10/365: Rose at OfficeMax

She’s fresh in my mind, so I’m going to write about her.

I saw a cheap microphone — ten bucks — hanging on a rack, and I thought, you know, with all the singing I like to do, it couldn’t hurt to have something better than my headset mic. I sound worlds different when I use a desktop. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell whether the connection was USB or jack, and it sure didn’t say so on the box.

I flagged down my dad, and when he couldn’t tell, we both wandered up to the first associate we could find, this pompous Hewlett Packard representative who admonished Dad to buy an anti-static rug mat — yeah, because not knowing where they are in the shop means we don’t know anything at all about computers! So I went on to another cluster of employees, asked my question (“How does this plug in?”) and it was Rose, on the left, who was respectful and no-nonsense in her reply.

Rose, I should mention, had an exquisite Spanish matron thing going: long, black hair, tasteful yet dramatic makeup, swinging vowels. You could tell that in another life, in another economy, she wouldn’t be working retail but sipping mojitos on a balcony while her husband read the papers from all over Europe. She carried herself with dignity, rather than the slouch of the underpaid.

And when I was fighting to find my wallet in my purse, babbling about forgiving myself the little luxury, she didn’t blink. She just said, “Take your time.” (A lesson in itself.) Thanks to Rose, I have a MaxPerks rewards card, which I am sharing with the family because I am not the one who always “needs” a new computer gadget. It is yellow and shiny, and the little keychain tags look wonderful with Borders red, American Eagle green, and Blockbuster blue.

People like Rose make the prospect of working retail a little less daunting. She showed me that it’s not all dizzy teenagers and sweat-soaked business majors. It really is possible to retain that je ne sais quoi behind a cash register. It’s all in how you see yourself.

I want a glance in her mirror.

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