Well, people, I’m a shop-girl now. I sell clothes and work with women. I greet shoppers with a cheery smile and ring up their choice finds. I try my best to make their day—and usually, in succeeding, they make mine.
I’ve never had a real job before. I’ve baby-sat and chauffeured, tutored and been a Resident Assistant, (I even had a brief, colorful stint at a fragrance store before I realized my employer was a creep), but this is the first time I’ve worked for a company, complete with shifts, clocking in and out, and a thousand and one rules and regulations.
It’d been on the back of my mind over the winter that I should get a summer-job. Not, mind you, that I exactly wanted to. This past semester was exhausting—I needed the summer to recuperate. But money and experience would be nice… and besides—being lazy all summer is terrible for you! But before I had done anything about it, God kinda just made it happen.
I was shopping with my Mom over Spring Break, ‘took her to one of my favorite stores and spent a good hour ferrying clothes back and forth to her in the dressing room. I must have moved with the ease and familiarity I felt in this long-frequented store, because soon women were asking me to do things for them, mistaking me for an employee (several of which I spoke with at one time or another—whether it was by small-talk outside the dressing rooms or reeling in a clerk to get a shirt off a manikin). The next thing I knew, the middle aged women behind the counter told me, “You really should apply here.”
It made so much sense. I spoke with the acting manager—who assured me they always needed people (even if I came back for holidays from college), and who gave me the direct store address (while a younger employee added her input, “Yeah, you’d be good! You’re spunky!!!”)
Several phone-calls, two interviews, and three applications later (two went astray)–I had the job. (I’d tell you where but this is the internet and you might be a stalker who’d subsequently visit my store with a ridiculous ruse about black Bermuda shorts when really you have no such fashionable intentions.)
It’s been a month now and I have to say I’m really enjoying my job. It ended up being part-time, which I sheepishly admit I’m absurdly pleased about. It’s given me the job I wanted while affording me the leisure time to spend on friends and family (and books! I’ve already gotten through five since being home—reviews will come eventually). God knew what I needed.
It’s a humble job. I put clothes on hangers, fold and refold, endlessly straighten, and count out change. But I know that as a Christian I am called to glorify God in everything I say and do–and so I am called to be the best shop-girl I can possibly be.
I love seeing each customer as an opportunity—and as an individual. There they are, walking into your store—you have no idea what life they lead or what kind of day they’ve had. I know from experience that a surly clerk or thoughtless comment by a stranger can ruin an evening, change your mind about a company, or hurt even days later. But you have the chance in your few, short interactions to make their day better or worse–to shine light or add to their darkness.
I delight in winning over my customers with genuine joy and cheerfulness. I give sales-pitches like a tour-guide and try to make even sour, stone-faced madams (who obviously are NOT enjoying shopping) feel like I have sold them personalized chocolate. I’ve been told by women that I’ve made their day—or that they bought something simply because of my personality.
But I do worry that while I may bless my customers—I leave them more in love with me than with Christ. I don’t know how to change that, to in some way turn their compliments towards the Truth without spitting out some pithy, trite reply.
How will they know—after I’ve informed them of a special sale, or cheerfully said good-morning for the 90th time, or joked about a purchase despite my aching head and feet—that I do so not because I am some perpetually perfect, cheerful being (far from it!!!)—but because I’m taking my job seriously, my duty to my employer, and my desire to glorify God?
I was able to explain to my manger once about Christianity, the gospel, and the God who has died for me. I was feeling very unwell that day—the sheer emotion from the conversation was making me light-headed and dizzy so who knows what exactly I said. (I take comfort in Luke 12:11-12, when we’re told that the Spirit speaks for us in such times and elsewhere that His Word never returns void… because I was pretty foggy. If you think of me, pray for me and my coworkers, and that I’d have more such opportunities.)
In the meantime I struggle with not being a grump when I return to my family after an exhausting day of being completely on! I feel acute pity for working men—wrestling with the stress and pressures of work from 9-5 to return to an often lovingly-loud house. (People. Working makes the introvert want to crawl up in a little ball and sleep. or DIE. for at least twelve hours.)
But you never let a customer know what you feel. If it’s hot you comfort them with commiseration, if their coupon doesn’t work you apologize as if you yourself had made it expire. I make a thousand mistakes and apologize so often I think I should wear a name-tag saying so. I keep learning new rules. And I still haven’t been taught how to ring up a return purchase.
So I make up for it by smiling. And I scurry about my store with the industry of one who loves her job—and takes pride in making it flourish.
Good-morning, people, and welcome to my store.