Jobs as a teenager are among the most difficult life lessons we ever learn. Here we are, as young adults who are used to being handed everything; suddenly thrust behind a cash register and expected to not be utterly self absorbed about it. It really is an awful rite of passage. Those of us that make it through take the lessons from those first jobs to our second, third, and so on. Those of us that don’t just make jokes about it.
My first job was working at Carlton Cards at the Florida Mall. It was a greeting card store whose only claim was that we were the biggest competitor to Hallmark…in the mall. Not the company. We would sell greeting cards, knick-knacks and those books you find on your grandparents coffee table. I was placed on the closing crew and tasked with operating a cash register older than I was and making sure the customers did not murder one another.
This is not an over exaggeration.
I never realized until working at a greeting card store just how awful another human being can be while at the same time, trying to be thoughtful by getting someone a ‘Get Well Soon’ card. For example, I had to work Easter and while I was ringing customers up as quickly as I could, I kept hearing a shrill voice screaming at me. At first, I thought she was a banshee; letting me know that my time upon this Earth was soon to end, but it turned out that it was an aged woman who really wanted me to hurry so she could get her Precious Moments figurine.
I smiled and waved. In teenage circles, this is how we acknowledge one anothers presence. I figured that this is how it worked in her…I don’t know, bridge club? But anyways, she took offense to either the smile or the wave or just decided she wanted to try and absorb my life force. I hear one more brittle battle cry and glance over just long enough to see a porcelain duck shatter against the side of my head. I have no idea what happened to the woman but I like to believe she still prowls the hidden corridors of that mall, occasionally venturing out to the food court when she hungers.