Saturday morning, approximately 10 AM
I hoofed it all over Manhattan for weeks with copies of my resume and a cover letter, trying like hell to get a job that would be the beginning of getting out of my aunt's duplex. I got two interviews out of all my walking and paper-passing: one of them started out well and looked like it was going to be a full-time job, until they asked me what I thought my salary should be. Going on (possibly) doofus advice from my dad, I gave them a number and never heard from them again. The second interview went well, and I began working on a part-time basis for a crystal shop on Madison Avenue. I was taking a three-percent commission on my sales as well as an hourly wage, and, since most of the stuff in the shop was well out of my price range and the holidays were here, I figured I'd be making a great deal of extra change with the sales.
Oh, but the things I had to do in the shop to get that extra change...
Saturday morning, I arrived with my uniform in hand for the second job, which was coming up immediately after my time selling crystal sculptures and vases and the like. I can't remember exactly what transpired in the way of sales on that particular day, but I can tell you that over time, my sales pitches got better. I was always impeccably dressed, I had to constantly do research on the various artists who had come in and designed work for the studio - Salvador Dali, Hilton McConnico, Phillippe Starck - and I had to hunt down in a packed closet of a basement the correct box for the correct piece that was sold and, in some cases, gift-wrap it with a paper that would wrinkle if you looked at it wrong. Standard stuff.
Customers, and my boss, made things a tad more interesting, however. A fellow browsing in the shop smiled at me, pointed to an amoebic Starck bud vase and said, "Have you ever seen 'A Clockwork Orange'?" with a slight leer. He began to tip the vase back and forth in a way not unlike the movements of the big phallic sculpture seen in the movie. I regretted having said that I'd seen it, and was glad when the guy left without likening anything else in the shop to genitalia.
Another customer came in, a narrow woman with wiry glasses that pinched her skinny nose. My boss and the other salesperson there began acting like they could barely be civil to this lady, who had come in with her mop of a terrier. All the woman wanted was some addition to a set of wineglasses she'd bought from the shop, and she prattled on about the glasses as I was sent down to the basement to procure more examples to show her - as I walked out of the room, her dog snapped at my heels and growled and yapped away. Once she and her godawful pooch left, the women began recounting all the other episodes they'd had with Ms Pinched. I told them I couldn't believe how ill-tempered her dog was. "That's nothing," they said. "You should see her kid." Apparently, it was everything they could do to keep their professional demeanors and keep this woman's darling little terror from breaking everything in the store. I sighed inwardly with relief that I hadn't had to deal with him.
I liked my boss, who could be a little stiff at times, and whose idea of being open was to tell me she knew we'd get on well together because we were both Sagittarians, but she took a chance on me, and I wanted to work hard for her. She liked the way I decorated the teensy holiday tree with the limited edition ornaments, even though I was a little Jewish girl who hadn't decorated a tree since I was four. I apparently had a knack for handling the wrapping paper, which she also appreciated. Today, though, I was pushing her good temper.
My boss from my second job called in the early afternoon to confirm that I would be working later that evening. "See you at five," she said.
"There must be some mistake," I said, surprised. "I was told to be there at six. I don't get off work here until five." Ohhh, boy. Second Job Boss told me to talk with Crystal Shop Boss about the time change. Predictably, she was mad. And kind of offended. I'd messed with her employee code, and possibly some unspoken Sagittarian code, which did not include lenience towards those who wanted early dismissal from their work with little notice. Crystal Shop Boss let me know in her elegant, stern way that this was inconsiderate and unacceptable.
I called Second Job Boss back, my stomach churning. "I made a commitment to be here until five," I told her. "I didn't learn about the earlier time until you told me just now," I said, trying not to sound panicked and peeved. She sighed, said she'd see what she could do, and hung up.
I waited on her call, feeling the silent wrath of Crystal Shop Boss. Was this all really worth getting this mad? I wondered. I was getting more and more upset as I tried to do piddly things such as dusting the shelves and stamping order forms with product return information - anything to keep me busy while I waited on Second Job Boss to call. I wasn't sure who or what would kill me first: Crystal Shop Boss or the suspense. Urgggh.
The phone rang. It was for me.
Relief. A weight off my shoulders. A lowering of Madame Crystal's sword from over my head. As long as I took a cab straight to my second job once I got off at five, I'd be on to work tonight. Phew.
"Don't ever do that again," Crystal Shop Boss said.
"Oh, no ma'am," I said, my Southern girl roots showing.
We could all relax, and I could rejoice.
I grabbed my second job uniform, got out of the shop at five on the nose, and got a cab pretty quickly. I made it to the second job with minutes to spare and piled into a van for more work - and adventures of a crazier sort.