Friday, 23 December 2016

Christmas in retail: Things that could only happen in the Out Of Favour shop (and a few that happened somewhere else)

The Annual Dying of Boredom Ritual (aka. Lantern Parade Day, Part One)
It’s the day of the kids’ lantern parade; a charming tradition where we all pretend the kids have made the lanterns whilst knowing that the parents have made every inch of their exactly-to-scale tissue paper version of The Millennium Falcon, or Elsa and Olaf, or whatever, in a tooth and nail, fight-to-the death game of one-upmanship with all the other parents in the town. Consequently the shop is like a morgue because they’re all touching up their (sorry, their kid’s) masterpieces at home. It’s empty. Except for MAMAA (aka Middle Aged Man Always Around) Mr SS, who spends two hours drinking green tea and recounting the weekly sales from his market stall: how many, how much, who to. Inside my head I alternate between vegetation and apoplectic rage. The Christmas love begins..…

Photo: MarinaRossi, Pixabay

The Traditional OOF Shop Furniture Fight (aka Lantern Parade Day, Part Two)
The joyous annual tradition of trying to wrestle a room’s worth of furniture (i.e. the stuff on display outside the OOF shop) into a tiny space suddenly full immovable zombie people. They’re not shoppers, they’re waiting for the parade.  I explain we’re closing by wacking them about the knees repeatedly with a 6ft church bench, a wooden washstand and a life-size Father Christmas. They glare at me and refuse to move.  We’re all feeling the Christmas spirit.

Impersonating a 19th Century Cockney Barrow Boy (aka Lantern Parade Day, Part Three)
Every year TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) forces me to close the OOF shop early, set up an illegal pop-up stall, turn into a character from Oliver Twist, and flog plastic flashing tat by bawling at passing parents until they give in and buy their kids some crap wand or other garish shit. I then have to pack up and run away before the crap stops flashing and the kids start screaming.

Scaring kids shitless with Father Christmas
TBE didn’t secure the life-size Father Christmas outside the shop properly (naturally). Consequently he got knocked over, smashed his face and now looks like an angry disfigured gargoyle designed to give kids nightmares rather than presents. Matters weren’t helped by the overuse of super glue by a zealous part-timer with more enthusiasm than skill.

TBE’s faultless Christmas planning, Part One
TBE was given a beautiful advent calendar to sell in the OOF shop; a beautifully unique, handmade advent calendar just perfect for the usual OOF shop customer. TBE passed it on to me - In the second week in December. 

It didn’t sell.

TBE’s faultless Christmas planning, Part Two
It’s always good to capitalize on the Christmas shopping phenomenon by making one’s shop as festive as possible as early as possible. This includes the music. And, in keeping with this, I was given a festive CD to play; 

on 20th December.

Come to think of it, this is no bad thing. It’s already started to jump and stutter and set my teeth on edge. If I had to listen to it for any longer I’d probably strangle someone with their own tinsel and run naked down the street screaming obscenities about Michael Buble  (Come on; we’ve all done it).

MAMAA’s homemade booze
MAMAA Hep Cat Pensioner comes in with his dodgy looking liquid in an unmarked bottle (OK, that sounds worse than I meant it to….):
Hep Cat: Have some of this. It’ll put hairs on your chest.
Me: No, I’m working.
Hep Cat: Go on, just a sip.
Me: No, I’m working.
Hep Cat: Oh go on, just a little sip. It’s good stuff.
Me: No, I’m working.
Hep Cat: Go on, just for me.
Me: OK, just a little sip……
Hep Cat: That’s not enough! Have a really big gulp.
Me: No………..
Etc etc – for about twenty minutes….

It was all very different a long time ago in a shop far far away.......

Fear and Loathing in the fresh food aisle
I used to work in a department store. One Christmas Eve I manned one of the tills lined up across the centre of the store. To the front of me were the glass doors that opened onto the high street. Every inch of glass was covered with faces and bodies, squashed and waiting for opening time. Behind me were the glass doors that opened onto the mall. Faces and bodies were squashed all along there too. When the doors were opened the two crowds ran towards each other like a herd of love-starved romantics all desperate to be together.

And then they met.

Romantic it was not. More like The Charge of the Light Brigade. This was war.

At one point a woman got carried past my till totally spark out, shop assistants grappling at her limp head, arms and feet in a bid to not drop her. An unfortunate soldier. I think she was taken to the casualty tent away from the Front Line; next to the Manager's office and the staff toilet.

And then there was Cream Rage.

Apparently, the de rigueur way to settle an argument that features the last pot of cream and two people who both claim they saw it first, is for one claimant to grab the pot, rip it open and pour it over the head of the second claimant. Problem solved. Sort of.

Anyway, enough of these musings. I'm off for the holidays now. I've left a dead mackerel down the back of the till and a confetti bomb full of my notes on how to Hang The Bloody Hangers The Right Way Round, so the OOF shop should be all set for the holiday period.

Have a lovely Christmas, I'll see you on the other side. Mwah!

Picture: Alex80, Pixabay

1 comment:

  1. Sugar Plum Faerie25 December 2016 at 12:23

    What shenanigans! Happy Christmas!