, when there is -nothing- to do because you've cleaned the glass, tidied the displays, wandered three times around the counters and sampled half the scents it's easy to let your mind drift.

Anyway, Funny Moments #1:
I take great joy in watching most of my older, commissioned (I am not on commission!) co-workers wander aimlessly around the displays while I am helpfully asking the CUSTOMER making an appearance on the other side of the counter if I can help him with something. It's like wiggling a bit of bloody bait in a shark tank the way everyone else jumps and zeros in on the poor unsuspecting shopper. It helps that 4/5 of the ladies I've met so far are shorter than I am, and the gift set boxes we have stacked on all the counters are up to my nose. The others can barely see over them, and rely on me to tell them when people appear. I suppose this is in some way wrong or mean to find it so amusing, but we're all bored as hell and it's probably nicer to address the customer rather than A) wait for the others to notice him or B) wave frantically around the other end of the display for someone else to help him because I'm technically not a salesperson, just a "ringer" (read: cashier).

And Funny Moments #2:
The Prada Guy. He was a late-40s-ish man who came by during one of my long shifts, and since the super-helpful older ladies were at lunch/talking across the aisle at ladies' fragrances (behind another large stack of stuff) I decided I'd take him on. He wanted Prada. Easy enough; we only have one Prada set in stock. I found it after he followed me around two circuits of the cases (cut me some slack, it was like my third day!), which would have been funny enough since having a customer follow my obviously clueless ass around the fragrance counters has clear comedic value but when he found it, the following (approximately) happened:

Prada Guy: OH YES. He proceeds to pick up the tester bottle and stuff the nozzle halfway up his noze while inhaling.*
Me, the awesome saleswoman: We have this great gift set. Only for the holidays! It's got x, y, and z in it! And if you buy, you get a free toiletries bag in either pink or blue!
Prada Guy: Sprays both wrists and his chest with the tester bottle, and holds first one wrist, then the other, then both up to his nose, inhaling deeply each time and almost -moaning- with delight. I'm trying not to giggle at his... enthusiasm. This is the best scent *sniff* they've made in the last thirty years. *sniff, sniff* I love this scent. It is *Sniff* SO *SNIFF* amazing.
Me: So, what do you think? The set's a great buy. It's worth $dollars, which is only $fewdollars more than the bottle on its own. Are you getting just this today?
PG at this point gets the look that I'm beginning to associate with all the hit-and-run "just browsing" customers, which means that no, he's not going to pay for the $80 scent he just bathed in, but I'm one *SNIFF* away from rolling on the carpet, so he's forgiven. "I'll be right back, I'm gonna hit up the cash machine." he says, and hurries off toward menswear (there is definitely no cash machine there!), still sniffing his wrists. He's not to be seen again for the last 4 hours of my shift. By the time I settle myself behind a suitably tall display of gift sets and start giggling, my coworker is back from lunch, and I giggled so hard telling her about him that I think she thought I had been huffing the Prada too.

I can only hope that as things pick up going into the holiday season I get more funny customers and very few of the Mean Ones I've heard about.

*I am not exaggerating. Much. He was really intent on sniffing that bottle.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Missing Nature

Having started a seasonal retail position on Saturday, I am not looking forward to this fall/winter. I finally gave in to the need for money, and idealism be damned (for now - after Christmas I probably won't have any more hours with the store, so I'll go back to being unemployed, delivering snarky commentary on the terrible plight of retail workers and dreaming about the awesome jobs I might eventually run into if I just hold out a little longer...)

Anyway, I had yesterday and today off, and after some much-needed sleeping in and some much-enjoyed lounging, I spent this afternoon reading the blog of one of my camp friends' moms, who is an awesome woman and someone I wish I could spend more time with. Unfortunately, she still lives in New York. Fortunately, she's taken up photography as well as hanging around camp and updates several(!) blogs with pictures of the area for me to oooh and ahhh over, including my favorite place in the world - Camp Timbercrest (here is the Timbercrest Blog). I miss that camp SO much. I've written about camp before. I think it's awesome, and Timbercrest is the most awesome camp. I still get teary-eyed when I think about all the time I spent there and all the friends I made, and the fact that I can't just get in the car and drive over makes me feel empty deep down.

See, I really love nature. "The woods" has been my favorite place for many, many years and I habitually seek out quiet, nature-y places when I'm upset. Unfortunately, since I started college I haven't found many of those places. I've been living in cities and large towns, cut off from the best parks by a couple dozen miles (unlike my mom's house, where we had a forest in the back yard), without a car for most of that time, and without anyone to share the trails. For years Rick and I have been saying: "It's spring, we should go camping soon!", and then: "we'll go camping this summer", followed by: "well, maybe we'll make it this fall", and finally: "it's too cold now. We'll definitely go next year." Of course, there's always something in the way of just throwing the sleeping bags in the Jeep and heading for Laurel Highlands. Invariably, I spend all summer humming camp songs and staring at state park websites and all winter wondering if running around in the cold is really as bad as I remember it being and whether any of the parks are open for winter hikes. I keep thinking I might give in and join a local hiking club, but I'd probably feel bad when I showed up with my 6-year-old fraying-at-the-edges hiking boots and plain cheap water bottle, getting winded on a 5-mile "easy" hike while the rest of group is hauling state-of-the-art frame packs and energy gel drinks on 30-mile hikes around the Allegheny park system. Is there a "casual nature walks" club for 20-somethings?

It would be better if I had a camp or a park here that feels as reassuring as Timbercrest did. I might even quit bugging Rick about camping if I could walk or bike to the nearest large stand of trees whenever I needed a nature break. Pittsburgh's very own Riverview park is within dog-walking distance and is a pretty big park, for being located on the edge of a city... but you can still hear the cars on the bordering highways when you're wandering the trails there. Call me a sentimental fool, but city noises just ruin the whole "oneness with nature" thing. And I don't have any hiking/biking/exploring buddies, which is to say: I'm lazy, and without anyone to encourage me to go out and explore the city's green spaces (and there are a lot!), I will sit in the house, complaining about the cold and the fact that it's supposed to rain all week and that I'm sore and tired from work, etc, and I won't be able to drag myself out for that utterly revitalizing walk. November is a lonely time for walking by one's self. Only nuts go out on a day like today, when it's grey and muddy from yesterday's rain, and windy and only 45*. I'm a nut, but I'm a lazy nut. I need other nuts to drag me out of my shell (pun intended).

So: Anyone local feel like making a new friend for some trail walking this winter? I don't bite (hard), and I can identify poison ivy!

Monday, November 08, 2010

I forgot to title this post.

I haven't been feeling that great the last few days. Actually, I haven't been feeling great the last few months. I'm mopey, I'm solemn, I'm drab. I've been avoiding all my chores (although this is usual for me, and it's hard to tell whether it's gotten worse or I've just gotten more aware of it now that we own a house and I can't blame the landlord for any of the home maintenance issues that keep popping up and getting avoided because I am lazy and don't need to start yet another project before we finish the guest room and the braided rag rug for the basement and getting the dryer hooked up and figuring out whether we want to tile the bathroom wall opposite the tub) and fighting off sinus infections and sleeping way more than is usual or healthy (and I'm not sure why, but I can't afford to go to a doctor just because I'm sleepy), and griping about cold weather setting in and generally not feeling like doing anything, even taking the dog to the park, which is sad because she LOVES the park and she LOVES going on walks and I have decided that if I want to get into any kind of shape that isn't "round", I am going to need to make some lifestyle changes, and I had expected that getting a dog would help me do that. Boy, was I ever wrong. I was sad to discover that dogs acquire the habits of their owners, and not the other way 'round, so dragging myself out for walks is still just as difficult, only I get twice the guilt trip (once from myself and once from the dog) when I don't do it.

Anyway, at least SarahThe is making me feel better. I found her blog a few months ago and bookmarked it because I wanted to read the archives. Reading about other peoples' lives makes me feel better. I am an introvert and a people-watcher, and I am a very dedicated blog stalker, when I'm feeling up to reading. So tonight I finally felt like reading, and got through several pages of blog posts from 2008, and with each one I've been smiling a little more and giggling a little more. SarahThe is funny, and fresh, and honest, and I am enjoying reading her posts from 2008.

The dog is also making me feel better. Mystra is not generally my go-to girl for making me smile, since mostly she does what we do - flops around the house, plays games with the cats and eats. She whines when she has to go out and barks to get our attention when the cats try to sleep on top of the fridge. She's very enthusiastic about guarding the house from both teenagers down the street and cats on the fridge. She has recently figured out, however, that she's able to get our attention for play too! And because we have recently changed our schedules (we are prone to staying up until 3am when not otherwise occupied by work, and the husband JUST got a job), she is used to playing with us long after normal people with day jobs have put their dogs to bed.

So tonight, just now at 12:20 AM, when I should have been in bed 2 hours ago because I have an interview on Tuesday morning and need to be awake before noon for once, she came walking up to my desk, fixed me with the "EXCUSE ME" stare, and proclaimed, loudly: "IT'S PLAYTIME." Then she started chewing on my hand, because when there are no toys nearby her idea of play (thanks to my ever-thoughtful husband, who thinks that wrestling with the dog is the best fun ever and should be encouraged never mind that she's 40 lbs of enthusiasm and teeth!) is to play catch-the-hand. She's never quite sure what to do when she catches it, because we long ago taught her that people are not for chewing, but the catching instinct is still very much intact, so she'll put my hand in her mouth and then spit it out, and as soon as the hand moves she tries to catch it again. It's often bad for my hands, since despite her best intentions I almost always come out of it with tooth imprints when she misjudges a pounce, but for some reason (I blame SarahThe and Scout's antics), I giggled at her tonight. A lot.

I should probably go to bed. There are, as usual, a lot of things in my head that want to be put down in the nice white space here, but I should probably let them ferment a little more. I have discovered that my thoughts are like wine; when they haven't been aged properly and the miscellaneous bits haven't settled out, they're often terrible.