1) It's not really a jungle out there -- and the general populace has not changed much in 30 years.
At least judging across the years from a mall card shop on the edge of a capital city to an antique mall on the edge of a captial city, I'm not seeing much difference. People really are not more rude, anyway, than they were when I worked retail as a teenager -- back in the stone ages. My last retail job was in a card store in a large mall in the 1980s -- in the thick of things, so to speak, the center of the universe of my youth -- and, honestly, the ratio of nice people to rude people is about the same now as it was then. In the '80s, for every 8.5 nice, patient, courteous customers, you got 1.5 rude ne'er-do-wells. And it's roughly the same today; for every kid and a half with a pierced eyebrow and satanic tee-shirt, we get eight and a half clean, well-dressed patrons in the store. But sometimes the kid with the piercings is nicer than one of the ones in khakis and button-down.
Mine do anyway!
3) People don't write checks any more.
Hardly ever. Cash still does show up in the register occasionally, and correct change every once in a blue moon (usually from the 50 and older crowd), but 75% (or more!) of the customers I see pay with plastic. We were speculating the other day how many twenty-somethings even know how to write a check. With direct deposit and paypal, it's possible that many don't even know how to endorse one. Money is all smoke and mirrors any more.
4) Old dogs really can learn new tricks.
Since I work in an antique mall, there's more to my job than just swiping a bar code - and I've
undoubtedly been slower than some at learning all the details of working with dealers, lay-away, storage, taxable vs. nontaxable items -- but I've been figuring things out. Nine times out of ten, I manage to catch my own mistakes and fix them before anyone knows I've goofed!
5) Your paycheck is pretty much spent before you get it.
Especially since I'm a sucker for antiques... Gleaned so far from my new job: antique aquamarine canning jars, two small lamps, bedside table for the guest room, vintage chenille bedspread, depression glass butter dish, and a 5' tall whirligig for the garden (still on lay-away, so I'm still paying for it...)
6) You have to leave the house ridiculously early if you're actually going to get to work on time.
Which is the same rule for every outing we've ever made as a family -- plus five extra minutes for every child under ten. The thing is, though, that I thought I wouldn't have to worry about starting so early since I'm the only one trying to get to work on time. But, sheesh. Getting out the door can be a challenge, even when it's only me. Everything conspires to stall me - from children's questions, to laundry I forgot to change over 'til the last minute, to cats tripping me on the way to the car...
7) It's harder to stay on a diet when you're working!
Holy cow. I thought it was hard saying "no" to the kids' home-baked brownies and muffins and mocha carmel latte espressos (or whatever it is they make) -- but it's much harder to turn your nose up at the home-baked goodies a kindly sixty-something co-worker is cajoling you to try. And the cookie jar of tootsie rolls and peppermints on the counter calling out to you when business is slow... And the mocha frappuccinos for sale in the cooler... Assailed from all directions, and more excuses to give in!
8) The computer register does everything but bag items and stock the cooler.
It's probably good to be able to count back money the old-fashioned way, but chances are I'll never get to show off that skill of the dinosaur era. Our computer register totals as it goes, pulls frequent customer and dealer information from its data banks and figures their totals, with all deductions and discounts magically figured. We can pull up the store's net sales of the day at a moment's notice, find the booth number(s) of any dealer, and hold a long list of saved items for a customer in the computer memory, ready for when they're finished shopping. But we still have to key everything in; no "swiping." Good thing I'm a pretty good typist!
9) Tidiness and attention to detail comes in handy everywhere, kids.
Our particular antiques mall doesn't employ a cleaning service; we are the cleaning service, and that'a fine with me. I have no problem sweeping and wiping down counters at the end of the day. I don't even mind cleaning bathrooms. Talk about my wheelhouse! Keeping the store tidy and clean is part of the job description -- and there's little I like better than toodling around an antique store, tidying up antiques, let me tell you! Did I luck into the perfect job, or what?
I'm blessed to work with particularly nice people -- kind, courteous folks, of conservative bent, and our customers are generally nice people, too. My hours are ideal, as I only work two nights a week and every other weekend, so the children are never left alone. I really do enjoy the retail antiques world; the inventory is incredibly diverse, interesting, and always changing. But, I miss my home and my children when I'm away. Before I started working, I don't think I realized how much my family and my vocation as a mother truly is the center of my heart. It was something I took for granted. No more, though. The extra income is nice and this part-time job is about as ideal as they come, but more than anything, working has made me realize that home is the center of the universe. The family hearth is where God's Heart started on this earth. I can imagine that Christ found rest during his public ministry remembering his days in Nazareth at the feet of His Mother and St. Joseph. And when I'm at work, walking 'round and 'round the antique mall helping customers, I look forward to being at home with the children, who -- if I play my cards right -- will rub my sore feet when I get home. Yes, indeed, home is good. (I wonder if the Blessed Mother rubbed Jesus' feet when He came home to visit after a long walk through Palestine? I wouldn't be surprised at all if she did. )