Working 5 to 9

You’ve asked; I’ll answer… Since inquiring minds want to know, here’s a glimpse behind the dressing room curtain of my first few weeks as a working woman:

Fit to be tried:  The first thing I did at my job, after piles of paperwork, was to try on pants.  Lots and lots of pants.  Our store carries several styles of workout pants and they come in multiple lengths.  The best way to learn the fit and unique features of each?  Try them on!  In more than one size to compare.  And then I moved on to the capri or cropped lengths.  I haven’t tried them all, but I did try a lot.  I see more trying on in my future:)

Three pants and a capri:  Before I started work, I owned two pairs of their pants.  One I had purchased as a splurge for my spa trip last November.  One was a hand-me-down from my mom which I had never actually worn.  And I also owned a pair of fabulously comfortable capri pants that weren’t workout clothes.  Knowing that I was supposed to wear primarily their products while working, but having been told by the manager that I could “wear the same thing everyday if I want to,” I had not intended to buy anymore bottoms just yet.  Instead, I really needed tops.  But the fit of one pant style (from my trying-on-a-palooza) unexpected won me over.  The new pair is much more form fitting than I usually wear but made with some amazing compression material that holds things in and makes my jiggly bits less jiggly and my muffin top less muffiny.  Gotta love that!

In the red:  I have yet to receive my first paycheck.  Or, rather, my first direct deposit stub.  Actually, I have no idea when or how often I get paid.  But I made some error filling out my W4 form that probably delayed things.  Not that it much matters… I have so far spent more on new clothes for work than I’ve earned wearing them!  Shhh.  Don’t tell my husband.

What’s your hang up: I had no idea there were so many nuances to hanging clothes.  How they sit on the hanger, how the hangers sit on the rack, how the sleeves drape, where the tag is tucked, the position of the zipper pull.  And then there’s the folding.  Yes, there’s an art to that as well.  One of the first things I learned, and I’m happy to say that I (almost quickly) mastered, is how to fold the pants that go in bins on the wall.  And again, tag placement.  It gives me new appreciation for going into another store and putting something back after I’ve looked at it!

The germ hands are coming:  I’m a bit of a germophobe.  But there’s not much I can do on the job about touching things that have been touched many times before me.  I’m doing a great job of (mostly) not even thinking about it since it’s pretty much out of my control.  At the end of my shift when I get in my car, I break out the hand-sanitizer.  And when I get home I immediately wash my hands.  And for now, that’s as good as it gets.

Into each life a little train(ing) must fall:  I’m still in training.  There’s no official program or process, just learn as I go.  But learn slowly.  So far I’ve been mostly learning about the clothes.   And some about the store’s approach to customer service.  This slow process is hard for me because of the unknown.  I never know when I go in what I should be doing; I have to ask.  I never know if the person who will be supervising me on a particular shift has a plan to “further my education” or is just flying by the seat of her (well-fitting, great performing workout) pants.  I’m rearing to go.  But I don’t want to overstep.  Or screw up.  And there’s so much to learn just about the clothes!

No waiting.  I haven’t waited on any customers yet.  That’s kind of awkward, when they walk into the store and I feel a bit like a deer in headlights, standing there, saying nothing.  A couple of times I’ve been the only one in the front when someone’s come in so, yes, I did greet them.  And, honestly, I suspect I could handle it fine if I wasn’t so worried about knowing I’m not “trained” for this yet.  Soon, I hope.

Study hard – eeeeh.  My memory is bad.  Really bad.  And I’m a (reforming) perfectionist.  And a people pleaser.  So I want to do well at this job and I want to learn fast and I want to know the clothes.  Really know them.  So I can really help the customers.  So I’m studying at home.  After my pant trying extravaganza, I came home and got on the company website and looked at the pants and wrote some short notes about the features.  That wasn’t enough.  So, thanks to a scene on a TV show, I was reminded that in college I had relied on flash cards for memorization.  Yes, I made myself flash cards.  About pants.  And the next week I added bras.  And slowly but surely it’s sinking in.  I know that over time it will all gel, I’ll learn the products, I’ll remember the features.  But for now, it’s slow going and frustrating.  Darn memory!

The back up plan:  I worried that standing would be hard on my feet.  I’m pleasantly surprised that, probably thanks to wearing my supportive running shoes with their Birkenstock insoles, my feet don’t bother me at all.  But I can’t say the same for my back.  Which I also sort of expected, from past experience anytime I had to stand for long periods.  By the end of a shift my lower back is screaming.  I’m optimistic that over time I’ll adjust and this will get better.  And I suppose I should do more planks and core exercises:(  For now… ouch.

The names have been changed to protect the duplicate.   As in the blog world and most of my life, I am once again the other Karen.  Of all the names (in all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world), there just had to be another Karen.  I did give a moment’s thought to suggesting that at work I go by my last name which happens to be a women’s first name, but then I thought I might not respond to it.  So, Karen it is.  With my initial added, when necessary, to differentiate me.  Liza with a Z, meet Karen with a C.  So far, in addition to Karen 1.0, I’ve met about three-quarters of the staff and liked them all.  Four are about my age, give or take a few years (and that estimate is based on what I’ve learned about their kids’ ages), and one is 27.  Yes, I asked; it came up in conversation.  You had to be there.  I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone over time but am being very careful to not be “the new girl who talks to much.”  I think I’m probably already the “new girl who asks a lot of questions.”

It’s all about me.  I’ve never been a very confident person.  And I’ve always been an over-thinker.  Combine the two and picture me, laying in bed, awake in the dark, or watching a TV show without really watching, thinking about work, second-guessing things I did, replaying and rewriting conversations, thinking about other pants that I might have suggested to a particular customer, coming up with more questions… Aaack!  Make it stop!

My Google Reader runneth over:  Working has definitely impacted my time spent in cyberspace.  In the blog world (my own and yours), on Twitter and Facebook.  I’m still here!  I’m still reading.  Okay, maybe I’m not tweeting as much.  Priorities, after all:)  And I am probably commenting less and later.  (Or not at all if you have a blog that keeps giving me an error message!)  But I’m still here.  And I plan to stick around.

Does anybody really know what day it is.  Before I had a job, I lost track of the days of the week.  No one in my house went to school or work so every day was much like another.  Sure, my workout schedule varied.  I had to figure out by my second cup of (decaf green) tea if it was a strength training day or a yoga day.  But often my first waking thought would be, “Think, think, what day is it?”  Well, having a job hasn’t much helped.  Because my work schedule varies week to week.  (Both in terms of the days I work and the hours, when and how many.  So far it’s been some morning, some afternoons, and a lot of evenings.)  So, yes, now I have more reason to care what day it is, but the fact that I work or doesn’t work hasn’t helped my internal calendar one bit.

Patience is someone else’s virtue.  I’m trying.  Really I am.  I am trying to be patient with myself and what feels like an inordinate amount of time to learn all the clothes.  I am trying to be patient with the training process.  I am trying to be patient with being the new girl and wanting to be a fully contributing member of a team.  Patience is not my middle name.  I know it will all come in time.  I know that as much as time flies, I’ll look back a few weeks or months from now and… well, honestly, I’ll look back and be glad that I’ve come as far as I know I will have come by then!

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I’ll go.  The bottom-line is that I like having a job:)  I thought I would.  I knew I was bored.  I knew I needed some focus and purpose in my life.  Will this job become my passion a-la Oprah?  Probably not.  But maybe it will be enough.

Breaking news:  Since I drafted this post I have graduated to actually waiting on customers!  I’ve made several sales, been able to answer most questions but not all, and actually had fun doing it, although I’ll admit to lots of nervousness too.  (Good thing most of our clothes are moisture-wicking and odor-inhibiting since there’s a whole lotta sweating going on!)  I still haven’t learned anything about the register.  Except that in this day and age it’s maybe referred to as a computer instead:)

And with that, I’m off to work today, Thursday, 4:30-9:30.  Catch ya later!

Photo credit: [IMDb]



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49 responses to “Working 5 to 9

  1. Karen 2.0, you sound like you’re enjoying it which is great. I LOVE that they have you focusing on the clothes as I wasn’t sure that sort of thing was done any more but I know I certainly appreciate it when sales staff know the products.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself about not knowing stuff yet. I still grapple with that in my current job after one year and have to remind myself that others have been here 10 years and I do know a whole heaps of stuff I didn’t know a year ago!

    I’m glad you’re enjoying it!


    • This store is smaller and very much geared to helping customers find just the right thing. I think I’ll go in one of these days when I’m not scheduled to work and try on a lot more stuff to get a better idea of how things fit and to help myself keep them all straight in my muddled brain. You are right, though, I am being hard on myself. Sigh.

  2. Sounds like you’re enjoying yourself, and that is just as important as the money. ^^

    Try consciously changing the posture of your back. I always have to remind me to tuck under my pelvis when I stand, but it is helping a lot, and at the same time strengthening my core muscles.

    • Thanks! I’ll try that. My trainer also said to try to stand with my legs split (sort of front and back) but that’s a pretty awkward way to stand and so far I haven’t much remembered.

  3. Barbara

    Yay! This post makes me so happy! Glad you’re liking your job!

  4. I’m glad you’re enjoying the job! It will stop feeling so new soon enough. Sometimes I wish I could go back to my teenaged self and just show up at a job. 🙂

    • Oh – my teenaged self got “fired” from my first job! Actually, I realized years later that I was only hired seasonally and then laid off. But at the time they didn’t say that and, well, ouch. But the funny coincidence is that a few years later, while still a teen, I worked in a clothing store!

  5. It sounds like a perfect fit! (Sorry!) And I absolutely love this line: “… or is just flying by the seat of her (well-fitting, great performing workout) pants.” You are a natural salesperson. 🙂

  6. I’m just so excited for you. It sounds like you’re really enjoying it overall – yay!
    Now, about these pants that hold all the jiggly parts and muffin top in place……..?

  7. Holy. I bet you are tired by the end of the day. I bet they have neber had an employee so diligent. I love the flash cards! I would have KILLED for an employee like you. A buildingful would have been bliss. I am SURE your boss feels the same.

    Congrats on making your sale!

    All women (including me) will want to know about this mythical muffin top eliminator.

    • Ah, well, hmm, since I’m not really promoting my job here and am keeping mum about the name of the company…

      My hope is that my employer (and coworkers) don’t see my insecurity and appreciate my questions and other “learning aids” without realizing I’m doing that because I really feel like I’m struggling to get to know the clothes. Seriously, my memory is a major impediment right now. I also want to go in when I’m not working so I can try stuff on and really get to know the styles and fit.

  8. Great newsy post – so glad the job is feeling like a fit – both literally (haha – the pants’o’rama) and in the lifestyle sense. It IS nice to have some structure in the day/week – without it, I’d be even more cuckoo than i am now! My personal hope is to scale back to 30 hours so I still get benefits, but with a little more me/free time.

    Love that you’re a studious employee – they have to love you. If I’m ever in your ‘hood, I’m totally stopping in and asking to be waited on by Karen C!

    • If you are even in my ‘hood you had better let me know!!!

      I realized is another nice bonus of working is that I am more appreciative now of when I’m not working:)

  9. I’m glad you got the job and that it’s going so well. Soon you’ll be settled and comfortable and you’ll be able to relax. 🙂

  10. I have so many of your traits. I am also a recovering perfectionist and an over thinker and a worrier. I even have working dreams when I start a new job and work all night long even when I open my eyes and say “STOP.” It sounds like you’re doing just fine. 🙂

    • LOL – yes, I have working dreams too:) For years I even had dreams about going back and working at my old job I left over 15 years ago! And in those dreams I could never do whatever it was that I needed to do. But I did think maybe my subconscious was telling me to get a job:)

  11. This post made me smile! It sounds like you are enjoying yourself, this job is great for you!

  12. Wow, this is totally fun for me. I get to remember the feeling of starting something new… a job…
    How cool that you’re not just surrounded by really young women at work.
    I’m sure your customers already love you like we all do.
    Can’t wait for more stories!! Need pictures of your new favorite pants.

    • For ages and ages I’ve actually planned this post in my mind about photos of me in some of my exercise clothes. There’s a reason for it… which I’ll, of course, share once I get around to doing that post. Someday. So maybe I’ll have to add my new pants into the mix.

  13. Karen – you amaze me – how hard you are working to be the best employee ever! It really is amazing how much more is involved behind the scenes for a retail job like this & yes, for less money too – I just had to say – lots & lots of stuff for minimum or maybe a bit more than that. Kinda scary! 😉

    You go lady – you are awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Well, I do want to be good at my job, but right now I’m really trying to just overcome the darn aging thing – the memory! Seriously. Last night I had some self-doubt creep in about ever learning all the clothes and keeping the different styles straight. So, today I think I’m going in to try stuff on and see if that cements it in my addled brain. But I am embarrassed that I have to do this so am hoping my manager thinks it’s just diligent of me:)

  14. Yep, anyone with any retail experience involving clothing GETS the part about folding. Hubby had a short retail stint while working part-time waiting for a full-time teaching position to open up and I swear, he “folded” in his sleep. Better watch out………

  15. What a great name for a post – you are always so clever.

    The training process always has moments of discomfort. Before you know it, you’ll be training the newbie. Flash cards? Nice!

    I can’t remember what day it is either. And I sit in front of a computer all day too. I think tomorrow is Friday.

  16. Good luck with your new job! I love the breakdown. I’m sure you are doing wonderfully!

  17. Hey Karen C sounds like all is going well! I can relate to you over thinking and going over what you did, what you said and so on. I often do that after social events and it makes me crazy! I will actually lose sleep because of it.

    Hope it all becomes second nature to you soon and I know it will. I worked in a womens retail clothing store as holiday help one year and was amazed at all the rules regarding how to fold and hang clothes. Who knew?

  18. I’m so glad you’re having such a great time–when you’re not stressing yourself out over pants. Must you be SO much like me?! I’m sure you’re doing a fabulous job, how can you possibly not be when you’re putting so much time and prep into it? You’re a pant-selling rockstar! This week pants, next week bras, the week after that …. the world!! xx

  19. The first part of a new job is always the hardest. I had the part where you don’t really know what you’re supposed to be doing and have to rely on others pretty much all the time. Sounds like you’re doing great!

  20. I’m so impressed by your studying the clothes and their features on your own time…they are very lucky to have such a diligent employee who WANTS to do a great job!

  21. Glad you are enjoying it and being so diligent. I bet you already know more about the pants than some of the other employees who haven’t taken the time to study!

    As far as your back – there is a website that I will look up and send you the link too that explained perfectly how to stand for a healthy back. (I have many back problems). Maybe it will help you as it did me.

  22. Roz@weightingfor50

    Glad its going well Karen!!!!

  23. Hi Karen. From your description, I think I’ve figured out where you work and their workout apparel rocks (assuming the name is reminiscent of citrus fruit). Glad to hear its going so well and you are now interacting with customers!

  24. I imagine you are the hardest working one in that store! It will get easier and easier all the time. Hopefully the income versus clothing expense will even out soon LOL!

    P.S. sorry if my blog is flooding your reader with comments. I am about at my wit’s end with that.

  25. So glad you’re enjoying it…pretty soon it will all feel normal and as natural as breathing. One part of your job I would not like at all is the folding and hanging part. As fellow Karen, I feel your pain re so many others. I think I probably related this once before, but when I was in college, the hall in my dorm went like this: Karen & Teresa, Karen & Karen, Karen & Barbara, and Karen & Barbara.

    • Yes, I had you in my head when I was writing that part:) Actually, right now, I don’t mind the hanging and folding, probably because I actually know (now) what I’m doing!

  26. Loved this post Karen! Wow, you sound like the perfect employee and more importantly I think your customer service is going to be fantastic. All the effort that you are putting forth to learn the product will be such a welcomed benefit to the customer.

    There is no way I could stand that long. I hope the pain lessens in your back soon. Enjoy the new job.

  27. Hi Karen 🙂
    I was curious about your job, but it sounds like it’s going well. Thanks for the post. Best of luck!

    I know if I worked in the apparel business, all my salary would go into buying what I sell…all my salary already goes into buying clothes/workout clothes anyway…haha.

  28. Well, I would like to know just what those fun pants are that obliterate a muffin top! That alone is a great pair of pants.

    I think you would be good at most tings you try. Now it is this little shop, but who knows where this might lead. You certainly have a work ethic, too. I am guessing that you are really enjoying yourself. Plus you are learning so much and sounds like with some great folks too.

  29. Glad you are liking your new job! 🙂

    A small tip about the lower back, whenever you can, sort of lean forward against something, to where your back is starting to go at a 90 degree angle, it helps ease the pain and stress on your lower back. 🙂

  30. Yes, inquiring minds want to know about the muffin, jiggle inhibiting pants. I’m still laughing about the flash cards! Glad you’re having fun and that you’re getting to interact with customers, instead of just pants and bras.

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