Yesterday, a neighbor came into the shop. Aside from posting the details of my daily existence on the internet, I’m pretty incognito about my career in retail so it came as little surprise when he stepped back from the register, did a double take and exclaimed, “I didn’t know you work here!”
As this particular neighbor has a very great passion for the decorative arts (and a lovely, fully restored 18th-century row house on Manton St.) I wasn’t sure if how to react. Was he excited by his newfound connection to an employee of The Shop (and the potential extension of her employee discount)?
Or was he horrified to find me, the college grad and recently returned expat, standing behind a cash register? I certainly was.
“Is this just a summer job?” he mused as I scanned his items.
“Something like that,” I replied. A summer job that began on January 2nd, and, at four months and four days, has lasted four months and four days longer than it should have.
I would have explained all of this with the newfound sense of humor that gets me through the day—at least it gives me something to write (and occasionally laugh) about, right?— but I noticed Good Cop standing a few feet away so I had to pretend that I LOVE working at the shop.
Good Cop and I have something of a rapport. Unlike Bad Cop, who’s young-ish, handsome-ish, invariably moody and therefore appealing, Good Cop is about is about the same age as my dad and has three kids so there is no chance of my finding him attractive (no offence, Pop). As such, I’m not tongue tied around him; I’m actually something of a comedian. We have a whole routine going about the fake trees that line the front of The Shop. He badgers me about remembering to water them and I tell him they’re not getting enough sunlight and we come dangerously close to actually enjoying our time at The Shop. But then he notices that the fridge in front of Reggie #1 is almost empty and his managerial duties take over. With a reluctant sigh, he asks, “When you’re doing watering the trees, can you call someone from the stock room to bring out some more soda? We’re out of Sprite.”
Sometimes, if its a slow day, Good Cop comes over to Reggie #1 out of nowhere and asks, “So what did you go to school for again? Dance Anthropology?” Being a college grad himself, he’s curious about me. As I generally come to work sober, speak in complete sentences, and don’t appear to have a collection of “Baby Daddies” on speed dial, I suppose I am something of an anomaly amongst my co-workers.
When this happens, I mumble some sort of non-committal response because I know what’s coming next: Dance Anthropology? In London? London, England? The implication, of course, being, “Then why the hell are you working here?”
That the very same question was on my neighbor’s tongue— after all, we used to sit around at my parents’ New Year Eve party talking about the Victoria and Albert Museum, the fabric department at Liberty of London and other Sophisticated Things—but at least he was polite enough not to ask.
Thank God for small favors.