Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cabbages and Kings

I grew up writing this asinine little stories and poems, and escaping into fantasy land. So when I started a blog, I thought it was going to be easy and I was going to rock blogland. It's not as easy as I thought. Sometimes I want to be too honest. Sometimes I just wanna talk about shoes. Sometimes I think my life is so fucking boring I just want to scream.

So, today I will try to talk about something other than shoes.

An interesting thing about retail is the artificial sense of closeness it creates between both the employees and the customers. At the store, it's important to create the "relationship" between the associate and the client in order to sell more effectively. The client sees you as a friend, she starts to value your opinion. One, she's going to buy more because it becomes fun and enjoyable. Two, she's going to come back and see her "buddy." This works out all right, different girls have different clients. I have a few in particular that are just a delight to see.

But the thing is, people cross lines. Or they mistake the artificial friendship for a real one. Or they see you as just a warm body to talk at. And talk they do. They tell you things they shouldn't, things about their families, their lives, their medical woes, their money problems... (Rhetorical question: If you have money problems, why are you in my very high-end store?)

Today, a client in my store dropped a bomb: Her son had just died. I was put off by her announcement--grief should be private. We don't live in the Victorian Era, or have mourning periods. But even still, I'm a sensitive person. Parents shouldn't outlive their children, it isn't the way things were meant to be. So I said the usual things, "I'm sorry to hear that, that's terrible," and she proceeded to tell me that he was only 29 and wasted away from cancer...I wanted to cry, but not really for her. I felt like she was milking it. It made my stomach turn over; I just hate public displays of emotion, but she didn't have any emotion. She was just reciting the facts and gaging our reactions. She mentioned that she was medicated, so that could have been it, but I don't know...even the offhand mention of medication seemed calculated.

It felt so wrong to me. So many people really do suffer, and live through horrible tragedies without feeling the need to inform everyone they come across, and certainly not the salesgirls at a shop they frequent. Maybe I'm not as compassionate as I thought I was. Maybe I think the worst of everyone. But it all rang so false and at the same time I felt so moved for the rest of her family.

I'm such a horrible person for doubting her grief.

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