December 2010


I just tried to hang up a blouse. Six separate times. On two different hangers. The thing was absolutely determined NOT to be hung. Tears were nearly shed.

This little interaction between me and the blouse is the perfect summation of my day.

Having closed the store (at midnight) last night, I planned to let myself sleep until 9 this morning. At nine, I pressed the tiny button on my phone to snooze. At 9:05, I did the same. By 9:30, I was pressing the button without even regaining consciousness. This went on until 10:30 this morning. Folks, please keep in mind I work in retail and am closing the store three nights in a row. I don’t want to sleep until 10:30, even keeping in mind that I get home around 12:45 (or 1:20 am, like this morning), but my body makes me. I can’t change this biological imperative. I must sleep. So my morning is totally shot.

Once I was finally up and going, I started a chore on my lengthy list and then got distracted and began another chore. As this happened multiple times, I accomplished almost nothing.

Then, off to work – and early, too, because the store was busy and an associate called in sick. Our District Manager, the slightly intimidating man that he is, was already there evaluating our store’s level of awesomeness. One bright spot was that I arrived at the store at the same exact moment as a former boss and rather-important-fellow at the corporate office and it had been ages since I last saw him. I can’t tell you what a treat it was to get to visit with him as we worked in the store. Apparently I have Cam Newton to thank for bringing Rather-Important-Fellow to visit the Auburn store. Thanks, Cam. If I could, I’d lift you on my shoulders, too.

There was nothing wrong with the next few hours. Nothing too frustrating. I was coping all right, considering the usual stresses of managing others.

Then someone just had to return an Extremely-Valuable-Piece-of-Technology that required multiple flaming hoops to be jumped through. By me. Before the store closed. And of course, concurrently, traffic at the store picked up due to a book signing. Never will I complain about a book signing that goes well. It’s a lovely thing.

I will, however, complain that I didn’t get a chance to do my hoop jumping until around 10:45pm. And because of a technical malfunction with some of our equipment, I had to literally climb walls in order to jump through more hoops to jump through the ORIGINAL flaming hoops. Honestly, I’m losing track of the hoops. There were a lot. Most of them burning. Acrobatics were required.

Okay so I had a male associate do most of the actual wall-climbing. But I had done a little climbing before I finally decided that was a danger to myself and my surroundings and called in some assistance.

Anyway, it took me an hour to wade through the paper-trail-CYA bureaucracy involved in returning said Extremely-Valuable-Piece-of-Technology, at which point it was half an hour before the store was to close and I had to cash out FIVE registers.

Five.

Usually by half an hour to close, I have three registers to cash out, count the deposit, and then all of the end-of-day paperwork involved in retail daily closings. If I’m really fast, I can get one register done before closing and the other two counted after close, count the deposit and do my paperwork and be done by about 45 minutes after we lock the doors.

It should come as no surprise that I started cashing out registers at 11:30 and we didn’t leave the parking lot until 1:15. A. M.

There were several moments where I had to remind myself to breathe. I had to stop to relieve myself when I thought my bladder was going to explode. I had to get some ice water when I felt a little woozy. I had to encourage my associates to greater heights while still getting these bothersome details sorted out.

But when I got home tonight, I just about fell apart when the damn shirt wouldn’t stay on the damn hanger. It’s like it all just hit me in that moment that my job can be really frustrating. And I work incredibly long hours. Just today, I worked 10 hours. On my feet, climbing walls, jumping through hoops, trekking from the front of the store to the office then back again, answering associate questions. Helping customers. Scheduling breaks. Cramming a sandwich down my throat. Chatting with an author. Bolstering the attitudes of my sometimes discouraged co-workers. Cleaning spills. Straightening shelves. Reading reports.

Who has the time to breathe with all that going on? Good thing it’s involuntary, or I’d be long dead.

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About a month ago, I agreed to cat-sit my parents lovely, fluffy gray cat Willow while they were in Louisiana visiting my little sister. There were perks. A huge house all to myself for two days, plenty of bottles of wine in the basement, permission to ‘throw a party’ Saturday night, and for all this, I would get paid. All I had to do was let the cat in and out of the house during the day, make sure she was inside at night, and keep her fed and watered. Couldn’t ask for a better set-up!

The bad news was, I had to close the store the Friday night before, and Birmingham is a two-hour drive away. I made it to my house after midnight sometime. Read and wrote for too long, fell asleep around 2 am, woke up at 6:30, packed and headed out the door because, oh, there was one other draw back to the situation – I had to be in Birmingham by 9 to let the cat out because she’d spent the entire day before cooped up inside. For that, I got a cash bonus. Of course I would sacrifice sleep for cash. So I got in my pathetic little car at 7am, freezing my…umm…nose? off, feeling perhaps more physically uncomfortable than I’ve felt in some time, and drove for two hours.

My activities for the day consisted of boring things no one cares to hear about, letting the cat in and out of the house, watching a football game and taking a nap. That night, Dear and Funky friends came over to my parents’ house for pizza and beer, which actually started as pizza and a bottle and a half of wine, then beer, and for me, more beer, to top off the margarita wine cooler I’d had before the girls had even arrived. Knowing as you do from a previous post, I have a very low tolerance for alcohol and sometimes I get carried away.

Also, alcohol has this uncanny ability to make one need to pee. Obviously, I ended up on the toilet. With my phone. Drunk.

Anyone who knows me also knows I am highly ungraceful, and that’s when I’m sober. When I’ve had too much, I’m a walking disaster. Needless to say, my phone ended up in the toilet.

Have I mentioned that I just purchased this phone the day before? Right. I’d just purchased the phone the day before. And it was in the toilet. Effing hell.

Funky friend offered some sage advice. A bag of uncooked rice. Otherwise, she and Dear Friend just made fun of me. I, however, was inconsolable. My phone! My life-line! I do not do well without it. I had to have a replacement. Immediately. I was no longer a happy silly drunk, I was a belligerent and devastated drunk no one wanted to be around. Funky Friend excused herself shortly thereafter. As I was letting her out the door, out also went Willow. You know, the cat who wasn’t supposed to go outside after dark? Yeah. That one.

Gah.

Obviously the only solution was to run around the wet yard in my sock feet screaming after little Willow in the hopes that she would for some reason come back to me. The raving lunatic. Cats just love raving lunatics running around in wet socks. Of course, she ran.

As frustrated as I was by Willow getting away, I had more important things to deal with after Funky’s departure. I  needed another phone. Stat.

The continuing problem was that I was drunk and could not drive. The solution: Dear Friend is also Perfectly Responsible Friend and had consumed far, far less alcohol than I had, and nothing in the last hour of our gathering.

I didn’t have to do much begging before I was in her SUV’s passenger seat being chauffeured to the nearest Wal-Mart.

Which was closed.

Wal-Marts CLOSE?!?!? Who knew.

Anyway, there is another Wal-Mart not far down the road and Dear Friend is quite dear, so she drove me to that one. Where I drunkenly questioned the only electronics worker on duty after midnight on a  Saturday night. He was unhelpful. Apparently some Wal-Marts close and not all Wal-Marts carry the same product. I’d purchased my phone the day before at the Wal-Mart where I live.

Blast and bother.

Dear Friend drove a sullen LizHarrell back to her parents’ home, then left. LizHarrell stood out in the cold and called for Willow for two solid minutes on both the front and back porches. LizHarrell was ignored, or was else the cat was incapable of hearing from the gut of a coyote.

I then got on AIM with Dear Friend who volunteered her spare cell phone. By this time, I was so sober it wasn’t even funny, so I drove over to her house, got the spare phone, and drove back to my parents’.

Called for Willow again.

She ignored me, again.

Quietly, I made up a little bed on the sofa between the front and back doors. I had a cell phone again, and had high hopes for the bag of uncooked rice restoring my brand new phone to its brand new state. But I had failed at my only charge for the weekend. Willow was out in the freezing night, being pursued by large scary animals, and I was to blame.

I huddled into a ball on the sofa and waited with as much optimism as I could muster for Willow to return home. I fell asleep.

And at 7am, Willow came prancing up to the back door as if nothing at all was wrong. Apparently the rule about her staying inside at night was unnecessary. As was my night on the sofa.

As always (knock on wood), I avoided a hangover. My parents returned home to a clean home and were not too annoyed by the missing alcohol. I never told them about the phone… but it didn’t matter. The bag of rice actually worked!

As it turns out, not all mistakes are irreversible or disastrous. Cats come home and phones dry out. Knowing that certain mistakes can be undone is really very comforting. If only it were always so easy as a night on the sofa and a bag of uncooked rice!