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Narrative nonfiction, Reflections

The Memoirs of a Retail Slave

A Russian man looking miserable sat across from an Asian man looking much the same, while both their wives sauntered around the store trying on pairs of shoes. I couldn’t help but burst into a muted chuckle. From an outward perspective you would conclude that these couples were unequivocally different – language-wise, style-sense-wise, mannerism-wise, etc. However, one thing that was very much the same was the message portrayed on the gentlemen’s facial expressions: Men hate shopping with women on every continent.

Two well-dressed teenage ladies with layers of cosmetics on their faces walked into the store, noses up and wreaking of pretension (ah yes, my favourite kind of customer, the rich little snob). The interaction was going well, shoes were politely requested and graciously retrieved…until the curly-headed one decided to very condescendingly state, “Aw, you’re so cute” at the fact I had brought her out the shoes she wanted to try on in both the colours they came in. Mind you, I do look very young without make-up on and when I’ve barely had time to take a straightening iron to my head (which is more often than I’d like to admit). Regardless, if anyone’s going to be telling me how cute I am, it’s going to be a 6ft athlete with a dimple and rocky mountain-type abs! A word to the wise, if you don’t know the person or their age refrain from addressing them as “hun”, “sweetie” or any other equally patronizing pet name.

An elegant man on a mission walks in. He’s looking to buy a gift. We go through the store and pick out a few items – two purses with two matching wallets and a gorgeous pair of leather gloves. Grand total: $1000 plus! I’m standing there thinking, “The most expensive gift I ever got from an ex-boyfriend was a lit-up mirror” (hmmm, I wonder if he was trying to tell me something). Wait a second…TWO purses and TWO matching wallets. Perhaps my client was going to TWO separate birthday parties (if you catch my drift).

A little dude (about the age of three) stood very entertained munching on his box of raisins. He stood close to his mother who patiently awaited the cashier to ring through her purchases. Suddenly the boy realized his box was empty and proceeded to share this perturbing news with the lady directly behind his mother in line. The lady sympathized as best she could, but this wasn’t enough for the dismayed three-year-old. He turned to his mother in bitter protest. Finally, the mother reached into her purse and uncovered another tiny red packet. Little dude was very pleased to go back to munching quietly by his mother’s side. If only my biggest problem was an empty box of raisins…

These observations may appear trivial, but are the kinds you end up taking something from. For example, in my case, I’ll never drag my significant other into a store to watch me parade around in several sizes and colours of the exact same pair of shoes (well, maybe not never). I’ll think twice before spewing out “hun” and “sweetie” to absolute strangers that will secretly be thinking how much they’d like to punch me in the face for being so condescending. If I ever do receive a far too expensive gift from a man who’s not my husband or fiancée (and perhaps even then), I’ll wonder what they did wrong! And finally, no matter the age, life will always have its complications whether caused by the lack of a snack to indulge in or the lack of a plan for ones life.

So take it from a part-time sales wench and look around you.



About Little Miss Spanglish

Bright-eyed dreamer, set in her ways... enjoys working-out to slow jams. Hates being called by her full name by people close to her. Has never had a pet, yet has names picked out for her future fish, cat and Teacup pig (name of future dog still in the works). Loves receiving handwritten letters in the mail (long, handwritten messages in thoughtfully picked out cards also result in a smile). Will stare in disdain at her plate if it is inhabited by: brown rice, asparagus or beets (coming around on the beets). Finds skipping-down-a-sidewalk to be a lost art in adults... refuses to let that happen to her.


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