Working Late

Christmas is coming–I stayed an hour and a half late at work tonight to finish engraving. 

Tales from Retail

I love my job. I do. It’s so weird. Well, it feels like it should be weird. I guess it isn’t. I personalize gifts, so I make even more people happy than I did when I worked in pizza. Although few as happy as kids when they answer the door to a pizza driver. That’s fulfilling.

I have some awesome customers. Today I got a hug from a girl who ordered a watch for her boyfriend. She loved it. The other day I got a hug and a kiss on the cheek from a woman for whom I did three sets of dog tags and a flask. I guess cheek-kissing strangers is what they do in Oklahoma? I was only six when we moved away, so I don’t recall that being a thing.

I do have some slow customers as well, but the worst are the people passing by or just looking. If I had a nickel for every person who asked directions around my little-ass mall I wouldn’t need a raise. I wish I could put up a sign.

But here are some recent gems:

  • Do y’all do tattoos here? No. No, we do not. And frankly, dude, if you’re that hip to getting tattoos from a mall kiosk with no autoclave in sight, I don’t really want to get near you.
  • What’s an 8×10 album? There’s no way to answer this question without sounding like an asshole. No way.
  • I was calling to inquire… Okay, this was on the phone, but still. There’s no need for all that. You’re not calling about a job opening, you’re asking if we do engraving. Just ask. By the time you’re done stumbling over that intro, I could have already answered your question and gone back to what I was doing.
  • The Coach House Gifts guy. People stop all the time to ask where a store is, if a certain store is in the mall, if there’s a store that sells whatever item they’re looking for. But this guy. He asked where Coach House Gifts is. I told him they closed a few years ago, because they did. He showed me his smartphone, with the address of the mall and the phone number to the store. I reiterated that they closed. He went to go look because he’s at the right address. A few minutes later, he stopped and asked again. They’re still closed. I told him to go look at the map by the entrance, because it’s not on there. He wandered off again. A few minutes later, he stopped and asked again. This time he added that their phone’s disconnected. That’s because they’re closed, dude. Closed forever. He got mad and went to continue the search. Now, I don’t mind pointing left or right, mostly left, toward the bathrooms, but if a store ain’t here, it ain’t here. No amount of asking will change that. I also don’t answer to throat-clearings or hey.
  • The klutz. Some people are clumsy, it’s true. This was a first, though. A guy walked into our five-foot-tall easel sign. It’s a big ole sign with a bright picture on it. I have no idea how he missed it, but he walked into it hard enough to knock it over, and kept going without a word. I picked it up and thanked him. His response? It just fell.
  • The drooler. A grown man and his friend were eyeballing the knives in the glass case, and he drooled right on it. Now, I have nothing against drooling when you can’t help it. That’s fine. I don’t care. Every day I work I see people with disabilities walking around with their caretakers. Some of them drool. But this guy immediately sucked the rest of the saliva back into his mouth and wiped his chin, and his buddy laughed at him. Then the two of them hurried off. So I’m guessing he’s not normally a drooler. But come on, man, you could have swiped off the case while you were wiping your face on your sleeve.
  • The ones who think I’m furniture. When I ask how are you doing today, I mean it. If you’re having a shit day, I’ll listen and be nice to you. If you’re having the greatest day of your life, I’ll high five you. But when I ask, please answer. It’s great that you’re just looking, but that’s not what I asked. I ignore people who do this. Not that they notice.
  • The high-fiver. He was a gem. Just a couple of teenage boys walking up and down the mall, daring each other to attempt to high-five strangers. Of course I high-fived him!

It is fun, though, even with all this. Except for the people who think that twenty minutes is too long to wait.

Top Nine Most Enjoyable Items to Engrave

  Today it just came together what to post–I was reading Stephanie’s list while engraving a wheat beer glass, and I realized that I’ve only whined about red wine glasses. I haven’t told you about all the fun things I get to engrave. It’s a challenge to prioritize them, so this list isn’t in any special order. 

  1. Tall glass vase. It’s a nice flat piece of glass, and glass just looks so pretty engraved. I like being able to fit a lot on there, with plenty of room to individualize the message. 
  2. Round keepsake box. The same premise applies, but with smaller real estate. It’s plain, with no filigree or crystals to distract from a nicely placed message. 
  3. Glass water bottle. These have a tall, narrow strip of engraving space on each side, in gaps in the silicone sleeve. I’ve only done a handful, but they look amazing. 
  4. Pocket watches. They’re fun. And require attention to detail. Stem up or stem right? Front or back? Anything on the box? 
  5. Ceramic mugs. These require color be added to the engraving, since it’s broken the integrity of the glaze. Also look super good when done right. 
  6. Where I’m not supposed to. I do understand that this makes it harder on employees who aren’t brave enough to figure out how to hold an oddly shaped item or adventurous enough to take a risk, but it’s pretty cool to make something one-of-a-kind. 
  7. Rectangular filigree keepsake box. This goes along with #6, but come on! It has four flat sides that are simply begging for engraving. Just on the top is for squares. 
  8. Wedding sets. Flutes or server sets or both, I’m tickled to engrave something a happy couple will treasure until one of them smashes it to bits in a fit of pique. 
  9. Zippos. They’re easy, they’re small, but they have so much room for personalization. I’ve never done two exactly the same. 

This was a fun list to write! I wandered around and weighed the merits of different items to decide on my favorites. I could probably add a few more items to the list, but nine was the number Ian chose from my arbitrarily selected range of 5-12. Perhaps I’ll do another. 


I’ve always hated engraving red wine glasses. Their bulbous shape is not easy to adjust the engraver to. 

But worse than that are the stemless reds. Hopefully this time’s the charm, and I can go home. 

More Work Stuff

The drama never ends, y’all!

Today was the manager’s day off. I worked 845 to 6 and agreed to take phone calls for assistance from the other part-timer, who closed tonight. She’s been with us a year. She started last holiday season. 

She called me fifteen times by 930, when I agreed to go up there and engrave three pens that no one else seemed to be able to do. 

They were trying to put two lines on them. You can’t do that; you can only hold a pen with one set of work holders, and due to the narrow cylindrical nature of pens, you can only engrave one line. The customer had selected pens that only had one engraving area and a design on the rest of the pen. One line was the absolute limit. 

She ended up getting a refund. 

The closer refused to complete the day’s engraving, so I’ll be at work bright and early tomorrow to finish up. 

I did more than twice the work on my single-coverage shift than three of them did in four hours. 

I think the district manager had better make me a pretty good offer for a promotion, when he gets around to it after Christmas. 

Just argh. 

Adventures in Retail

So remember when I was a seasonal engraver in 2012? And how I had a blast? I went back for the 2013 Christmas season, and, conveniently enough, after I quit my other job, they needed someone to stay on after the holidays. Yay!

It’s so funny to think of shy little old me as a salesperson. It’s kind of like when I first started delivering pizzas. I used to be too shy to even order pizza on the phone. Look at me now! I haven’t made my sales goals every single day I worked, but I’ve made my weekly goals, so it evens out.

Of course, I still get to do engraving, which is the best part. I’ve engraved two marriage proposals in the past month. How cool is that?

It is a huge change from seasonal, though. There’s no shift overlap, so I’m almost always there by myself. Most of my time is spent dusting or twiddling my thumbs. The mall is nothing like it used to be.

It’s still fun, though. Almost my entire work history is food service and healthcare, so there are some glaring differences, like sales. A year of sales here is less than two months of pizza sales–and a day’s goal is less than an hour, most days.

And there’s wandering through the deserted mall when it’s time to go.

It’s much nicer without all the people. And I’m home by 930!