Saturday, June 30


It must appear slightly pathetic for a newbie blogger to have skipped the last week and a half, but don't worry, I have plenty of handy excuses (work, matron of honor duties, parents in town, et al.). And seeing as how catchy my take on interactive blogging has become, I've come up with a Question of the Day, courtesy of my day job:
Woman who wears red lipstick: "Honey, can you suggest a little something for a friend of mine? He's a full-blooded Italian."
Me, cleaning cheap Egyptian toys: "A tie?"
Woman who still wears red lipstick: "Thanks anyway."
Me, determined to make a guess at what a full-blooded Italian desires: "Does he like the Red Sox?"
Woman: [Speeds up her walking away]

Sunday, June 17

Let's give this puppy a whirl ...

So here we go ... short description of what you imagine their life was, is, and/or will be. No real names or real stories if you know this person ...

Name that Life

Got to work nearly an hour early today. I took a different bus/subway combo than usual because of some construction, but obviously I overestimated the amount of time it would take. So I sat outside - Boston had beautiful weather today, finally! - and sketched a bit. Some of those pesky little red spiders crawled around on me and I ended up with sunburnt shoulders, but it was nice to have some down-time. As usual, though, it got me in the art-mode rather than the retail-mode, so I spent more time than I should have flipping through books on knitting and sewing.
Closed the store today while the other managers counted the drawers ... it is ridiculous how poorly most people perform when no one's watching. The general manager'll be in first thing tomorrow morning, so the store had to be perfect for Her Majesty's arrival. I had six associates straightening, plus myself, and after they left, we found about 8 displays that were just wrecked. (Note to shoppers: please, if you can't put it back where it belongs, don't make up a spot for it! Give it to the cashier and apologize!)
I wonder if that's a retail thing, employees needing babysitters, but I have a hunch it's not. Retail might have more of those employees, though, because sales associates are hired with a fairly low amount of required skills and education. You'd be surprised at how many sales associates, servers, and night supervisors are college grads, writers/artists/musicians/creators, second job-ers ... it becomes a melting pot of creativity and underemployment more often than not. I think that's part of the reason it's so frustrating when the customers assume you're an idiot.
Thinking about posting pictures of people and having readers submit short descriptions of what they imagine their lives to be like ... interaction and imagination, yummy!

Saturday, June 16

The Stitch Dreams

Spent the afternoon wandering around the Cambridge Arts Festival. Entertaining, especially for kids, but I was surprised by the lack of crafters' booths. Lately I've been interested in fabric and craft artists like Terese Agnew, Abby Glassenberg, et al. My ceramics teacher in college, Aurora Hughes Villa, had some influence on me in that regard. And for the last two years, I've concerned myself with what I call nesting, so imagery of birds, nests, etc. has covered my sketchbooks. I need to take one thing at a time, though, and learn more of the how-to before I come up with yet another idea. That's always been my problem.

Friday, June 15


It's sickening to see the amount of packaging thrown away every day in retail. Sure, there's all the statistics, 100 tons of this, a million pounds of that ... but when you have to confront it face-to-trash, it really hits home. This morning, for instance, I received a shipment of 16 small glass bud vases. The packaging alone filled two 60-gallon plastic garbage bags. We - and all the other retail joints I've worked at - throw away bags stuffed with bubble wrap and tissue paper on a daily basis, and in the meantime we're using brand-new bubble wrap and tissue paper to wrap our customers' purchases, also overly packaged in general, and place those packages in neat little plastic bags. Being a proud environmentalist already, I have made numerous attempts to get the store to reuse that perfectly good bubble wrap that has only been previously used once (and stored inside a cardboard box at that!). I've also tried convincing them of something like this. So far, no luck. Any suggestions?

Thursday, June 14

Eight hours of happy feet

No manager today, so I wore sneakers guilt-free. Ahhh, the pleasure, no the luxury, of hamstrings that don't scream at you as you try to hobble home from the subway.

Tuesday, June 12

The Raging Teapot

I'm beginning to wonder if retail does this to people, or if this is a normal workplace issue.

Today was pretty busy at work and I had a list of things that needed to be done before The Big Boss came in at 5. I asked Kathy, a friendly and seemingly harmless customer service associate, to polish the silver teapot set if she had time.

"Sure, no problem, I'll do them one at a time in between customers," she told me.

I smiled, thanked her, assured her it wasn't a problem if she couldn't find the time to complete the favor, and whirled around to finish the list of 99 red balloons, er tasks, that must be done lest The Head Honcho give me that horrific I-can-see-the-dust look.

Two hours prior to the arrival of said Store VIP, Vicki, a yoga-fanatic who smiles better than she listens, is sent to replace Kathy at customer service. Seeing that the teapot still has a devastating sliver of tarnish on its expensive-ass body, I ask her to polish it if she has time.

"No problem; where's the polish though?" Vicki asks, pausing in her breathing to reflect upon her breath.

"Oh, just ask Kathy," I said, apparently naively, and turn back to my oh-so-demanding managerial duties.

Five customers and minutes later, Vicki arrives full-force at the front counter and it's obvious from her wrinkled brow that she hasn't been concentrating enough on her ohmming.

"What's wrong?"

"Well, I asked Kathy about the polish ..." she says, trailing off.


"Um well, based on what she said, I didn't do it," Vicki answered, avoiding my eyes a bit.

"Why? What'd she say?"

"Well she kind of went off on me. I mean, she was ... here, come 'ere," Vicki said, dropping her voice while simultaneously raising her eyes to mine. "I asked her where the polish was, and she just went off. She said ... (pause to smile at customer passing by) ... 'I'm not doing the damn silver! How can she tell me what to do when she's only worked here a month and I've been here for a hundred years!' ... So I kind of just left."

At this point, things like I asked nicely, why do people make such a fuss over such small matters, and oh yeah I'm in a supervisory position anyway popped into my head, but of course, being myself by default, I was hurt. Why would someone think I would disrespect their tenure with the company? What did I do that would make her interpret my actions as coming from a sour place? Certainly Vicki's response helped, in some sense: "It's okay. Just breathe."

It all ended with me dashing around to perform a life-altering ten-minute cleansing of tarnish followed by The King Himself arriving to announce that he noticed I had moved some coffee mugs and this dramatic change had his ever-strived-for stamp of approval (a.k.a. a nod).

Let's gain some perspective here, people: Teapots will not tear the house down.