Friday, 25 September 2009

Shop Girls Reunited

My old school friend, Petra, comes to work with me for two days.
I feel sick on the first morning and lie sprawled out across the grubby floor of the stockroom, until a customer has a problem and I have to come back down again.
I perk up after that and it’s like the good old days.
Because working with Petra is so much better than working alone.
When I work alone, I sense the approaching clutches of insanity.
With Petra, we have fun whilst being productive.
We drink hot cups of tea while googling her engagement ring.
Well, her boyfriend will need help choosing one some day and it’s good to be prepared.
She doesn’t find her dream ring but I come across a beauty for £35,000.
A customer comes in stopping me from clicking ‘buy it now!’
He’s short and red-faced and talks like he’s in a hurry.
“Plain lights, you can’t get them anymore.”
I point at a simple glass dish suspension.
“What about that?”
“No, I need it flush.”
“You can get flush ones anywhere,” I say
“Yes, well, I found some after a while but now I need three other lights."
“But you can’t get plain lights anywhere.”
He points at a shelf of spotlights.
“Like those, you can’t get them anymore.”
“They’re there.”
“You can’t get them in halogen.”
“They are halogen.”
“Are they?” He looks momentarily taken aback. “But I mean them but different. Without that bit.”
“Without the ceiling plate? You need that to fix it up.”
“I want ones without it. Not even the architectural people do it.”
Because they don’t exist?
“If you’ve got your state of the art sofa,” he continues, “and your state of the art telly then you don’t want all this.”
And he waves a dismissive hand at all our sparking crystal.
“Some people do. It’s nice to be a bit eclectic,” I say, feeling defensive.
“Not the people I’m talking about.”
“Smart telly, smart sofa and spotlights, it sounds a bit," I can't stop myself, "well, a bit boring.”
“Yeah but then throw in your abstract painting.”
And you get your very own office to live in.
“But you can’t get plain lights anymore,” he says, shaking his head.
“What about recessed lights?” I say.
But I’m not sure he wants his search to come to an end, ever.
“Good luck,” I say, as he leaves.
Petra and I clean chandeliers, taking it in turns to wash batches of crystal in the kitchen upstairs.
One of the lights is made up entirely of huge crystal balls.
They project glittering rainbows as we lay them out over the counter.
We’ve been around this shop since we were little but we still get excited about switching on a newly cleaned chandelier.
Work and play; the balance is so much better with a fellow Shop Girl.
At the end of the day I stick my head under the tap until my hair is soaked through. It’s been a fluffy mess for too long now.
I sit on a stool and Petra lays down newspaper around me.
“How much?”
I suggest an inch, she suggests four.
After she’s cut my hair, we pull down the shop shutters and have a beer on the roof.
Two great shopgirling days.
I’ll miss her tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

miss you too darling xxxxx lovely

Maria said...

AWWWWWW xxx petra! ;)