Shopping has never been my thing, and since I now live in a 19’ space I don’t need to shop for stuff. Food, gas and green fees is where my money is going. But this holiday season, since I am house-sitting in Austin for a month. I got a part-time holiday job at Breed & Co. an Ace Hardware store that redefines hardware store. I have always wanted to work in the nut and bolt room at Fragers, my favorite True Value Hardware in Washington, D.C.
Breed & Co. in addition to nuts and bolts, has a bridal registry with fine china, sterling silver and a housewares department that rocks!
I can lift 40-lbs, but standing on my feet for 7 hours, going up and down stairs checking for inventory, has given new meaning to being bone tired. I was glad they hired me, because I have worked for unions and they didn’t think I was trying to organize the store (not a bad idea). Hey working for $11 an hour, who could ask for more?
The women of housewares are a fun group Sandra, Dyanne, Carol, Mary, Sarah, Haley and Sherry. However, I do not possess the minimum qualification of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). I would just stick stuff on the shelf, but in retail it is all about presentation. Breed’s has its own Creative Director. Who makes the place look like a winter fairyland, complete with elves!
Working retail, I am again reminded of my privilege and the job is for fun, and not a necessity. My union pension and Social Security are allowing me to have a retirement lifestyle others do not enjoy.
As a former professional I was always able to take care of the odds and ends of personal business while at work. Even after I retired I marveled at how many hours of the day can be spent dealing with the business of life. But punching a clock and taking a 30-minute break, means all those odds and ends have to wait. The vast majority of workers don’t enjoy a private office and setting your own schedule. Garbage collectors, teachers, fast food, regular working people doing the work we expect and rely on, they can’t take care of personal stuff during working hours. And, I have to believe it is ‘the privileged’ who are the least aware of how physically and mentally demanding retail work and waiting on customers with a smile, can be.
Last night a woman arrived 15 minutes before closing, and was annoyed we could not provide three identical candles for her sibling’s gifts. When we offered to have the candles transfer from the other store, she was even more annoyed that we could not get them to her immediately, because she was leaving in the morning. Maybe she thought we could shoot them out of our ass? It was not her fault she waited until the last-minute. Most of the customers have been lovely. But it only takes one. So hats off to all retail workers!
And remember holiday shoppers, be kind to the person serving you.