Once of twice a week, I get on the bus to a neighbouring town, and spend a few hours as a productive member of society. My place of work is a rather run-down little H&M store, and I tend to spend my working time with the same five or six members of the staff.
I have often considered how different the mentality is at that place, as opposed to University. For one, it seems like school is a bubble where nothing of the outside world seem to reach. It’s off in its own little plane of reality with few touching points to this grimy little store at the end of a shopping district in that neighbouring town.
My colleagues span the generations and ethic gaps. There’s a Sikh man who comes in with a knife in his belt. There are two girls who are fast and best friends forever, and who mostly spend time sorting the shelves while chatting with each other – not so much with us. There’s me, the token gay guy. And there’s the shift leader who is two years older than me, but who pretends that he is two generations wiser.
It’s funny because at the moment our shifts are over, we drift apart into these strangers who hurry back home. No lingering to get to know each other. No after hours pub visits. It seems like all we’re interested in is to go to work, do our shift, and then get out. We’ll play nice during the shift, but then forget each other at the end of it. Is this how working life is?
My parents always talk about how they like their jobs, their colleagues, their challenges and tasks. I can’t say I’ve been very challenged yet – if you discount the two days it took for me to learn the cash register. Operations took like five minutes to learn; recovering from mistakes and faulty inputs is what took the most time. A faulty price on an item? I must know how to correct that. Otherwise, it’s just to hold the price tag up to the scanner, and let the machine read the price and add up the total without my intervention.
Mark too can tell about things one of his work mates have done, the ones from his brick-laying work. Yes, he does that too a couple of days a week. He seems to have a closer work relationship with his colleagues than I do. Maybe I haven’t really tried? I tend to be the quiet one who sit on the fringe and observe the goings on. Maybe I too could find some common ground with my colleagues if I asked them questions and took the first step to talk to them.
Then again, what is most interesting about the job is not the colleagues, or the work, but the people who come inside. I find that I enjoy dealing with them far more than I enjoy the real work. Though, I still haven’t thought of a polite way to discourage say a woman from buying a too tight a pair of pants which will give her a bad case of camel toes, or a man who insists on a too tight a t-shirt which will squish his pectoral muscles into a set of boobs.