Sunday 30 May 2010

The Winning Stories

Thank you all for entering the first Shop Girl Competition. Here are the 5 winning ‘shop’ stories, including a restaurant and call centre story for good measure. Writers, your copy of Shop Girl Diaries will shortly be in the post! Meanwhile, happy reading.

Story 1

By Angela Topping, who lives in a house full of books and spends her days writing poetry when not distracted by writing which pays the bills.

My father-in-law, 88 today, who now has dementia, still remembers going into a record shop to ask for 'Adam Faith's latest'. On requesting this, he was somewhat nonplussed to be answered by a question 'What do you want?' He repeated his request and the shop assistant repeated the question. Eventually Tom gave up and asked for a different record. He never did get Adam Faith's latest, titled 'What do you want' and continuing if ya don't want money/ what do ya want if ya don't want love/ say what ya want and I'll give it you darlin'wish you wanted my love, baby!' Wonder if anyone else had problems buying this?

Story 2

By Girl Afraid :The singer of an all female Smiths tribute band 'Girl Afraid.' Lover of vintage ukuleles, hats and of course Morrissey.

"I needed a job and then I got a job and heaven knows I'm miserable now."

I can’t help thinking Morrissey wrote that after spending some time in a call center.

My day today started with a twenty minute pitch on the wonders of the credit card.
The chap I was trying to sell it too, who had seemed at first quite interested, started laughing.

“Don’t need one of em” He said.

“Can I ask why not?” I said in my best salesperson voice.

“Cos I’m drunk and in a wheelchair” He cackled and then hung up.

I wasn’t quite sure which of these two things didn’t allow him to have a credit card. My boss certainly didn’t think this was a good enough excuse either. Her general policy is ‘the inebriated need credit cards too’. As punishment she made me stand up until I made a sale. I felt like I was in year three, standing on a chair with my hands on my head after being caught covering my arms in PVA glue so I could let it dry and peel it off.

The rest of the day didn’t go much better. The next guy who answered started yelling at me.

“Why don’t you get a real fucking job?” He spat down the receiver.

I wanted to tell him this was the best I could do with a music degree in a recession but I didn’t and after he hung up I ticked the call back later button.
To get me through the rest of the day I made lists. I started with the top three Smiths albums.

1) The sound of The Smiths
2) The best of The Smiths
3) Singles The Smiths

But of course this is cheating.

I wonder why The Smiths have so many albums with the same songs on them? Maybe it was too make sure they made enough money so they would never have to get proper jobs again. Can’t say I blame them.

Story 3

By Bob Keim, Son of a nuclear physicist who used his love of math to become a Chartered Accountant, yet succumbed to his adrenaline addiction and morphed into a motorcycle racer and later a sea captain.

For mental exercise, my Dad taught us to add up the ticket at restaurants. His theory was that people good at math were unlikely to be waiters. The number of incorrect guest checks seemed to support his beliefs. So, of course sitting quietly at the dinner table waiting for Dad to finish double checking the ticket for the first 21 years of my life, rubbed off on me.

We went skiing in Colorado and found a nice place for breakfast. The ticket was added incorrectly, so I politely asked the cashier to triple check my double checking. Reluctantly, she agreed and I saved 79 pennies.

The next day, the ticket was not added correctly either. The same cashier was not as pleased to add that one up as the day before. But, again, I didn't have to pay the $1.25 stupid tax after she double checked the ticket.

The 3rd day, the ticket was wrong again! But this time it was in my favor by about 50 cents. I got to the cashier and in a very rude tone, she announced, "I will NOT re-add your ticket again today!" I smiled and said, "OK, if you insist."

Story 4

'Louboutin's with a Side of Potato' - By Victoria Fotios, who was Online Poet of the Year 2008 and Sunday Morning Spiders, published by Neopoiesis is her first poetry collection. She is also a collector of shoes, and when we say “collector” we mean “addict purchasing well beyond means”

I finally found the Christian Louboutin shop post lunch in the NYC Meat Packing district. This was it, I thought, finally I get my red soles. I am forty years old and the time has come for me to take on the world in the ultimate celebrity shoes. It was as I had feared, the shop staff were better dressed and groomed that I could ever manage after 5 hours of prinking.

I gingerly put my handbag down on the gilded, red velvet love seat to avoid a “bag in the china shop” situation, moved slowly towards the rows and rows of gloriously silly shoes.

I had engaged the attention of the black cashmere shod sales chap and he was patiently trying to get me to settle on a pair.

“What do you think of these?” I, twirling like a 6 year old.

“Fabulous.” he murmured,

“They are a little tight across the instep.” I would protest, dancing in the mirror

“Perhaps a 40.” he suggested, sweeping off into the curtained section behind the counter.

I had settled upon some impossibly black, patent, 5 inch peep toes and was now, I am ashamed to admit, sashaying.

“Fabulous.” uttered Cashmere for the umpteenth time

But the truth was we had hit a problem, if the shoe was long enough for me, then it was too narrow; wide enough and it was too long.

I turned to Cashmere,

“It’s my feet isn’t it, they are too wide. Is it possible, do you think, that my feet are the wrong shape for Christian Louboutin’s?”

A ghost of a smile moved across Cashmere’s lips, “Not possible, we can also fit them for you, chemically, so that they are a perfect match to your feet.”

So there it was; in order for us to get out of this with any shoes or dignity, said shoes would have to be “fitted”... translation, “stretched”.

“My Grandma used to do that with potatoes overnight; you don’t use potatoes do you?”

The shop fell silent and I couldn’t quite believe I had shared this snippet of 1970’s Lancastrian shoe stretching practice. Then the impossible happened, a genuine grin spread across Cashmere’s face.

“No, but perhaps it is something we could consider, very organic”

The deal was done; we had bonded over Louboutin’s and potatoes. Twenty minutes on, clutching an enormous brown bag containing the holy shoes, my soul was finally red.

Story 5

By Tracy Sweeney, A ‘P.A’. who has a passion for crystals, works in the City and lives in the country – has the best of both worlds!!

Funnily enough, this happened in your shop, Emily. Yep, the one and only chandelier (‘n’ stuff) shop – a few years back. I used to pop in there regularly to buy crystals from your mum – and, of course, stop for the routine chit chat, which always went hand in hand with the purchase.

It was during my lunch hour and I remember distinctly that as I entered the shop, the window cleaner was just finishing up and the windows were looking fantastic! I even made the comment to your mum of what a great job he had done.

I had my chat, bought my crystals and said my farewells, leaving your mum to deal with an influx of customers who had just entered the shop.

I smiled politely as I passed them on my way out…….

And then, BOOM!

I missed the door and walked straight into the newly cleaned, floor to ceiling window.

I ricocheted off it, as everyone screamed – they thought a bomb had gone off!

As I shakily turned to let everyone know that it was only my head and not, in fact, a bomb I noticed the shop had fallen silent and every eye was on me so, with a big beaming smile, I said ‘ Wow, your window is so crystal clear it’s as if nothing is there!’ and made a quick exit!

It must have made an impact on your mum at the time because when I returned, a few months later, the first thing she asked about was my head!

I hope you enjoyed reading these fab stories. It was great to hear from you!


Angela Topping said...

Really enjoyed reading these Emily, and thanks again for choosing mine. Can't wait to read your book. This was a really fun competition.

Shop Girl said...

Thanks for sending it in. A copy of my book is in a jiffy bag with your name on it Angela - so getting closer! Glad you enjoyed the read.

Unknown said...

These are great Emily, the one set in a call centre was BRILLIANT, I can really identify with it It was funny and true.

Bob Keim said...

Instead of closing the shop, you should sell it. "Chandelier shop for sale, characters and stories included at no additional price."

Too funny, Tracy.