Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more.
– William Shakespeare, Macbeth
The sound of the alarm drowns out my dream and slaps me into reality. I grab my phone from its holder and hit the snooze button multiple times until time forbids me from repeating it anymore. I get up and let out a lazy yawn, force my feet to the bathroom and get ready for what awaits ahead.
A part time job at a clothing chain I have a love-hate relationship with, which varies depending on two factors: boss and customers.
Upon arrival, my colleagues tease me about the girl that has been posting on my Facebook wall, retweeting my Tweets and commenting on my Instagram pictures. I shrug it off. She’s just another girl that finds me good looking, nothing unusual about that, adding to my colleagues how they are being stalk-ish for noticing, too.
Just thirty minutes before opening hours, my boss comes in and tells us the new arrivals have just come in and we have to at least fill a rack and change the mannequins, otherwise it will come off our paychecks. A swarm of boxes enter the store and terrified and disgusted faces are shown. Our boss notices and reminds us to keep a smile on our faces when we face the customers.
We split duties and carry out our tasks silently, feeling the tension slowly growing in the room. Today seems like a day where I hate my job, then. Unfortunately.
It is time to open the store, but it’s still too early for any customer to swing by just yet. We have thirty minutes to an hour tops before our first customer comes in. I curse under my breath, already exhausted from folding and carrying piles and piles of clothes to their respective racks. The annoyance in my tone is unmistakable when I ask one of my colleagues about the hangers. “Get it from the hanging old clothes,” she answers. Great. Extra work.
Time is up. Our efforts are pretty good given the time constraint, at least most of the clothes are on display. A customer asks me about a blouse in size XS. I tell her the smallest size in our store is only a size S. She looks at me with an disgruntled look and says, “What a joke,” and shoves the blouse into my hands. I smile and apologize. Inside, I’m yelling at her face and throwing the blouse back at her, saying how it is her fault for starving into such a small figure, and I hope she doesn’t find clothes her size in any other store in this mall.
For the rest of the day, I do the same things: smile, be polite, thank customers for no reason–when in my mind they should be thanking me, not the other way round–and mindlessly fold clothes. I especially cannot stand customers who pick up folded clothes, when there are hanging ones put on display. I have to tolerate their lack of intelligence and point out the obvious, all with a smile plastered on my face. There are also considerate and mannered customers, too, but for some reason, the bad outweighs the good today.
The paycheck is worth it, I have to constantly remind myself, as a way of maintaining my sanity almost. I’m putting on a show, pretending to be a puppet that can’t speak his mind and have to be happy all the time, bubbling every drop of anger within me until it is completely buried.
The day ends. We stay back to do some tidying up before going home. At home, I use my laptop to catch up, eat late dinner, take a shower and sleep.
And the cycle starts all over again.
In public, in front of the world, I have to pretend I am okay with everything, please everybody and swallow my pride. This is as real as it gets.
Strangely inspired by the people at Uniqlo. They’re all so crazy friendly and helpful, I couldn’t help but think what if they’re hiding something? Props to them for excellent customer service though!