As you may or may not know, I just started a new job. I’m working at eco-lifestyle store owned by friends of mine. Yes, I love them and I love the focus of the store, but my favorite bit about this new endeavor is that my sister has taken to calling me “shopgirl.” Love it. It makes me feel like an old-timey lass, like I should have a Gibson Girl hairstyle and mutton chop sleeves.

Might I interest you in some pantaloons?

Problem: I might not be very good at this job.

It wasn’t until after I started that it occurred to me I’ve never worked retail before. That seems weird, right? I’ve been working since I was fifteen years old and never once in any sort of retail capacity. It is not necessarily coming naturally to me.

My boss offered a gentle suggestion that I allow customers to peruse the store for a bit before greeting them, as opposed to what I was doing, which was accosting them the second they entered our proximity, practically snatching the door out of their hands in my haste to offer a verbal hello. This is, apparently, not so much welcoming as extremely alarming. Right. Greet them. Don’t scare them.

Here’s the thing; due to the nature of our products, there is a lot of information I need to know. A LOT. The advantages of natural latex over memory foam. The dangers of off-gassing. Common carcinogens in cosmetics. It makes me excedingly nervous to feel so uninformed. What I do know is that I am supposed to greet customers as they enter, so therefore, I’ve been greeting the CRAP out of them.

I suppose next she will want me to work my secondary course of action which is, after aggressively greeting the customer, (“HELLO! DO YOU NEED ANY HELP? NO?!! I’LL BE OVER HERE!”) to retreat behind the counter and stare at them as intently as a lion tracking a wounded water buffalo calf. Even I can see that it would be better to cultivate a more relaxed and approachable attitude. One that that suggests, “I’m here to help” and not, “I’m memorizing your features so I can find you later and cut you into teeny bits” –but it’s hard, y’all.

Sigh.

Still, none of that is why I think I’ve got a long, uphill battle to “Shopgirl of the Year.” Last week after my very first shift I, in all earnestness, turned to Hubby and exclaimed, “Whew! Thank goodness I have tomorrow off!”

Ugh. Worst shopgirl ever.

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