For me, winter break wasn't just a welcome relief from daily 9 AM classes and late nights studying the proper conjugation of French verbs--it was also an opportunity to make some extra money. Outside of writing for this blog and the Coyote, all the other stuff I'm involved in on campus has been strictly on a non-paying, volunteer basis. And as fun as it is taking pictures at Campus Ministries events, I couldn't pay for Christmas gifts with happy feelings and nifty portraits. So, just as I had during the summer, I spent quite a bit of time working at Marshalls, where I took my place behind our brand new cash registers to brave the rush of holiday shoppers determined to get the very best prices, even if they had to completely trash the store to do it.
Having worked a few winter seasons at Marshalls now, I've become accustomed to the bargain hunting mobs. The Christmas season is easily the busiest part of the year for any retailers, which means if you aren't constantly moving as a sales associate, the store is probably falling into an irreversable state of disrepair. Everyone on the staff moves with purpose, because the alternative is staying in-store more than an hour after closing, frantically rearranging the windswept store only to prepare it for another disordered status in another 12 hours. I actually find this atmosphere a lot more enjoyable than the quiet, slow days of the summer evenings I've previously worked. Not only does my shift go by much faster in the holidays, a lot more interesting stuff happens to freshen up an otherwise stale position.
Here's a few of the highlights I experienced this season:
Working at the New Location
After spending much of the summer aiding Marshalls in their transition from our old location to our new one a few hundred yards away, I never actually had the opportunity to work at the new store while it was open for business until this season. Class at C of I started on the same exact day of the new store's grand opening, an event that has become infamous among the other associates for the huge crowd that accompanied it. Now I can say I've worked in the new store, even though I was about 4 months overdue to start there.
If you haven't visited Meridian's Marshalls recently, please do so. Seriously, the new store is miles better than the old one. The walls are white and not yellow. The sales floor is wider, cleaner, and easier on the eyes. Our dressing rooms are considerably classier. Even our restrooms are top notch. I thought I would become wistful for the old store once I started working at the new one, but that certainly didn't happen. The old store was complete rubbish in comparison. The thrill of working in the new location never wore off the entire 3 weeks I spent there.
Seeing Familiar Faces
Every so often, someone passes through my checkout line that I recognize. Usually, such instances are rare, but this season I got to meet up with several familiar faces as I stood at my register. Old friends from high school, teachers I hadn't seen in a long time, friends from C of I...everyone seemed to choose the same time to visit Marshalls. Even our esteemed President Marvin Henberg stopped by to pick up a few things...and he recognized who I was!
I've only talked to Dr. Henberg a handful of times since I've been a student, but each time he's taken a jovial interest in what I've been up to. It was a great surprise to see that he's remembered each of those conversations, and that he's just as approachable off campus as he is on it. This is something that I feel makes C of I as unique as it is--I can think of nowhere else that I can speak with the President like I would with an old friend.
I Sold This Book
A customer brought this through my line and I spent the next few hours in a state of comedic disbelief. I'll let this link speak for itself. The pictures were quite fascinating, to say the least.
People Don't Know Things
One of my duties as a front end associate is to try and get customers to sign up for TJX Rewards Credit cards, a combination of rewards card and credit card that, in a nutshell, lets account holders save even more money the more they shop at Marshalls or TJ Maxx, our sister store. I think one of the reasons I spend so much time at the front desk is that I'm actually pretty good at getting people to sign up--I can usually get at least one account opened per shift, and I can get up to 3 if I'm lucky. And let me tell you, nothing is more frustrating when you have a customer interested in applying for the card and filling out the application, only to bail out martinez
halfway through because of silly reasons.
Seriously, how can someone be over 18 years old and NOT KNOW THEIR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER? I had mine memorized when I was 15, and I see no reason why other young people can't do the same. I had about 4 possible applicants stop the process on me because they didn't know this off the top of their heads. This is something essential. This is something millions pay taxes towards. And you don't know those 9 little numbers? Shame, shame.
Gahh, Christmas Music!
When I started at Marshalls this season, guess what was playing over our sound system? That's right: Christmas music. Just when I thought I got away from it after months of singing it in choirs, I was pulled back in. Fantastic.
It wouldn't have been so bad if we played a wide variety of it, but we basically just played the same 20 song playlist over and over again. As a result, I will never be able to hear Mele Kalikimaka ever again without thinking of Marshalls. Also, I don't think I'll ever be able to hear it again without being suddenly overcome with a desire to fly to Hawaii, find someone playing this song, and throwing a bunch of Christmas ornaments at them.
Anyway, I'm returning back to C of I in a couple of days to start Winter Term...I hope it goes well! See you on campus, everyone!