Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Take a look at this picture. You probably know it as a zucchini, or if you are confused, a cucumber. In England, it is a courgette. Yesterday I started my new job at "JJ Atkinsons and Sons, World-Class Fruiterers." I have no idea how to pronounce that last word, so its lucky I don't have to answer any phones. That is actually my least favorite part of working retail, because at least in America, you can't just answer the phone and say the business' name, you must launch into a memorized two paragraph exultation, even if a client is just calling to ask for directions.
ANYWAY, the good news is I don't have to do any hokey phone answers or ask customers if they've seen our latest special or if they'd like to apply for a Target card, I just have to ring up fruit and veg. It seems simple enough. The only thing is that half the produce I've never seen before in my life, I'm still not 100% on British currency, and did I mention I need to memorize like 200 codes for all the produce?
But considering all that, I think my first day went pretty well. The first half of the day was pouring and we had few customers, which was nice. Andy, the assistant manager, walked me through the first half day's transactions, including all the codes, specials, and etc. It is pretty easy when he's standing next to me. The market is open on to the market street, so I was worried about freezing, but we have lovely fleecy jackets provided. They are all large man-sized, so they perfectly complimented the professional yet trendy outfit I had selected with which to make a good impression.
The day was fairly smooth until closing time. How is it customers always know when you're about to close and decide to bring all their families in when you're trying to clean and lock up? I was taken off till to do some cleaning, then called back on due to a massive line. I'm trying to ring up all these items that I don't have memorized so I must keep referring to a giant list of codes, and I almost made the wrong change, and when I corrected my mental math error I started counting it back in dollars instead of pounds, and there was a huge line at my till and Andy was yelling something about my till's screen and I almost lost it. Courgettes, isn't that stupid! BUT I reminded myself that I was living in a foreign country and this was my first day at a job I had never done before and I was just familiarizing myself with the bizarre names, myriad of codes, and absurd amount of coins that each transaction required.
I took a deep breath and just did my best to keep the line moving, and when it was gone I shot Andy a satisfactory look, because I know I can handle this. Perhaps this is my new England mantra. I can handle this. Living in England, nothing is really hard or scary in itself. Its just that nothing is as easy as it used to be in America, and this gets frustrating. But I know I can handle it.