MUM MUM! I’m going to be on TV!

I am looking forward to Tomorrow morning because when I wake, I’ll brush my hair, wash my face (usually it looks like a snail slept at the corner of my mouth because of all the shiny drool marks), I’ll try to put on an outfit that doesn’t make me look fat or emphasize the natural redness of my face, and I’ll put on my clipity cloppy shoes, take my handbag full of grown-up things like keys and left-over birthday cake, and I’ll go to the TV studio where I do my internship with a happy little jiggle in my step. Because Tomorrow I get to film a reporter segment. That’s right, some crazy person here in Toronto is actually going to let me interview someone and (theoretically) put that gargled-word-spew on Television. Where people can watch it. People who haven’t been strapped to an electromagnetic pulsing chair with their eyelids held open.

Yay me!

In all seriousness, I probably won’t be that bad. I’ve done five minutes of research on the organization we are covering, and I even went to their website. I’ve read the media pack and I am good to go. How much more prepared could I be? Doing this uncut, un-edited 6 minute interview with children will be as easy as squashing my triple d’s into that bra I swear still fits.

It’s going to happen one way or another. I just hope it won’t be too painful.

No but seriously, I am so happy to have this opportunity. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m turning 24 next week, and for some reason I keep feeling like working in retail is crushing my soul and making me question if I’m doing the right thing being thousands of kilometres away from my family all alone in a random country that no one in my family had ever even thought of before I decided I’d never leave.

Oh I’m sorry… I didn’t mention that I’m having one of those what-the-hell-am-i-doing-with-my-life moments? At what point do we just give up and say “Paris you are not just having a what-the-hell-am-i-doing-with-my-life moment, you just generally don’t know what the hell you are doing with your life” ?

In theory, when people ask me about my life-plan, I mumble something about film and television and Tina Fey and riches enough to buy me a sweet purebred dog and an apartment overlooking some kind of harbour. And in theory, North America seems like the place to be for all that jazz, what with its massive amount of productions and population and all that stuff. And yes, you are right, technically I should be in LA or NYC but I haven’t figured out how to navigate the USA visa website without getting exhausted so SHUTUP I’m in Canada, which is like wanting to Keep up with a Kardashian but instead sitting in a room with Bruce Jenner trying to figure out how to find Kim or Koala or whatever the other ones are called.

In the last almost two months since that weird vortex called Camp finished and I came back and joined the real-world after a summer of living under a micro-scope and fighting about who got which days off, I have applied to probably 60 film and television companies based here. I have written funny cold call type emails and attached my Resume, I have tried to network with people I think might know people, I have literally not stopped pushing at that glass aquarium that surrounds the entertainment industry, trying to find a crack. And whoever did the waterproofing has surely done a fine job.

No cracks are to be found.

I did have an interview with a very big production and distribution company thanks to a friend of mines dad (oh did I tell you I didn’t know it was an interview and thought it was a meeting so…kindof just turned up totally mentally unprepared?) and even thought that went AWESOMELY I (surprisingly) didn’t really hear back from them (outside of it was great to meet you).

I know that people search for the right job for months and months, and its winter now and blah blah blah.

But give this girl a break.

I am hardworking and smart and I have a pretty great Resume for one seeking just an entry-level job… what is it?!

I need the Universe to unfold as it should FASTER. I am trying to approach each day as a learning experience, trying to keep faith with the old patience and trying to keep working and chipping at that old job-searching thing but LORD is it exhausting to try to contact 60 people and to hear back from 4, all politely to let you know that they currently aren’t hiring.

I’m not alone I know. I have two friends who just arrived in Toronto trying to get jobs too. And they are in Finance/HR and Business. So it isn’t like it’s just my industry. BUT COME ON! We’re girls and we need to start making some money so we can buy nice things and take our boyfriends to trendy restaurants. This isn’t the 50’s any more. A girls got to work it.

Thank god the internship I’m doing is still throwing challenges at me and making me feel like I’m maybe not probably trying to cling to the imaginary hope of a career in this industry.

So yeah, I’ll let you know when you can tune in. Hopefully the Canadians will be able to understand my accent.

End Rant

(Photocredit: Icanhazcheezburgers.com)

Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night…and other Meat Loaf lyrics

So I may have mentioned that I am working in retail lately…and that I loathe it.

I’m subtle, so you probably haven’t picked up on it really, but there it is. I am not the retail industries number one fan. I have a new-found respect for people who work in this industry full-time, people who have to deal with people every day. BRRRR. Worst. Take me back to the cold lonely office.

No no. I jest (somewhat) people aren’t all bad, and neither is retail. The 50% off discount is pretty sweet (oh wait, did I need to pay my rent this month with that money? Woopsies!) and on occasion, it has allowed for some pretty creative ideas to form in my mind (like… lets start a family band!) as all those mindless hours folding clothes and getting sizes, and scanning and bagging let my mind roam of the great plains of imagination.

And as I have mentioned… I occasionally get to interact with human beings that make me think that we’re not all bad (just some of us).

This week was insanely long, and yet surprisingly quick, if that is at all possible. I think it was because the Thanksgiving long weekend loomed, and I had a whole lot of hanging around looking cool to do. The store I work in had a big sale Thursday and Friday and I racked up 18 hours of standing at a cash register processing people’s purchases. I felt like a zombie and forgot how to even have a real conversation with people or how to make connections with them, because the line to check out was out the shop and around the corner. One of the girls spent hours just standing guard at the lines to make sure people didn’t just walk off with stuff.

But earlier in the week I had two very strange and yet special encounters with people. One was a deaf lady who wanted to buy a leather Jacket. I am an extremely good lip reader, so conversing face to face was not a problem with this customer, but difficulties arose when she went into the change room and wanted to try different things on. Usually we only need knock and hand things over. Not possible in this case. The woman was very nice, petite and short with a big sparkly ring on the 2nd last finger of her left hand. We also ran into difficulties as she spoke with the accent of someone that has clearly been deaf their entire life. The word medium bewildered the both of us for a good thirty seconds and I was definitely the more embarrassed.

But she found what she needed and she was happy. Off she went into the world…leaving a piece of herself with me to think and muse about.

Then the following day, a woman with dark glasses and a gorgeous black labrador came in. Well dressed, nicely groomed, I noticed her standing in the middle of the shop fingering a couple of things here and there. I finally approached her and asked if I could help her. She asked me if we still had any of the gray work pants with the blue stripe through them that we used to have in the window. This woman was completely blind.

Her beautiful black lab wagged his tail slowly and I scratched his nose, aware that you are not meant to really fuss over guide dogs as they are working. I then spent a very strange half an hour with this woman, trying to gage what she might like by asking questions (we no longer had any more of the gray pants with the blue stripe through them). When I asked her if she was after anything in particular she replied:

“No, I’m just looking around.”

She wasn’t trying to be funny (you’ll notice that when I asked if she was after anything in particular I studiously avoided the word “look” because there have been instances in my life where I have been extremely insensitive and said things I shouldn’t have in the wrong settings. Like the time in Year 9, the first year at my new school in Hong Kong, when a young boy in a wheelchair asked if he could race a friend of mine the distance of the oval, and as they began I screamed at the top of my lungs “RUN DAVID RUN!” much to the horror of my politically correct Year 9 friends who were obviously, even then, more sensitive than I will ever be.)

So I didn’t laugh. Which was good. And instead I brought her things, described them the best I could (for a writer and someone who uses a lot of words…my vocabulary is shit…and I suck at life) and basically helped her “Look around”. She was so lovely, and was very thankful. For me, it was a surreal experience that I have been processing since the start of the week.

So there it is.

Tiny, weird exceptions to the I hate retail mantra I have taken up.

Oh yeah, and happy Thanksgiving…and stuff

Tell me I’m Pretty

If there is one saving grace to retail (and it’s a stretch to even suggest there is) it is not, as may be expected, the 50% discount on clothes (because it just makes it that much easier to SPEND your hard-earned cash there), for me, it is in fact the customers.

I guess I haven’t been working in customer service long enough to have a horror story about a crazy that walked off the street and into a rage at me because they were having a bad day (although there was a lady a few days ago who yelled at a co-worker of mine when she tried to “return” a pair of pants my store doesn’t carry with the tags snipped off).

I am a people person, a curious writer, and generally a nosy mole, who likes to try and find out what makes people tick. Don’t worry, I have already quizzed all my co-workers about their life stories (and stealthily tried to figure out how they got stuck in retail after having degrees…more out of horrified fascination than anything else…like looking at the blue flame welders use..bad for the senses but impossible to look away) and a part of the selling gig is to try and figure out what the client wants and how to get it.

The shop/chain I work for sells only women’s clothes and accessories and they are kind of corporate, but on the reasonably priced side. The shop is also located in an underground shopping mall on the PATH system (a rabbit warren-like affair that stretches underground through parts of downtown Toronto to prevent people from having to go outside in the freezing cold. It is like an underground city with clothing stores, banks, food courts…waxing places…juice bars…there’s probably a car dealership down there somewhere. I’m not sure why there would be…but I’m sure there is) and most of the customers we get work in the corporate offices stacked on top of us.

The ladies range in age from Intern-types fresh out of Uni, to the older working woman. And while there are customers I have connected with, and those that I haven’t, my favourite age group is the late thirties to mid forties/early fifties. These are women who ACTUALLY listen to what I have to say, ask my opinion, want to open the fitting room door and show me what they got.

Some of these women remind me of my Mum. They are mostly patient and not used to shopping for themselves so they are willing to listen to suggestions. They have money so they aren’t horrified by a sweater that costs $30.

A lot of them have body issues. A lady today who was gorgeous, Indian skin but with a cool British accent, told me she’d recently lost 19 pounds on some German diet I think she called the “Dukan”? She liked a little black corporate dress and she tried on the Small and the XS. She had a petite frame but you know what? She had a bit of a wobbly bit on front.

“My Kids did that”

She told me. And she tried on both sizes, got a belt to try to jazz it up, put a cardigan over it to see…and she just couldn’t sell it to herself. My approach to this crappy job is that I never want to be pushy. I am a natural talker and I’m honest. I am competitive so, I want to do well in any situation, but I REFUSE to lie and act like a simpering idiot. I was straight with her and told her it looked great but that it was a personal preference. I too happened to be wearing a little black corporate number and you know what? I have a jiggle round the middle too. AND I HAVEN’T EVEN HAD KIDS! No excuse.

This lady, who was super nice and interested in my Aussie accent told me that she hadn’t worn form-fitting clothes in a long time. She was getting used to her body again. She didn’t buy the dress, but I think she felt a little bit confident and sexier having tried it on.

Same deal with the lady who came in on Friday and need an after work drinks type shirt for a last-minute reunion at a pub. She grabbed an XL shirt and I made her get a large. She was shocked. I made her try it on and it wasn’t even tight. It was more form-fitting for sure. I told her the truth, that she had a great waist and that she should emphasize it. We chatted for quite a while and when she left, (after buying the shirt) she turned to my manager and said “I hate shopping, but i’ll be back because of her”, and she smiled and waved, even gave me a cheeky wink!

These women, who are still attractive, functioning, smart, hardworking people, come into a shop for 15-20 minutes and talk to me – blah, under functioning, retail-bum, Masters-holding random (who by the way used to dress appallingly), and they can walk away feeling good because somebody told them that something looked good on them?

I want to stand on the street corner stopping random people and tell them they look nice today, or that that colour suits them. If an item of clothing can put a spring back in their step, then maybe retail ain’t so bad.

Anyway, I’ll keep getting up and going back because I need to support myself while I do this internship and figure out WTF I am doing with my life…but if these ladies keep coming back…then maybe I’ll even learn to smile about it…

a bit…

Paris

What I have learned from working in Retail for 1 Week

 

At the age of almost-but-not-quite-24-so-lets-still-call-me-23 I have just gotten my first retail job. Working in retail was something I was always vaguely curious about (because I had never worked in it, it held a sort of mysticism) but as to the way things worked out when I first started working during the end of high school/University, my jobs always seemed to revolve around desk work or teaching.

I started doing an internship at a TV company here in Toronto 3 weeks ago. And as much as I would like to say that I could afford to do that, and sit around on my fleshy little bum the rest of the time, I can’t so boo. Off I went to find a part-time job.

Minimum wage here in Canada is $10.25 an hour, and most places that you look for a customer service job, that is the going rate.

“But Whatever,” I told myself. I just need enough money to sustain me for 3 months while I intern, and then I will find a creative job that pays the big bucks, and I will spend all my free time writing blogs and screenplays, and watching movies, and trying to figure out the scientific code to becoming a famous, fatter version of Tina Fey, and conquering the world by writing, and WINNING ACADEMY AWARDS. This is going to be so great.

So retail:

What have I learned there in the first week?

1. Working in retail gets you sweet discounts on clothes from that company. I’m talking 50% off. If I had known that the continuous sale on clothes was a perk of working in retail, then I would have started doing this a long time ago! I would have worked one day a week just to get my hands on some delicious items. Don’t pay me, just give me stuff! In fact, I’m not sure that I actually MADE any money this week. There was one day where I bought lunch at the food court AND a tight, hot little red “sweater” and because I worked a three-hour shift (why is that a thing?!) I actually broke even….

Note to self: Compulsive shopper working in retail store = bad

2. Customer Service is really easy, and REALLY noticeable when not there. I feel like I need a special retail badge now to communicate with other people working in shops that I understand them. I get you bro, wink, flash them my badge, “It’s okay, I’m one of us now.” This is going to seem really bad, and expose how naive of a desk jockey I have been, but when people greet you in a store and help you find things, that really encourages you to get something and not just be like…meh! and leave! This week I was positioned all over, Cash, Dressing rooms, Front, and always (I was being instructed) be helpful, ask if you can find sizes, greet them, ask how they are… it really makes a difference! I went into a mall yesterday and was browsing around, and when no one greeted me, I left in under five minutes. subconscious. Retail = mind control… or something

3. People in Retail walk around a lot. I want to get a step counter because I swear to god I am burning off some excellent calories from walking around the store finding things, tidying things. It is a lot of walking around and standing. There is no sitting involved, and when you are on your feet for a seven hour shift (uhhhh so depressing that that equals $70…I must stop doing that) you really start to feel that ache in your feet and legs. Good. Add, lose tonnes of weight and get super sexy and offered a magazine colour to that list from above.

4. People in general, don’t suck as much as I thought they would. I’ve seen the movies, I was prepared for the worst. Customers screaming at me, unhappy, me, flustered with my accent which the Canadians this is wildly hilarious. But maybe that’s all south of the border in America land, because Canadian customers (thus far) have been really nice. They always compliment me on helping them find just what they were looking for, they always say goodbye and thanks when they leave. I’ve even overheard one or two of the regulars telling my manager that they think I’m great! It restores your faith in humanity to hear things like that, and to not work somewhere where people are angry or pissed off, or rude.

And those are just some of the loose observations I have made after 1 week in retail. I am the expert now, so come to me with your questions and let me solution them.

Paris