Retail

13 08 2009

Back in April or so, when I was fretting about grad school and what I want to do with my life and weighing the pros and cons of various life plans and not having a job for Atlanta … I discovered Penelope Trunk.  Penelope, the self-described “brazen careerist,” spoke words deep into my heart with her post “The new post-college prestige job is retail.”  Here’s one excerpt:

The best way to figure out what you should be doing with your life is to give yourself time to explore yourself and the world. Which means you need time to think. Retail is flexible, and it doesn’t take a lot of brain power. This leaves a lot of time and energy to do what you really need to be doing: Trying a lot of things on for size.

So the people who are honest with themselves about where they are in life also are brave enough to admit they are lost and should take a retail job to give themselves space to figure things out.

Wise words.  And yet, I ignored them for four straight months.   Only this past weekend, faced with the reality of about 70 failed “real job” applications and an empty violin studio, did I finally map out a new plan.

Monday

I woke up, put on my best business clothes, and headed into the city, armed with my portfolio, business card, and several extra copies of my resume. I did not discriminate: I walked into every store within a certian radius of our apartment and made the same request: “Are you hiring?”

That afternoon, I headed back home with several applications in hand and kicked off my shoes, only to discover that my nice shoes had mutilated my feet.   (I would post pictures, but I think they would be a little too gory for this site.  Seriously!  My feet were bleeding and blistered and had left behind bits of flesh on the heel of my shoes).  After nursing my feet, I sat down and began filling out applications.

Tuesday

I got lucky.  I went to my first store to inquire about my application and was offered an interview for later in the day.

My interview went something like this:

Hiring manager: Why do you want to work for us?

Me: Well, I need money.  I’m desperate.  I’ve been turned down for 70 jobs.  No, what I really said was: I think my experience at X & Y jobs has prepared me to work with lots of different people and provide great customer service.

Hiring manager: Okay…that’s a good GPA you have there … You were a religious studies major, that is very interesting … You can’t work Sundays?  Is that because of church? … Hmm, you worked at a homeless shelter.  That is very good … Can you start tomorrow?

Sooooo…I have a job!   After 4 hours of training yesterday, I reported for my first official day today.  And … I’m exhausted.  Forget about that office job that I had last year.  This was real work.

But I think the day went okay, although I must say, I am unbelievably grateful to the two nice men whose orders I messed up (horribly) today.  They were extremely patient and understanding.  I promise, I was trying my very best, and I wanted their discounts to work just as badly as they did.

Four years ago, when I spent the summer working in a bakery, my grandfather often came in on Friday nights to eat dinner.  One time he took me home after my shift and said he was proud of me: “I think everyone should spend some time working in a restaurant, if only because it makes you treat your own servers better.”

Truer words were never spoken.

So, if only for me, remember: show a little mercy to your frazzled cashiers!

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2 responses

13 08 2009
Linda

And I’m proud of you no matter WHAT you’re doing. You’re independent, happy and making your own way!!

13 08 2009
calliebdean

Thank you, Mother dearest! I really am enjoying it, but was just kind of impressed at how tired I was after only 4 hours of work! 🙂

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