Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Saying the right thing

I have two jobs and last week, I worked eight hours at the day job, and then eight hours at the retail job because all the outlet malls had a special labor day weekend thing going on where they felt it was brilliant to stay open until midnight.

I was sleepy by the time I got to the second job at 4:30 p.m. so I tried to keep moving, and take breaks to make it through the evening. My manager was sure it'd be dead by 9 p.m. (we normally close at 8 p.m.) There were those happy late-night shoppers that came in periodically. We had a short rush at 10:30 p.m. There was music pumping down at the other end of the mall at one point I took a walk down there to see what was going on. Face painting, a balloon castle, some girls had just finished baton twirling.

My manager and I were bored, bored, bored. We did a great job of recovering the store with all the free time, putting clothes away, checking the dressing rooms, making choking gestures at the families who consistently wrecked the folded shirts on their little tables. At one point I walked up to her, waving a baby shirt and said, "This shirt is eluding me. I can't find it anywhere."

She paused. "Couldn't you just say it's missing?"

I blinked at her. "Elude says it better," I said. I went off to try to find it. I came back a few minutes later, "and elude is not the same thing as missing!" I said.

"That one really got to you, huh?" she said.

At 11 or so, I heard laughing so I peeked open the door to see what was up. Some young people were carrying on a few stores down. "I need to teach you the meaning of the word, 'subtle'," my manager said.

"Oh, they didn't see me; they were too carried away with their merriment," I said.

"Merriment, huh?"

"Yes. Shut up."

And a few minutes later I was telling her a story about the rude parking police lady in our town home complex who leaves nasty messages on cars when they don't adhere to her unspoken parking guidelines. I used the word "vacate" and quickly changed it to "left" and she started laughing. "I love how you corrected yourself," she said.

"Because I have to dumb down my speech so you won't make fun of me!" I said.

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