Tuesday, 17 January 2012

You Can Keep Your Capitalism.

With the exception of Third World Country sweat shops. Obviously. Working on Boxing Day must be one of the most soul destroying jobs on earth. By the time Christmas night arrived I was already agitated and unable to relax because of the prospect of getting up so early. Downton Abbey was taped for me and I went to bed well before any other members of my family. The following morning as the alarm sounded at 4.45am, Hubby gave me a ‘There, there’ tap on my bottom as I hauled my body from under my gorgeously warm duvet, then mumbling “See you later”, he rolled over and went back to snoring. I sighed as I pulled my socks on in the dark. This really was the pits.
It’s not as if I were a doctor or nurse or indeed anyone with a worthwhile job with the satisfaction of knowing one was making a difference to someone’s life. Whereas I? I was just going off to work in a shop to take more money off senseless people who had probably spent more than enough already recently.
I tiptoed downstairs in the dark and was surprised to stand in something warm and squidgy. I grappled for the light, let my eyes adjust, looked down and then groaned in disgust. The dog hung his head in shame. Poor sod. It wasn’t his fault. The rather rhythmic and frequent farting the night before should have been a warning of things to come. I told Hubby not to give him the leftovers. The dog’s tummy is only used to dry dog food; it is no wonder then that it found turkey, sprouts and Christmas Pudding intolerable. Hell, most of the humans in the house were sitting in their own cloud of noxious fumes. There was no hope for the dog. I peeled off my sock and walked on my heels into the kitchen, lifted the lid on the Addis bin and chucked the sock inside it. Then I gave the dog a jolly big cuddle, just to let him know there were no hard feelings and then went about cleaning the carpet and my foot. Ten minutes later, after scrubbing with kitchen paper, Oust and Fabreze, both carpet and foot were shiny, clean and sweet smelling and there was no evidence to suggest that my dog had suffered chronic, Christmas incontinence.
I removed a fresh pair of socks from the tumble dryer. That’s another thing. Having to put a wash on on Christmas day was not very festive, but without which I wouldn’t have had a polyester uniform to wear to work. I then put a layer of cling film over a mug of tea, a slice of toast into an envelope of kitchen paper and got into the car; two minutes later and I was parked on the Torpoint ferry feeling very sorry for myself indeed.
If I was feeling sorry for myself though, God alone knows how the little children who were being dragged around Drake Circus shopping mall at 6am were feeling. It was all I could do to stop myself from going up to their mothers’ and demanding to know what on earth they were thinking. The children I saw ranged from babes in arms, to toddlers in pushchairs to five year olds, who, with eyes as big as saucers as it was so early and I’d like to think after an exciting day the day before, were being dragged, bottom lip quivering, by the arm by fierce mothers, hell bent on acquiring a bloody bargain.
I was appalled. How on earth was I going to do my job? How on earth was I going to give excellent customer service when I resented each and every customer? I can vividly remember how shocked I was when we lived in America and the whole huge business of being America never seemed to pause for an instant. The shops never shut, the tv never closed down, transport kept chugging, schools barely took a break. I remember seeing Tigger being killed in a parade at Disney World and someone else getting into his costume and the show just going on. I remember driving past a bank open for business on Good Friday and thinking to myself, ‘It won’t be long before it’s the same at home’. Mark my words, I’ll bet within a decade the shops will be open here on Christmas Day.
Nothing could have prepared me for the number of people who came through our shop doors on Boxing Day though. Well, they didn’t come in, they ran. And piled their trolleys high as if Dale Winton were lashing them in a frenzied, festive edition of Supermarket Sweep. It was, quite honestly, rather unnerving. People seemed to have a look in their eye that suggested they were unhinged. One woman emptied two large trolleys onto my counter whilst beside her, her little girl with big puffy eyes stared up at me. In one hand was brand new, shiny, Barbie doll, in the other, a family sized tube of pink Smarties. Most of the pink colouring decorated her face. She looked a very sorry little mite. She should have been in her bed in her new pyjamas, waiting to get up soon to play with undoubtedly the very expensive presents that she’d unwrapped only the day before.
Behind me a battle broke out over a beige blouse. Two women tore over it. It was a situation only King Soloman could have handled. “Someone is going to get hurt”, said one bystander rather prophetically. I returned home to the news that in London, a young man had been stabbed to death over a trainer.
At the staff briefing today the manager told us that trading on Boxing Day was a huge commercial success and that they’ll be doing it again next year. They can fill their boots. I only have two shifts left. I’ll raise a glass to that. Happy 2012!

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