Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Other Side of the Counter

--Adrienne Miller

I've always worked in retail. Well, maybe not always. There was that time in high school that I worked at a dry cleaners. And in college when I worked at a laser tag place. But I digress. Most of the time that I've been working, I've been selling something. Books, coffee, greeting cards, clothes, I've sold them all.

Retail can give you a different perspective on our gift giving holidays. Yeah, some of it can be bad. People can be mean. They can yell and be rude. They can huff and puff and blow your house down. The internets abound with stories written by the burned out retail employee. God knows, on occasion I can feel that way too. 

But usually I don't. Because for every nasty, growling, short-tempered gift buyer there are a hundred lovely people happily searching for the perfect something. People usually go out shopping in groups. The store may be packed but most people are smiling. Jolly music is playing. Decorations are everywhere. And, ain't gonna lie, the days go by real fast. What drags in the middle of June, flies by in December.

I remember a beautiful moment last year. It was Christmas Eve and I got off work after the shops had closed. It was cold enough to see my breath, and I was all bundled up in my big, wooly sweater. The christmas lights were strung between the buildings, shimmering like pretend stars. everyone was already home. I don't think I passed another soul. But the music was still on in the plaza, and as I walked to my car I was serenaded by the most gorgeous version of Silent Night I can remember hearing. It was as if the world had orchestrated the scene for me. 


Rachael Herron said...

Okay, now THIS just got me in the holiday spirit, and EARLY! Thank you. Sometimes I don't get there at all.

Juliet Blackwell said...

I love that scene, being serenaded by Silent Night. Beautiful. And yes, though I don't like shopping I do go out during the holiday season, just to be amongst the bustling (mostly happy) crowds, the great decorations, and the only time in the Bay Area we can really wear warm wooly sweaters ;-)

Gigi Pandian said...

What a lovely ending image. I'm forced to do most of my Christmas shopping online this year, and previously I never thought I'd miss the crowds, but now I do really think I miss the Christmas buzz!

Sophie Littlefield said...

wow sugar, if you can still dredge up some holiday sweetness after being on your feet in the store all day, then i think you really *might* be one of santa's little elves :) xo

uh....R, J, G, what the hell are all y'all doing up so early? well, R, i get it, but the rest of ya?

L.G.C. Smith said...

Everyone who works in retail in the whole wide world should have to read this as part of preparation for any holiday shopping season. Well said. I completely enjoy choosing presents for my nearest and dearest, online, in stores, doesn't matter. I love thinking about who I'm getting a present for. I know they might be disappointed, but I can't predict that a hundred percent. And when I have doubts, or when I want to share my excitement at having found the perfect gift, however small, I love it when the store people respond to my pleasure with a genuine smile or a kind word to allay my uncertainty. More often than not, that's what happens. It's a benevolent connection, however small, and it's part of the gift.

Martha Flynn said...

You make me want to buy things!!! For other people!!!!!! :):)