Everything is broken in the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop. Everything. This is a typical day. I’m not even joking:
The front door
The door is not my friend: the lock jams and the door itself sticks. Consequently, I have to play, ‘push-me-pull-you,’ with increasing vigour - and temper - whilst hunched over the doorway like the world’s crappiest lock-picker for a five full minutes every morning. That’s every morning; for months. This does not make me happy.
The coffee machine
I turn the coffee machine on and it begins to leak. I put a dinner plate underneath to catch the drips. The machine has been leaking for, perhaps, three months now. Apparently getting an engineer to fix the thing is a ridiculously unthinkable idea (see also: Servicing/ behaving like a mature, responsible shop owner), so it just gets worse, day by day. The plate is full after twenty minutes. It is extremely important I remember to empty the plate in a timely manner, otherwise the overflow will rain down onto the OOF Shop Plug-Extension-Lead Modern Art Installation, which TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) has positioned, rather astoundingly, underneath the coffee machine.
|The OOF Shop Plug-Extension-Lead-Modern-Art-Installation.
Under the coffee machine.
Photo: Shop Girl Tales
This morning, the coffee machine springs two leaks instead of the usual one. Water pools all over the counter. I manage to shove a second plate underneath the newcomer leak, and then pointlessly write yet another doomed message to TBE in the message book. Then I take the liberty of swearing liberally to myself.
The CD player
Playing the CD player is like playing the lottery: I tell myself there is a chance it will turn out well, but I know it probably won’t. That’s because the CD player is a pile of shit and, for the last year, (a whole, long year), has proceeded to skip, jump and stutter its way through most of the music I’ve tried to play.
I press the, ‘Play’ button.
The murder-inducing sound of alien plink-plonks and mournful whale moaning fills the air. TBE still hasn’t got round to paying the public performance rights fee yet, so we’re only allowed to play royalty free music. The sounds sets my teeth on edge. I try to ignore it and think only happy thoughts. Happy thoughts.
The CD player jumps.
I put another CD in. It jumps again. I swear at it, then ignore it. It continues jumping throughout the morning.
I try to change a particularly rough looking mannequin but because she only balances on one leg she refuses to cooperate and instead acts like a drunken teenager out on the razz in a middle England market town. Also, her arm is falling off, so she repeatedly whacks me around the head with her errant hand.
Then the CD player stops playing altogether.
I lash the mannequin to the nearest clothes rail using cheap shit-brown string (which is, by the way, the TBE approved, official OOF shop method), and tackle the CD player. After ten unsuccessful minutes I give up and walk away.
It starts playing.
I spend several tortuous hours alone with my ears bathed in the excruciating other-worldly racket, which is clearly designed to slowly but definitely turn me into a serial killer, when at last a customer walks in. The CD player immediately stops working
The customer and I are suddenly stranded together in thick, claustrophobic silence, which neither of us react well to. I swear a little too loudly and pretend to clean the leaking coffee machine with a stuffed dog, she feigns looking around whilst backtracking awkwardly towards the entrance, where she struggles for several minutes with the sticky door before finally wrenching it open and running away.
|Original picture: fotshot, Pixabay
Storage and display
I attempt to play, ‘Clothes-Jenga’ by trying to hang some clothes on the ‘holding rail’ in the back. The ‘holding rail’ is a very tall ladder leaning unsecured against the wall and already ridiculously overloaded with clothes, hangers and bags full of crap. My attempt to play Clothes-Jenga fails: the ladder starts to slide alarmingly down the wall.
|Photo: Cory Doctorow, Wikimedia
I struggle to push it back and get deluged with an avalanche of falling clothes and spiky hangers. I swear very loudly, just as a customer bursts violently into the shop. Evidently, she couldn’t get the sticky door open at first, so she gave it one last, big push, and succeeded in both opening the door and smashing it into the display TBE insists on positioning directly behind the door. The display topples over. I smile and pick it up. She isn’t the first. She won’t be the last.
The CD appears to have finished its run. I return to the desk and press play on the CD player. Nothing happens. Then I notice the sales book is sitting in a pile of water. I swear, and check to see if the customer heard me. She hasn’t, she is too busy trying to reinstate the trussed up mannequin, which has broken free of her repressive ties, and is lunging menacingly over the customer, who is wailing, “I only wanted to see the scarf a bit better!”
I rescue the customer; apologise, and explain the mannequin will be fixed soon, which is a lie. She nods nervously and legs it.
The CD player starts working again.
Lights timer switch
At closing time I tackle the timer switch. This is because I am under strict instructions to override the timer, every night, in order to keep the lights on for a few hours, and have them turn off later in the evening.
Now, I know what you’re thinking; why override a timer when you want the timer to do the job of a timer? Why not just leave it? But don’t forget, this shop belongs to TBE, and TBE can’t resist fiddling the fuck out of anything and everything she lays her hands on. She just can’t leave anything alone.
So, I have to follow The TBE Procedure, which basically involves interfering with little plastic knobs on the timer face until it clicks, but doesn’t turn the lights off. And this is how I’m supposed to leave it; with the lights on (presumably temporarily, but I’m not here in a few hours, so who knows?).
I fiddle with the knobs until it clicks but the lights are still on.
I let go and walk off.
The lights go out straight away.
I go back and fiddle with the knobs until the lights come on again. But I’ve ‘unset’ the knobs.
So I fiddle some more until it clicks again and the lights are still on. I have no idea what I’m doing.
I let go and walk away.
The lights go out.
I go back to the sodding timer and try again….
This goes on for several more attempts until it finally seems to hold, by which point my back is screaming (the timer switch is set low down and helpfully hidden behind a mannequin. Not the legless one, another one), and I’ve managed to bump into most of the displays round the room during the many episodes of sudden darkness.
But it’s done. All I have to do now is open the shop door, lock it behind me and bugger off.