Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho . . .

In the course of my life I have come up with some really Great Ideas. Unfortunately most of them involved WORK. The first of these Great Ideas came in 1953 after high school graduation. I thought it would be a good idea to join the adult world, get a job and find fame and fortune. After over fifty years of WORK, (minus a few periods of goofing off) I had another good idea, retirement. This was truly a good idea because, I discovered, I was made for retirement. I was really good at it and probably did that better than anything I had tried previously. After a few years of retirement, not willing to leave well enough alone, I came up with a really Great Idea. Why not make a couple of extra bucks by working a few shifts at Lands' End during "peak" (Christmas Rush). I applied for a job doing gift boxing. How hard could that be? How exciting, it was like being a North Pole Elf. Imagine boxing a scarf for Aunt Edna down in Alabama, a bra and panty set for cousin Norman in San Francisco, matching hooded parkas for the twins in San Diego or a monogrammed towel set for Uncle Marvin in a minimum security institution somewhere in upstate New York. What joy I would bring to so many people around the world. But at what price? It only took one shift (about 67 hours long) to realize how hard it could be for someone so suited for retirement. I requested my sentence be reduced to an every other day situation. I served my term and received my paycheck which just about covered the cost of a couple of pies needed for recovery from the ordeal. I suggested to JoAnne that if I ever mentioned working "peak" again she should contact the nearest vet and have him perform a similar procedure as one used to turn a bull into a steer (or is it a capon?) I had managed to avoid Great Ideas for a couple of years until the next one emerged. Why not work at The Lands' End Warehouse Sale? In short, this experience was no better than the gift boxing one except it involved standing outside in a tent for eight hours on hot asphalt in 237 degree heat. Nuff said! Fast forward to Spring 2009. It was sign up time for The Warehouse Sale. Time for another Great Idea. I've been trying to save up for a new computing machine for a while so maybe working as a Greeter at The Sale wouldn't be too bad. I'd get to engage in endless People Watching and use all those clever little antidotes that I amuse myself with in my retirement while passing out shopping bags to a captive audience of bargain hunters from the world over. This will be great, I can wave, and smile, and hop from foot to foot waiting for a potty break, I can tease little kids, I can see old acquaintances and exfellow workers who were there to buy the stuff that they've been trying to sell for the past year. I passed on pricing information to discount crazed customers as well as giving (sometimes correct) travel directions to disoriented shoppers. Actually the 5 day experience wasn't real bad. My main co-greeters were pretty cool. One a retired schoolteacher with the kind of work ethics that prompted Gary Commer to bring Lands' End to Southwest Wisconsin. I guess the years of teaching forced her to develop a good sense of humor. She was tall, lean and stern looking (let's call her Tallie). On my other side stood a short, slightly rounded jolly soul, a little ditzy but a fun person (Shortie). She laughed a a lot of my lame jokes. Things started out pretty good. We could stand, we could sit, there were lots of people to greet and chat with, we even had a water cooler right next to us. Then the unexpected! Our main job was to pass out large white garbage bags to customers as they entered the pavilion full of bargains. We had boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of nice new bags. But, when shoppers had shopped, paid up and exited the pavilion, they left their used bags with the cashiers who, in turn, bunched them up and brought the back to the greeters who were to recycle them by sorting out dirty and torn ones and repassing out the hole free ones to arriving customers. At last, the crappy part of the job had reared its rear. Tallie took it in stride, Shortie texted and twittered for outside encouragement and I tried to do more passing out and kibitzing than recycling. But the long run all three of us pitched in and got the job done. During the course of The Sale, special reductions would be announced. After the announcement that women's trousers were being reduced fifty percent, I spent a good part of an afternoon looking for women with their half off pants. I finally wised up after Tallie set me straight during a half off bra special. At one point I almost convinced Shortie that a woman in shorts had bought them at the "top half off special". All in all this may have been the best of my recent Great Ideas. Although I'm still not sure whether it may become an annual Great Idea.

Not having anywhere to keep my camera
I had to rely on my friend Google
to bring you a pic of The Sale.

Tallie, Shortie and Ron post sale.