I quit the temp job today. I only had a few days left, but I weighed up the pros and cons, cost of getting to London vs. hourly rate, my sense of sanity vs. rude customers, that sort of thing, and decided, enough's enough.
I woke up this morning and I wasn’t in the mood in the first place. I had been out for a few drinks with some old work colleagues on Saturday night, which made a nice change to be honest as I really hadn't had a chance to go out for ages.
Now a combination of me not really being a drinker and also not having gone out for some time, it left me feeling a little worse for wear yesterday. I felt fine coming home. Found my flat ok. Managed to get the key in the lock the first time. And didn’t even have a 20 minute conversation with my cat in the hallway. I even had a normal phone call with the missus who said I sounded fine and not drunk like she expected.
And yet when I woke up the next day I felt terrible. I also had the indignity of looking in the mirror and finding out that my face was as white as milk and my lips had turned purple from the red wine I had been drinking. I either looked like the world’s oldest emo kid, or a slightly hairier, less effeminate, and certainly less punch able version of that bloke out of Twilight.
So thinking I would be fine for work today, I woke up to still find that I was feeling the effects of Saturday.
What a Jessie!
So my long and freezing cold trek to work, plus the slight nausea I was feeling, really didn’t help me get into that retail spirit.
So when I arrived at reception to speak to the beautiful people that organise the temps, my mood was a little on the dark side.
I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this.
I walked over to the head beautiful person, someone who I really didn’t like very much. She was one of those people that spoke down to you without even hiding it. Plus she wore far too much make up. It coated her face like plaster on a plasters radio. It was so thick that if she were to turn a corner, her makeup would be coming at you first before her body was.
“Hello Dan. We didn’t expect you in today. We thought you weren’t working.” she said, with her normal flat tone.
Yes! I can go home!
“But I’m sure we can find you a place to work.” she finished off, noticing the happy look fade from my eyes.
Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Curses! And I would have got away with it if it weren’t for you pesky beautiful people!
“Oh good.” I replied in my most sardonic manner.
It turned out I was to work in the shirt and ties section. That would be fun, wouldn’t it? Shirts. Ties. Yeah, that could really get me through the day. Shirts. Ties.
I was led up to meet the head of clothing section. A stereotypical camp man who sort of looked me up and down and said “Yeah, you’ll do.”
Ohhhh, get you, bitch.
“Walk this way.” he said to me, and then minced off flouncy like past the Calvin Klein section. I resisted the urge to mimic his walk, but settled for a butch manly stride in case people thought we were together.
“Right, wait here a moment by the Armani section, and I will get someone to come and collect you and take you where you are supposed to go.” he told me.
“Will do!” I replied, with more energy than I felt.
So I stood there like a lemon. All the people that worked in the Armani bit looking at me oddly.
Ten minutes passed. No one came.
Another five minutes passed.
No one came.
Eventually one of the Armani people came over to me.
“Are you meant to be working here today?” she asked me.
“No, not here,” I replied “Someone is meant to be coming to collect me.”
“Well you are confusing the customers, they think you work in this section, could you stand over there please.” she said, pointing at a spot that was probably about two foot away from my feet.
“Are you serious?” I replied.
I took one step over to the right.
“How's that?” I asked.
“Perfect.” she replied with a little smile.
“Excellent.” I replied back with as much sarcasm as I could muster (which is a lot).
So I stood there. Right in the way of the flow of customers. Which with my shiny name badge on, immediately screamed out STAFF WHO KNOWS WHERE EVERYTHING IS.
“Excuse me, could you tell me where the baby section is?” someone asked me.
I had no idea.
“Er, I think that's on level 2?” I bluffed.
Another customer came up to me.
“Could you tell me where the gloves are?”
“Level 2.” I said, thinking I might as well stick with the same story.
“Thank you.” they replied, heading off to the escalator.
All in all I must have had about nine people come up to me asking where various things were, and each time I sent them up to level 2, which by now in my head, had grown to the size of Narnia and contained literally everything in the world. Bugger doing the stock take up there I thought. I could just picture the whole of the department store empty apart from the mythical level 2, where crying customers milled around like bewildered sheep, wondering why nothing was meant to be where it was.
By now, about half an hour had passed since my camp friend had left me.
This is getting stupid. Where the bloody hell were they?
Eventually another ten minutes passed and it was plainly obvious they had just gone off and left me.
A simple word formed in my head. And that word was:
“Screw this.” I muttered, and went off to the locker room to get my bag and coat.
Once I got my bits, I headed over to the exit and the beautiful people that ran the temps, the one I spoke to this morning was actually putting more makeup on as I came over!
“That bloke you left me with has just gone off and left me standing like an idiot for about 40 minutes. I’m off home as my day has been wasted. I think this will be my last day here.” I said, trying to avert my gaze as she tore hers away from her compact mirror. I feared if she looked at me I would turn to stone, like she was some kind of Medusa after a makeover.
“Oh no, that's awful.” she said with fake sincerity. “I will definitely have a word with them about this”
We both know full well that she would do no such thing.
So as I left this place, I knew in my heart I was never to return. I have my nice new job coming up in a month, and the world of retail should hopefully be nothing more than a distant memory to me. As I walked through the door, I thought about raising my fist in the air, Judd Nelson style from The Breakfast Club, but to be honest it was snowing and I didn’t have any gloves on.
Till monkey no more.