Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Last night I soloed. Not in an airplane, no not that. In something far more daring: I kept the shop running alone all evening and, at the end, I closed it up.

There are 68 steps to follow in the shutting of the store for the night (I kid you not), but they are written by a person with a degree in retail and so you can assume that they make sense. After a couple of nights watching others do it, I was ready.

Except on step number 45, I stalled. The cash did not add up. I counted again. Same totals, same problem. I could, I thought, document the discrepancy and move to step number 46. But once large amounts are missing (it was nobody's fault - a system malfunction), the remaining 23 steps are affected (well, not the last: I can still do step number 68 – turn on the alarm and scoot off). I stumbled along, compounding the errors I’m sure, while daughters waited patiently outside.

We ate dinner closer to midnight than the preferred earlier hour.

This morning, I went to the market and I looked on with envy as vendors conducted their business. The beauty is in the simplicity of it all: they set out their flowers, their produce…



They take in the money, placing it in an apron pocket or a cash box…



And at the end of the day they either grin at their good fortunes or sigh with disappointment, but from my point of view, their two steps to the sale (take in money and count it) make theirs a far more pleasurable marketplace. (I’m not even going to mention what must be the joy of selling something that a customer can’t return for a store credit. One that two minutes later they turn around and use on you. With the balance going to a credit card. Or cash. Or both. Unless they decide it’s all too much and so they have you start all over again. Have a wonderful evening! You too!)

Tonight I am to work at the shop again and I now regard it in the way that the woman attacked by a distempered raccoon regards the woods: a once gentle place suddenly appears hostile and threatening, full of wild beasts ready to pounce. Except my raccoons are sitting somewhere in a corporate office far away, outlining my steps and putting together a track of music that I have to listen to. Over and over. Wondering what surprise attack the cash box holds for me at the end of the long day.

Ah well. Work is work. Even if conducted in a pretty environment, one with the soft colors and scents of summer.