Saturday, June 16, 2018

big event in boston

M's son Sam is marrying Josie. 

I love them both. They've been dating for nine years, and now share an apartment in the city. Today M is hosting a shower for Josie.

I decide to fly up. 

While I used to fly a lot, now I rarely do. Maybe twice a year, when I fly to the Cape in July and August. So it's easy to forget the requirements to fly.

I am leaving on Jet Blue from LaGuardia's Marine Air Terminal. It was built in 1939, and according to Wikipeida, "is the only active airport dating from the first generation of passenger travel in the United States."

The terminal is so deserted I have to ask someone if it's even open. Aside from me, I see two other people: one is cleaning the bathroom and the other is sweeping the floor.

The terminal, with its gorgeous Art Deco mural, looks like a throwback to another era.  The only update seems to be the removal of the airport pay phones and the addition of an ATM.

But once inside the DEPARTURE doors, the place looks like any other airport. As I am in line to show my electronic ticket, I remember that my license is not with me. Fortunately, the guy at the gate assesses me as a non-threat and accepts my American Express card as my ID.

V picks me up. M's already-spectacular home is even more gorgeous than usual. Her backyard is filled with food, waiters, drink, and guests.  By the time we arrive, exactly on time at 12:30, half the guests are already here.

It's a joyous day. Even M's Aunt Nina, the family matriarch who never minces words, gives the event a solid ten.

M is the perfect host. Everything is done to perfection.

But it's really about the lovely and beautiful Josie. She is is warm and kind, and always makes everyone feel welcome.

And her adoring Sam. 

This is one magnificent and special couple. Their happiness is palpable.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

end of a horrid work week.

I think it was a nice summer's day outside, but since I was working inside I don't get to enjoy any of it. And what I am doing inside turns out to be an exhausting effort benefiting no one.

I have a small, $600 sale soon after arriving at work, and then nothing else until about 5 when I sell a single T-shirt. That's it.

And I really try —18,974 steps worth.

I have few customers as store traffic is low in number and fellow workers are high in number. Mostly when I ask, "Hi, is anyone helping you?" the answer is yes.

And then when I do find customers, I find the wrong ones. Sometimes I'm lucky and sometimes I'm not, and today I am definitely not.

When I am fortunate enough to find someone who isn't being helped, either...
  • We don't have her size; or
  • Nothing works (despite the entire rack full of clothes she tries on); or
  • She runs out of time after gathering at least 30 different pieces; or
  • She wants to think about it overnight; or
  • She needs to first see what her boyfriend/husband/sister/mother thinks.

By the time I leave, my feet are killing me. I am totally depleted. My left knee hurts.  And the thought of repeating this tomorrow makes me sad.

This week may have been my worst week since starting two and a half years ago. I'll gross about $140 for three full days of work. About $6/hour. And that's due to a combination of weak sales and an exorbitantly high return rate of almost 70%. Translated that means that for every $100 I sell this week, $70 is returned from prior weeks.

I know, it's the same old story. I try to stay positive. Every day's a new day. Blah blah blah.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

PART FIVE (of six): some clothes and a contract

I'm assuming I was judged to be sufficiently sane, as I get an email from the wardrobe stylist. 

She asks me to send her photos of me in three outfits. "Something you'll feel comfortable in." They will ultimately pick one for me to wear the night of the shoot.

I am most comfortable in jeans, and loose-fitting clothes, though that might not be my best look.

I enlist the help of my neighbor's 15-year old son to be my photographer. I am sure he is thrilled with the assignment. He's polite, though, and doesn't ask why I want my head cut out (it's another bad hair day, like most).

After considering a multitude of outfits, I settle on four.

I am told that denim is okay "with a nice top," so I choose two.

And then I choose two dresses. The first is a body-hugging black dress with a sheer bolero over it. In the picture I come across as frumpy. 

The second dress is one I've never worn. It's another tight-fitting dress. From the photo, it looks as if I have no waist. I'm not thrilled with the way I look here either.

In fact, later I decide that flowers on TV may be unflattering, and retract this option.

At the same time we're discussing clothes, I am reviewing/negotiating terms of a 7-page contract. You'd think I was signing on to a multi-year deal and I'm starring.

But everything is moving quickly, and I'm honored to have been selected. The studio's enthusiasm is contagious and it feels good to be wanted.

Monday, June 4, 2018

PART FOUR (of six): am I happy?

Things are moving quickly.

Today is my psyche evaluation. I'm told it'll be about three-hours long, and include both an interview and a personality test. In case you're wondering, I'm not being singled out. Anyone selected is required to do this. So it's definitely a good sign.

The one-hour interview is comfortable, and I find myself discussing things I haven't thought about in years. It's the 550 questions (all True or False) that I find more challenging.

It's pretty easy to answer False when the question reads, Someone is trying to poison me. Or,  I like hunting. But there are a couple of questions that are far more difficult to answer.

I am an important person. True/False
Hmmm. I've been easily answering the prior questions but this one stops me. I do not consider myself an important person. So do I answer False? But then I think, I hope I am important to my friends and family.  So would that make my answer True? But I haven't done anything that would make me important beyond the sphere of people who know me. Is that what the question means? Or maybe it's about how I view myself. Do I think I'm important?  I guess I'd answer yes to that. So while I ultimately chose the answer, True, I feel I am important to very few.

The most taxing question regards happiness. Are you happy most of the time? True/False.
No, I am not happy most of the time. But then, I am not unhappy most of the time either. Sometimes opposites don't apply. For example, having money doesn't make one happy. But not having money can certainly make one unhappy.  

A smart friend of mine (when I ask er later) answers the question this way:  "Happiness falls at a 7 or higher, and most days I'm a 5 or a 6." I agree with her. I mean, isn't that true of most people?  Most, yes. But not all.  I even know one or two people who are truly happy. 

I wish I were one of them. But I'm happy enough, and answer True.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

mystery solved

I love my Contigo, and rely on it every day I work to help keep me hydrated.

I fill it with either hot or iced tea.  Today was busy and I drink only half. And, spill coffee from another drink down the front of my white Comme des Garcons blouse, the one with little bows down the front.

I take a Via home, have a solo-dinner, read a bit, watch some TV, and go to bed.

This morning I am getting ready to leave. I take a cut up apple, like I do every day I work, and go to fill my Contigo. It's then I notice that I don't have it. Shoot. I must have left it at work.

But when I arrive at work I don't find it. My Contigo is not on the counter near the register where I must have left it last night. I check all the drawers and cabinets. I ask everyone who stayed after I left. Nope. It's gone. Hard to believe that anyone would steal a half-filled thermos. 

One of my colleagues suggests I call our AP (Asset Protection) department as they have cameras next to all the registers. 

Sunday is distressingly slow, so I call. 

I explain what happened. I realize that this is not important, but hey, if it's easy to check, I'd love to know. "No problem," the AP guy tells me over the phone.

"Okay, so this must have happened between 6:30 and 7:30 last night. I work next to register 123," I begin.

A few minutes pass and the AP guy says, "Got it. Where's the thermos?"

"Against the wall, to the left of the register."

"Tall. Blue, Yup, I see it."

"Great. Do you see anyone taking it?"

"Hold on."

"No problem." A few minutes pass.

"Okay. Yes. I see someone."

"Great."  I feel like I'm on Dateline watching video footage of some could-be murderer.

"It's a woman. She's taking the thermos and putting it in her bag."

Wow. I'm thinking. Now I'll know. Probably a customer, as none of my colleagues would do this.

"What does she look like?" I ask.

"She has dark hair, kind of wavy."

I'm getting a bad feeling.  "What is she wearing? 

"She has on a white blouse with bows down the front and a black skirt."

She has on what I was wearing yesterday. The she is me.

I feel so stupid. I must have left my Contigo in the Via.

Before hanging up, I thank the AP guy, and confess. "The woman in the video is me."

He's polite, but I can already picture him after he hangs up. "Hey, listen to this...", as he begins his story to the rest of the AP staff.


Saturday, June 2, 2018

temporary friends

We have customers from all over the world. All ages. All backgrounds. All types of professions. And many willing to share stories. Of all kinds.

It's surprising, sometimes, how quickly a fleeting friendship can be developed, knowing that the relationship may start and end in a dressing room.

The last two days at work have been great. Right now, there are big sales going on throughout the store, which sometimes (and hopefully) generates lots of store traffic.

I remember one August five years ago being drawn to this very store because of their big consolidated sale. I bought four designer pieces for 70% off, all of which I still have and love. Right now many of the designer pieces are 40% off, and even though these same pieces will continue to drop in price as the summer progresses, we have limited inventory, so it's always best to buy early.

On Friday, one of my customers comes in around noon, and asks me to hold a couple of pieces as she has to leave but she tells me she'll return around five. "I'll bring you coffee," she says. "How do you like it?" 

"Thank you so much, but you needn't do that."

"I know, but I am."

"That is so nice of you, but really, that's okay."

"Listen, I'm bringing you coffee, so tell me how you like it so at least I get it right."

And around five, she returns to the store, with my coffee, done just right.

I am totally touched by her thoughtfulness.

I meet another woman from Hong Kong. By the time she leaves, we hug each other good-bye. 

And there have been many others. People who appreciate my help. Who are considerate. Who make sure everything they try on is hung back up. A customer today hands me her many "go-backs" and apologizes for the one item that is not on a hanger. "I am so sorry but these pants were on a table; they didn't come with a hanger."  I wish every customer were like her.

My relationships may be just a few minutes long, but the goodwill they generate lasts so much longer.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

that big annual test

Every year I get anxious when it's time for my all-important test, the kind that requires no studying.

My annual mammogram.

Every year I go to Rosetta Radiology. I have been going there for years,. The staff is friendly and competent. The wait is generally short. It's nearby. And they give results soon after the tests, in my case, both a mammography and sonogram. Oh, and it's easy to remember their phone number — it's exactly the same as mine except for the last digit. I'm frequently getting calls from people hoping I can schedule or cancel their appointments. 

I sit in a small waiting area with other like-woman. We are all dressed in hospital-issued blue wrap tops. While I'm waiting, a male doctor walks by, pokes his head in, smiles at one of the women near me, and gives her a thumbs up. Okay, I get this isn't the most professional manner of conveying medical news. But in this case, who cares. Just as long as it's good. I'm assuming he wouldn't use a thumbs downif the outcome were different.

I go in for my mammogram. It doesn't take long before I'm back in the waiting area. I'm only half way throught the business section of  the Times when a female doctor calls me out. She smiles and tells me, "So far, so good."

A short time later I get called in for the sonogram. That, too, doesn't take long. And mercifully, the doctor is back in within just a few minutes to again tell me that everything is good. Though I had no reason to be fearful, I still feel so much relief.

I leave the doctor's office like one does after a great workout, or a nice spa treatment. Relaxed and renewed. 

And grateful to have passed the big test.