Inside the shop

Can you show me a cocktail dress? I need one for my wife. Sure, I say, right this way. I show him a plain, sleeveless dress. No, something less lesbian, he says. I chuckle and point out another dress. This might work; I’ll have to go get her.
He never came back. It is very rare for customers to come back once they’ve left the store, even if they say they will. So this is my job. I greet strangers, quietly shouting the hated phrase, hi, how are you? Or can I help you find anything today? Or what size are you looking for? Or let me check in the back for you to see if we have any more. Blah blah blah. Sometimes I hate greeting them. I want to leave them alone. Give them their privacy so they can decide on their own. Before this job, I was always annoyed when sales people said hello. And now it is my job to annoy people. But I have to say that there are some who smile back and ask me how I am. They even ask for my opinion and allow me to show them what we have in the store. I find interesting people. I meet women who like a dress but don’t buy it because their boyfriends don’t approve. I meet women who try 10 different things and leave the store empty handed. I meet women who let me pick everything out for them. I meet angry people who ignore me when I say hello and people who politely smile but walk away immediately. It’s a strange world, the world of buyers. People are fascinating. They have methods. Some are pickier than others. They find a little spot on a pair of pants and refuse to buy it. But I love my job. I love being helpful. I like opening the fitting room doors, getting to know my customers, their habits, their likes and dislikes. Today I was ringing up a family of four from Montréal. They spoke French and I had to ask if they came from France. No, we’re from Canada, the dad says. I’ve been to Toronto I say. I love French, I add. Do you speak Spanish? Well, I’m taking it as a class, I say. Spanish and French are very close, the dad says. Yes, I know. I’m excited by this family because they speak perfect French and they remind me of my good times in Europe. I wish them a good day and watch them leave.
Have a nice day, I dutifully say and smile. I don’t think I’ve ever had to smile so much in one day.

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