Take a Deetour

"I write to find out what I think." - Joan Didion

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little...

what's it like on the other side of the counter?

"When are you gonna stop torturing yourself?" P. asked, referring to my inapptitude at being a shop girl.

This is something I've been pondering for the last couple of weeks. When, indeed.

And my conclusion? Never. I will never stop torturing myself. I can't stop. I'm addicted to pain and suffering. Turmoil of my own conjuring, as it were. I chose to be a shop girl, so a shop girl I will be!

Ah, yes, something I haven't as yet described in shocking, lurid detail... My adventures as a sales person. What joy! What fun! What crap!

Me, Lady D, University Graduate, holder of B(A) Hons in English Literature & Theatre Studies am a shop girl, workin' hard for her money, hawking pretty paper to rich tai tais who are sometimes not very nice evil fire-breathing, small child-eating, she-devils?! Busting my ass for up to 10 hours for a measely $50 a day?!

Oh wait. Silly, silly me. I have a B(A) Hons in English Literature & Theatre Studies. IN SINGAPORE. Land of Doctors, Lawyers, Bankers, Engineers, PROFESSIONALS. Is it really any wonder?

But nah, aching body and aching ego aside, I do what I do, part-timing, part-channelling Donna Summer & Dolly Parton because I can. I quit my old job to find more peace of mind, more time, more me. And ME says I should help a friend in need. The clever, entrepreneural Miss E, who found herself up to her eye-balls in part-time staff woes, asked if I could help her out in her scrap-booking store. Of course I said yes gladly.

However, I clearly did not know what I was getting myself into. Like a rasher of bacon wandering into an Overeaters Annonymous meeting, I showed up at the shop on the first day and since then, it's been a WHOOOSH!!! of !@#$%^&*@#$*&^%. Words cannot describe the frenzy of ladies of leisure at a 20% store-wide discount, picking patterned paper to go with their photograph collections.

Ah yes, the tricksy 20% store-wide discount. Where do I begin with this doozy? Three days ago, I went a little cash-register mad. Giddy with glee at being cashier for the day, drunk with my sub-totalling power, I neglected to notice what I'd done till it was WAAAY too late. 10 customers & hundreds of dollars of sales later, I realised I'd been happily dishing out 20% discounts on stuff that weren't really on sale. Uh-oh.

A quick round of mental sums revealed that the amount I undercharged customers was almost equivalent to the amount I would've earned at the end of that day. Good going, Shopgirl! Duh.

I'm so lucky Miss E is very gracious and forgiving. But feeling very sheepish and guilty, I embarked on a shopping spree in the store and ended up spending 3 times what I lost through discounted sales. Talk about overcompensation!

So returning to the very beginning of this post, Torture and Turmoil. That's my specialty. But in every excruciating situation I get myself into, I must admit, there's always this little nugget of pleasure. And I ain't just talking about when I'm working in the store, either.

Although it has to be said, back-breaking boo boos aside, I actually like being a shop girl. And I like doing something good for a good friend. And while I think about the moola and how much more I make per hour doing my other projects, it only draws attention to what I lack. Experience of the real world. Minimum wage. Unpleasant tai-tai customers. Taking the bus. Getting caught in the rain. Rubbing smelly shoulders with the plebians. Bah.

Millions of people do this everyday. I feel like a nothing, a nobody - people look right through you when you're on the otherside of the sales counter. It's like I have a secret life, slumming it with the rest of the service industry. And then next moment, I can be strolling into a recording booth, talking for 15 minutes and making 60 times more $$$, before driving off in my A3. Oh no, I'm a sheltered, spoiled snob! Double bah.

See? I always feel something then feel guilty for feeling it. The sense of being in limbo and being pulled in two opposite directions is something I keep writing about. And then, because (contrary to my illusions of grandeur, I am not the great writer I expect myself to be) I'm probably more of a great READER, I read this. Thus behold, my innards have been given eloquent meaning:

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations. ~ Anais Nin


We are all made of stars. ~ Moby


Which simply means we are all full of hot gas. ~ Me (haha!)

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