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New day, same mall.

It feels like just last Thursday I was gearing up to bail on retail. I was so many kinds of over it. The surly customers, the daily goals, the shitty & unsteady hours, the barely above minimum wage pay. And I've committed to a dimension of retail I could not have foreseen and would not have guessed. Certainly not last year when I came into this mad, fun, frenetic world of customers and sales, nor last month when I was so eager to wash my hands of it.

But I am getting ahead of myself--and dangerously florid.

So this whole turn of events began back in mid-October when I inherited a part time position in visuals at Macy's from Parker. It was a pretty sweet gig, though short term. The excellent pay, stable hours, and manageable workload spoiled me some and, as it came to an end, that's what pushed me to such a breaking point with retail as a whole. Simply put, I wanted to keep getting that kinda money with a nice steady schedule and, having realized such things were possible, I felt like I was overworked and underpaid at my other job.

Things went differently, though, than I thought I'd wanted. I was offered a job in recovery at Macy's before the visuals thing was even over; it was back to minimum wage but had lots of hours so I took it. I figured I'd give it a shot--I could handle folding clothes. Not even 3 weeks into it and I was offered a position selling fragrance by Ed, the sales manager for cosmetics. Same crap wage but now with 3% commission--right in the middle of the holiday madness. I stood to make some real bank here, so it was a pretty damn easy decision to make.

So, even though I had felt like my time in retail was at its end, I stuck it out. I'm still not entirely sure why. Maybe I wanted to keep the extra source of income; maybe I was keeping my options open. Maybe it was some kind of humility--these opportunities came around the same time I realized how cocky I'd gotten. Underlying the feelings of antipathy toward retail was a sense of injustice--a quiet belief that I was better than this, better than my coworkers but treated just as badly. Whatever the case, things worked out much better and more easily than I could have anticipated.

Then, about a week or two ago, Ed pulled me aside. It had always been understood that I'd be hired on permanently after the holidays. However, Ed took me by surprise by offering me a choice of either continuing part time or going full time. Full Time. I've never had a full time job; it's something I've dreamed of. And now it was being dropped in my lap.

Of course I took it. It was full time.

It blew my mind kinda. I was somehow convinced that I was so much less capable or successful than my coworkers. That I was struggling to keep up, and probably failing. So, I kept trying to work hard and learn fast. Apparently, Ed thinks I'm doing amazingly well, and he was more than happy to hang on to me. As far as he's concerned, fragrance is lucky to have me. And all I had to do was try.

I'm still going to get the same crappy $7.50 an hour wage but still getting the 3% commission. Given the price points in fragrance, that maths out nicely. If I can manage at least one sale every hour, then I'll get around $2 or $3 on top of my wage, meaning I stand to earn at least $10 per hour most of the time. And quite possibly a good bit more than that (apparently some people can earn as much as $15 an hour!). Even if I make no sales, that $7.50 adds up with 40hrs per week. As far as I'm concerned, my earnings work out to be some real serious money.

And, frankly, working in fragrance has been a lot of fun. It's less taxing and has me less scattered all over the place; I can focus on things a little longer and closer. That's so gratifying for me. Quite significantly, I don't feel as burnt out by the end of each shift, nevermind the end of each week. Almost none of this has been true at any other job I can remember. So I kinda loved this job even before going full time.

So, things have a way of working out. It turns out that I don't have to be in control of every detail and decision all of the time for things to turn out to my satisfaction; it actually comes down to trying my best as much as I can. Doing what I have to. I did as I was told in visuals and did it to the best of my ability, and was recruited for recovery. I stuck with it and kept myself up & going even though it was boring and braindeadening. And, between my solid work in both jobs, Ed took notice. I kept at it and--putting what I've learned at American Eagle to good use--it turns out I've done pretty well for myself.

I'm excited. All of a sudden, moving outta my parents' basement has gotten a lot more possible. Still having enough money in the bank to go out with friends--even treat them--on the night before I'm paid...buying my family gifts for Christmas...not having to ask my parents for some extra money here and there or no longer persuading them as to why they need to buy me something.... It feels pretty good. I feel pretty good. I'm heading in a really nice direction, and I am so grateful.

All the things that have led up to this, all the work and learning, all of it makes me feel so warm and happy. I feel so content knowing that I tried, and that in leaving the rest up to whatever powers may be things not only worked out better than I could have imagined but so much less maddeningly or taxingly. It used to be I'd have such a deathgrip on micromanagement that I'd exhaust & frustrate myself to the point of giving up. I'd get none of what I'd been so hell bent on wanting, and instead have a pocketful of anger and regret.

So I'm happy, and I'm hopeful. I feel a little bit more like a real grownup and, though it took me almost 25 years to get here, it turns out it's a lot less scary than I thought.


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