I should not be writing right now for a few reasons. First, I have had two very full glasses of wine (I am a lightweight). Second, it is very late, and while I have the day off tomorrow I don’t like indulging this particular bad habit. Third, I have been holding in a lot of anger. And by holding in, I mean ranting to my husband and friends, but not writing it down.
I write for a lot of reasons, I think. Sometimes things just don’t make sense in my head until I make them solid on paper/screen. Other times, I can’t sleep because my brain won’t stop talking about something. Rarely, I am genuinely inspired by the Muse of Fiction. I’ve written to fulfill New Years Resolutions and personal vows and school requirements. I write because I am a writer. I am also a baker and a hooker (crochet) and a napper. To that end, I bake food I shouldn’t eat and stuff it in the faces of people I know to validate my own irreplaceability in their lives. I crochet projects that interest/challenge me to stave off boredom and half-heartedly sell them (or rather don’t sell them) on the internet. I nap. This is my life when I’m not working.
I think I’m averaging three times a day that someone remarks on the fact that my name is Jo and I work at Joann’s. It blows their minds when I tell them my middle name is Ann. I say the same jokes over and over again. “It’s probably why they hired me.” “My mom must have KNOWN.” “I’m Undercover-Bossing it.” They all love my St. Pat’s apron, which I made as Irish as possible without resorting to using potatoes. I am either the best person with the brightest personality and the most charming customer service or I’m the rude girl who merely pointed to the part of the store you needed without holding your hand to take you there. I try to be the former because a narcissist needs everyone to love them and I NEED YOU TO LOVE ME. I’m sorry if I was rude. I hope there was a reason and not just that I was tired from standing for 5 hours because Americans don’t believe you can work and sit at the same time. Or that I hadn’t eaten all afternoon because I decided we were too busy for me to take my 15 min corporate-obligated break. Or I’m dehydrated because I left my water at the register and the past 5 times I went up to grab it, someone needed my help. But thank goodness I have a cute apron and a bubbly personality and gave you the coupon you didn’t have or the discount you misread because losing money is less important than losing customers but more important than staffing the store well enough to properly serve customers.
To be clear, I do like my job. I meet amazing people. I get to help people be creative, which is kind of what I want to do with my life anyway, just with books. I am inspired everyday to buy more yarn and fabric and stretch the boundaries of my skills. I want to learn to do everything and I want to teach people to do those skills which will while away the hours of the Zompac.
Here is very important advice for casual conversation with retail workers. It doesn’t happen frequently at work, but among new friends and associates and strangers at parties, the conversation gets around to, “And what do you do?” Often this is after conversations about education or crazy college stories, but here’s a template of one conversation I had a bit too frequently over the last few weeks.
“Yes, I have a Bachelors in English with a minor in Medieval/Renaissance Studies.”
“And what are you doing with that?”
“I work retail.”
“I needed a job.”
Anything you say after that which isn’t along the lines of, “Oh, okay, the economy, blah, blah, blah, change the subject,” is going to lead down a dark road.
What can I say? I am registered on several job search sites. I get multiple daily emails about jobs available in my area (within an hour commute). Most are crap. Many are not even related to the field I’m interested in. I realize that Barnes & Noble sells books, but the Starbucks barista job has absolutely no relation to publishing. Nor does a managerial position at Food Lion count as a writing position. Or I could take one of the many jobs selling magazine subscriptions to strangers. A few, a very few are worth applying to. Some fall under the “I need a job” category. Like, okay, I’m not sure this is the type of job I want, but it does involve writing, a salary, and a full-time position. Just bite the bullet, send in your resume, and wait for them to never, ever respond. Not even to say you aren’t qualified or we went with someone else.
So when asked why I’m not working in the field I want, there is a little voice that starts screaming. I don’t know. I don’t know why they don’t want me. I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I’m not good enough when EVERYONE who has ever taught me has said that I am above average. What am I doing wrong? Why don’t they want me? And the only answer I always seems to come up with is that I’m not trying hard enough. I can’t possibly be trying hard enough because in this country, if you work hard and stay positive and pull on your bootstraps or whatever, the opportunities just pour down.
It’s probably true. I don’t walk my resume into publishing houses nor do I plan to move to LA or NYC in order to get an unpaid internship that could easily be done via email. I don’t write constantly and send submissions in everywhere. I don’t email 10 resumes a day to different employers. Would that help? Maybe. Should I pay someone to look over my resume? Because 6.5 years in the Army and a Bachelors degree aren’t evidence enough that I’m worth an interview? Or even a rejection email?
This is why I don’t blog as much. What shall I write about? There was some woman who expected us to open up nearly an hour after we closed so she could buy something because we were the only place that had it and she needed it that night. Or the woman who waved me down like I was a taxi. Or the questions about whether or not I have anyone to help me with the line, which imply that I simply love keeping people waiting while my coworkers lounge in the break room or something. No, I’m alone here. I called for help and no one can come because everyone else is busy helping other people. Or asking me to find a fabric you saw 2 months ago but don’t have a number or even a picture of, but you just loooooved it so much. Is that all your buttons? Why don’t you sell this obscure thing I’m looking for? What are your hours that I could easily find with a quick internet search? Do you have this yarn I bought six months ago with this lot number? Do you have a senior discount (after I have asked if they have military or teacher discounts, because I would absolutely not mention senior after saying those)? That person wasn’t chipper enough ringing me up, I want to complain. I don’t understand why I can’t get cash back for a return, even when I don’t have the receipt. Why didn’t I get full price back for stuff I returned six months after I bought it? Where does it say 90 days (on the big sign right above your head and on the receipt)? Why do you have to handle my fabric (because you were trying to smuggle out $30 in remnants folded in your fleece)? What do you mean you don’t have it? It’s on your website. Oh, it says online only.
And that is only the nasty 1% of our customers. Everyone else is either a joy and a pleasure to see or they’re new and just need some hand-holding.
For new people:
- Please be patient. There are a lot of draws on our attention (other customers, because stocking the store and cleaning up the messes inconsiderate people leave always come after customer service). We will help as much as we can, HOWEVER, we are not personal shoppers and should not neglect the rest of the store unnecessarily. We will because we want your positive experience to bring you back, but other customers will suffer.
- Please be prepared. Know your measurements. There is no average size for anything, not chairs, not showers, not blankets, not clothes, not ANYTHING. We will help you, but without correct measurements the best we can do is make guesses which can lead to you buying the wrong amount of supplies. This will unnecessarily complicate your project and make you less likely to take on another.
- No questions are stupid or silly or unusual. Within six months of working there, I had already heard all the weirdest projects (#1 was a reusable feminine pad) and cut the most fabric (2 1/2 hours cutting 50 1.5-yd pieces of fleece). Do not be embarrassed to ask me anything. Dumb questions are things that could be directed to Google before stepping in the store. If Google can’t help you, ask away. Even if Google could help you but you don’t want to ask a faceless search engine, ASK AWAY. I will answer with a smile and if I can’t answer your question, I will ask my colleagues. And yes, if desperate, Google it.
- We love seeing you because you understand how long it can take to cut fabric. Your patience and understanding are a Godsend, especially when we are slammed and understaffed.
- When we aren’t busy, we want to see pictures of your projects because in a little way they are our projects, too. We also want to talk about your families and upcoming events, but not politics. When we are busy, we still want to see pictures but we may have to be walking and stocking at the same time.
- Have your coupons loaded before you get to the register. If you need help, as all phones can be tricky even to the most experienced, just ask. If there is a long line at the register, I’ve noticed my regulars engaging other customers in conversation. I love you for that. It makes the line less threatening to me AND less annoying for others.
- Please, please, please, go to the website and fill out customer reviews. A lot of people will take the time to fill out a review for a bad experience (and yes, I want those too, because how else will I learn?). Most won’t bother if they had a good experience. Every once in a while, I want to hear someone say we did a good job. I know we do a good job and I know we aren’t perfect. When all you hear are the negative reviews even though all I hear in person is how wonderful I am, it’s very confusing.
I didn’t mean for this to be about work or about my failing job hunt or how much retail can suck. I was going to make some nasty remarks about declawing cats and maybe something political. But since I’ve been listening to audiobooks in the car, I haven’t felt the boiling need to spew about stuff that doesn’t affect me on the daily because I am white, cis-gender, military spouse with health care through the military, and no children (yet) for which the future death of the planet holds any threat. For the time being, I can selfishly ignore the toxic waste that festers a mere 3 hours away, plotting to drain the swamp through the effective means of increasing the white supremacist alligator population. And honestly, what more is there to say that hasn’t been ignored or called fake news by the people I most need to hear me? The people who will listen already agree with me. The people who will call me a bitch and a snowflake and naïve are rooting for a creature who lies to their faces on a daily basis, or has his flying monkeys do it for him.
Bottom line, don’t declaw your cats, except in cases of medical necessity (for the cat). Declawing can actually increase aggression in cats, causing them to lash out by biting rather than scratching. A cat bite is far more likely to send you to the emergency room than a scratch. It is better to treat the cat for aggression, either by finding healthy outlets (play and personal territory), behavioral medication, or rehoming if you are unable to give them the attention they need. Declawing a cat because you don’t want it to scratch your furniture/carpets/curtains is animal cruelty. It’s not like removing fingernails. It’s cutting off the top knuckle of their hands. It is the equivalent of binding women’s feet (Google that if you don’t know what I’m talking about). I will never care more about my carpets than I do about the living creatures I agreed to care for.
And now you know why I don’t drink and blog.