Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Observations from behind a Customer Service Desk

There were six glorious weeks over April and May when I was too busy to blog because of work. And although I missed the interaction with my imaginary friends, I will have to admit that truly enjoyed the feeling of being busy and productive for a change.

The upside of all those blogless days was being able to gather oodles of anecdotes to share with you. As a customer service rep in a busy shopping centre I had the privilege of interacting with some very interesting specimens of humanity. Unlike the Oscars where the lists of mentions are long and boring, I've chosen instead to focus on the most brilliant, funny, amusing and touching sightings that I now share with you.

  • A rather large middle aged woman wearing a t shirt that read " Man Eater". Half of me applauded her nerve while the other half was dying to ask her if that meant she had literally devoured one of the male species. She sure looked like she'd had a rather large lunch.
  • Tween gay boys shopping with their tween girlie pals. About the only wise thing I've seen from the girls of this place. Coz really, their boyfriends would NOT put up with long hours of mindless window shopping and of them trying out endless outfits all in a bid for the "Who's Cutest" crown.
  • On the other end of that spectrum, we have the long suffering husbands holding multiple carrier bags either walking a couple of steps behind their bustling wives or standing around at designated spots waiting for the women to materialise out of various shops.
  • Old dears with their bus pass hanging around their neck reminding me of kindergarten kids who have their hankies pinned to their shirts. Ah, bless!
  • Ugly parents with surprisingly cutie babies that make me think about the miracle of genetics.... and hospital swaps.
  • The ability of mums or child minders to simply block out and effectively ignore the otherwise penetrating siren like wails emitting from their charges.
  • Mothers and daughters out shopping together. Sometimes, accompanied by Gramma, Aunties and a cousin or two. Family resemblances abound. Sometimes a blessing, other times more like a curse and a definitive reason for cosmetic surgery.
  • Couples that dress alike. Never a good thing no matter what your age. Particularly disturbing when they get matching his and her fake tans.

There were the folk that stopped by the desk. 95% of the time they wanted directions to the toilets and my colleagues and I used to come up with a number of ways to lead them to the destination. The customer service desk itself was situated on the lower level in front of a large Boots store. And yet, we would have at least one or two people EACH SHIFT who'd stop by our desk to ask directions to..... the Boots store. I would also like to point out that my chair and desk backed the store so in fact they'd actually be facing the store while asking me the question!

Then there was that one time when a lady came up to me asking about the hairdressers on the second floor. I told her that we didn't have one on the second floor, but there was one on the lower level.
Lady: No, No. Its on the second floor of the XYZ shopping centre. I know it is!
Me: Ma'am you do realise that this is the ABC shopping centre? XYZ is across the street.
Lady: Well of course I know that. But this is information isn't it?
Me: *sigh*

Or the time when E and I were approached by one of G Town's finest teenage population.
Boy: Cannae tell me whey *grifbidhvghs* is?
Me/E: Erm... pardon?
Boy: *ahcuyrkjib* - I'm lookin' fore eet.
Me/E: *walking round to be closer to him* Sorry, we still didn't get that.
Boy: *looking at us like we're special*
Me: I know, why don't you write it down for us!
Boy: *walks off in disgust*
E: Pixy, you're asking a NED to spell something other than his name?

Yes, very silly of me indeed. No wonder the lad thought I was special.

While we're at it, we mustn't forget the Grabbers, so called because they'll pick up anything and everything that's not nailed down. Promotion leaflets, discount flyers, free magazines, scraps of paper all of it goes rapidly into their over sized bags already full with junk that they've picked up at various other places.

Also high on the list were the Regulars. The folk who day in and day out were at the shopping centre. Mostly window shopping, browsing, looking around. Characters, each one of them. Some would wave a hello as they went passed, others would stop to chat for a while. One in particular would stay and chat for a while. Sometimes a really long while. But she is a lovely person, just looking to fill some of her day with affable company. I can understand and appreciate that.

There were also a host of lovely fellow centre employees I met during the assignment. Security staff, cleaners, shop assistants and more. Of course, I made friends with the good people at the coffee shop on my very first day! And most of all the lovely Tigger; first colleague and now friend. Sometimes a job can give you so much more than just a pay cheque.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Midsummer's Night's Fauxpas

For some weeks now, a friend has been telling me about the free comedy night at the Halt Bar in the west end of G Town. G has recently started his journey as a stand up comedian and of course its always best when you fill the venue with friends sympathetic to your cause. I'd been meaning to check the place out for sometime, but things kept getting in the way. Finally, last week I made it.

The evening had a bit of a shaky start as G was running late which meant that I sat at the bar nursing a beer until the gig began. I'm very used to being solo on many occasions and at many venues; a bar is just not one of them. Thankfully it wasn't a terribly long wait and as soon as the host got on stage I figured people would focus on him and not at the looser at the bar by herself!

Divided into 3 sets, the evening featured six amateurs and one professional act. The amateurs ranged from an absolute novice who snapped the proverbial cherry that night to others who had been on a circuit for some time but were still dabbling. Most of them had good material and garnered laughs from the audience. One of them was totally weird, but hey... there's one in every crowd isn't there?

Post event, G introduced me to some of his pals including the evenings host. Turning to greet him, I wasn't prepared for the explosive Is this her? Is she the one? that was yelled in my face. Choking back the laughter at my bewildered expression, G explained things to me. Back when E (his gf) and I were working together at the shopping centre, we used to kill the long hours by playing our favourite game of rate-the-customers. Apparently, the host walked by one day and I declared that I wasn't quite sure whether or not I considered him cute and placed him in an "undecided" category. A week later, E met him at one of G's comedy events and recognised him as my ambivalent ratee and told G all about it. G being a boy blabbed the whole thing to the man himself.

As G narrated the story, I felt myself turning a whiter shade of pale quickly followed by the warm heat of embarrassment creeping into my cheeks. Thankfully the host was laughing about it and he soon walked away. Still, he hadn't quite forgotten about my assessment - or the lack of it - and as we left the bar later he turned to me and said, Nice to meet you Pixy. Hopefully we'll meet again soon and who knows, you might have made up your mind by then?

Huum. Guess that means I'll have to go back for another look some time soon.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Facts and Figures

335 days since I arrived into G Town last year, full of hope. The possibilities were endless.

302 days since I got dumped the first time. Suddenly, possibilities had limitations.

16 days since I got dumped the second time. By the same guy.

17 days since I washed my hands off him once and for all. About time eh?

3 - the number of people that have opted to turn their back on me. Their loss.

21 - new friendships that I have forged, including imaginary online blog buddies!

290 days since I moved into my flat and found out that I'd struck gold on the flatmate meter.

260 days since Nana passed away.

49 days since Papa followed her.

5 - beautiful surprise cards and gifts sent by loving friends to cheer me up. Bless them!

4 - plants bought to cheer myself up!

500 (and counting) - the number of times I have thanked the Heavens for the gift of family, of friends and of love.

156 days since I hugged a family member.

17 days that I got to share VBFs parents and have a Mommy around.

277 job applications sent out.

65 - days that I've worked over the past 10 months.

£700 - the amount that an ex employer owes me.

34, 20, 14 - the number of phone calls, text messages and emails that I have sent that ex employer.

2 - the number of times I have wished the pox upon him. Bastard.

14 - the number of pounds I have dropped in weight since moving here. The all yogurt diet sure helps.

7 - food dishes that I mastered cooking before I moved onto the all yogurt diet.

3 - the number of holidays I have had in the past year; India, Paris and the Netherlands. Not bad for someone who is financially broken.

10 days until I leave for England and a new opportunity.

43 days of confirmed employment. Thankfully.

365 days until my visa expires. The possibilities are endless.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Out with the Old and In with the New

With the temperatures soaring high in the early 20Cs taking a drive with Gingersnap and Colossus on Saturday seemed to be the perfect idea. Even better then that our drive took us over to the tiny little town of Catrine in North Ayrshire where we made a stop at the Catrine House ice cream parlour for some award winning traditionally churned yummy goodness!

And then on our way back we popped into a garden centre where I picked up this little beauty for my front window. I've named her Bonnie, as in banks of Loch Lomond and I have a feeling that she and I are going to be very good friends.
The shamrock hasn't been thrown out, but that's only because I haven't had the time. I'm thinking we need to start with a clean slate tomorrow. After all, Bonnie's going to need the space on the windowsill!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

That Special Effect

Over the past 10 months since moving to G Town, I seem to have developed a whole new kind of relationship with my parents. Where as before we merely coexisted in the same house with sporadic conversations, we now talked long and often about everything and anything. I thought that I had gotten to know them very well indeed. Apparently, there was still much to learn.

During yesterday's conversation with my mum I was confiding in her as to just how vulnerable I now felt, thanks to the last few months of madness. In trying to explain how I felt, I compared this feeling to my long term fear of heights. In spite of not being comfortable with heights being deathly afraid of heights, I've never let that deter me from climbing to the topmost viewing station on a tower or going on a hike up a perilous path just to be able to get an amazing view from the top. I confessed that I was now terrified of scaling those heights in everyday life. There was a job I had heard of which would be an amazing opportunity and I was afraid to even apply as the fear of failure loomed large.

My mum listened to my rant not saying a word. When I had finished, there was a little pause and she cleared her throat. Listen to me Pixy, she said. Do not let that idiotic fool of a boy stop you from anything. He has caused enough mischief and problems and you cannot allow your life to be dictated by the actions of a bloody arsehole who does not understand the meaning of common decency.

The advice was sound and I would have been suitably consoled by her words had I not been gobsmacked instead as I realised that I had just heard my mother swear for the first time ever.

Beans really should be proud of the overwhelming effect he has had on the women in my family.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Omen

A few months ago to celebrate St. Paddy's day, I bought a little shamrock plant. It was the cutest little thing and I found a nice little pot at a charity shop to plant it in. The months went on and the little shamrock grew and thrived along side the other members of my green family.

About 3 weeks ago, I noticed a change. The little bugger seemed dull and listless and there were more dead leaves than green ones on the plant. I wondered if the roots were getting a little rotten and so I tried loosening up the soil and adjusting the watering schedule. Even moved it to a new spot hoping that it would find some new mojo.

But by the time I returned from the Netherlands, it was looking very bad for Paddy. If I were a plant doctor, I would be calling in the relatives and asking them to pay their last respects. I put out an appeal on Facebook hoping that someone out there would have an idea as to how to revive a dying plant. What I didn't expect was to get the following response:

Its a sign. Let the bastard die!

Oh, how long and hard I laughed. I never considered these things, but perhaps it is a sign indeed. And so, I've left it alone on the windowsill and will allow it to figure out whether or not it wants to be a part of my life. It has one more week before it gets dumped into the bin and I move on to something else. Gerber daisies or geraniums perhaps?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Walking on Sunshine

After the initial shock of getting that nasty email which led to a really sad sad evening, a night of next to no sleep and a day trip to Amsterdam that had to be cut short due to illness, I got back to Barbie's house and as soon as I could I got online and called my parents in Canada.

An hour or so later, I hung up and felt so much better.

I told them everything. All The Crap from the past 8 months culminating in the email from the day before. For the first time there was no dodging the facts or trying to shield them from the bare bones truth. A lot of it they already knew; had pieced together from the information that I had been giving them and inferred the rest. But it felt good to just get every single thing off my chest. And to cry. Without shame, without reserve.

At the end of it, I was exhausted and my eyes were so swollen they were almost shut. But my heart was light. That night, there was no tossing and turning. From the minute my head hit the pillow to the moment the alarm went off the next morning I had slept the sleep of the dead.

Barbie and I spent the last day of my vacation at the beach. She was scheduled to work that day and had asked the manager if I could tag along. He agreed on the condition that I make myself useful by taking pictures of the day's events. Which basically meant I got to hang around a beach on a beautiful sunny day and play with a fancy camera that I would otherwise get to use only in my dreams.

My flight got in pretty late and exhausted after the long day I tumbled right in to bed.

The alarm had been set for 8:30 am, but I was awake long before that. The sun was streaming in the window and even through my half shut groggy eyes I could tell that it was going to be a spectacular day. Just the perfect day to have an outdoor job. To take people around a fascinating city and tell them stories about amazing people, places and events. I felt like I was on top of the world. The tips were awesome.

Got back to G Town and headed over to meet some friends for a Comedy Night pub quiz. They commented on how I seemed to be on a high and that's exactly what it was. A high. All day long. I cannot stop smiling or laughing (a bit awkward when you're by yourself on the bus back home) and I was literally dancing, not walking down streets.

Logic told me that this was all wrong. That I was supposed to be sad and mopey. The email signified the finality to any hope of any long term relationship that I had hoped for with Beans. And yet, that email had somehow set me free.

It is just 1:00 am. And I should be dead tired after waking up at 7:00 am, going into E City, conducting a 3.5 hr walking tour, returning and going to a night out. But I'm not. I feel that I can do it all over again, right here, right now.

I don't know what's going on. All I know is that for some absurd, magical, wonderful reason I no longer care about Beans and all the mess of the last months. She can have him. He can have her. Ironically, I found out that her name is the same as mine. Bizarre eh? But, I digress. It seems like my brain no longer wants to care about being dumped, being humiliated, being used and abused. It has gone on some sort of vacation from those bad thoughts leaving me instead with the feeling that a wide and wonderful door has opened up beyond which there is a veritable plethora of endless possibilities. Am I mixing my metaphors? I don't care. Never professed to being a writer!

I'm not quite sure if I'm done loving him. I've been trying to wrap my head around my manic feelings for some time now, but with no answers. What I do know, is that finally, I love myself more.

Readers, I feel like I'm walking on sunshine. And DAMN does it feel so good!

No, I am not and have not indulged in any sort of "treat" that Amsterdam is notorious for. Whatever high I'm on, its all self produced! Imagine if I could bottle this and mass produce!
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