As teens, Annie and I used to watch re-runs of Rod Serling’s, the Twilight Zone. The episodes always had some random, weird happening; fading out with no explanation to that unforgettable music. A few years ago I took a job and felt like I worked in the Twilight Zone for about a month.
I was hired to work in a shop of decorations, knick-knacks, collectibles and more. Every last nook and cranny in the place held a “you must have” for your home item. Stuff was everywhere, floor to ceiling and even hanging down from the ceiling.
The shop was in a three story building with items stuffed on second and third floor as well as in the basement. The second and third floor storage rooms actually had isle after isle of shelves holding all the merchandise, fitting between the shelves was the trick. The basement was the same way except only dirt for a floor.
Once a customer bought something on the main floor, the workers had to scurry up the stairs, or down the stairs to replace it; or to get the customer the item they wanted. Even with maps posted everywhere it was still like searching a maze.
The owner would change themes often for certain sections so employees had to bag up, box up and run the stairs to store one theme, while gathering and bringing down or up another. Artificial flowers and etc were also used; we used decorations to decorate the decoration displays. (Did you get that?)
After changing my first themed area, I stood back feeling pretty good. Looked lovely to me, inviting, even if I do say so. The owner took one look, patted me on the back, “Good try,” and then proceeded to rearrange. When she was finished it looked totally different, not at all like my work. “There you go, good job.” She said, patting my back again. (Wait was that for me or her, and why pat my back and not her own.)
Again and again I was assigned other themed areas. The other employees assured me she must like my work; but it wasn’t work, it was decorating. My knees did complain though from the running up and down the stairs about 20 to 30 times a day.
My biggest challenge from the owner has to be when she actually hung an artificial Christmas tree upside down from the ceiling. I hadn’t seen it yet when she said, “Have a tree for you to decorate for Christmas.” I felt excited as I had been decorating Christmas trees for years. I can do this I told myself; will make her proud, then I see the upside down tree.
Now if that was not challenge enough, the theme for the tree was other countries; countries that do and don’t celebrate Christmas. Had to do some research before I could even start. I spent quite a bit of time, working on it and again thought it came out lovely. Hanging ornaments on an upside down tree is not easy.
All done, looks great; again she says “Good try;” and proceeds to rearrange it all. I was crushed, thought I did good but guess not.
After about a month passes I am more aware of where everything is and the owner is doing less changes to my displays, customers are starting to know me and me them.
“You’ve been doing a wonderful job, have done nothing wrong; but I am afraid you don’t fit in so I am letting you go.”
Wait, I do good and you are letting me go? The owner goes on to explain she doesn’t need a reason to let me go as an “at will employer.” A what? I had to look it up later, but NY State allows at will employment, which means you can be let go, or fired for no reason and the employee can’t do anything about it.
I was mortified, I had never lost a job before and being told I did a good and then shoved out the door; that was just odd to me.
“I don’t fit in” kept running through my head, fit in to what? I wasn’t a good decorator is that the trouble? My mind is trying to process it all when I hear the boss say, “Don’t worry you can work your hours today and tomorrow, just don’t come back next week.”
I looked at her in shock, “Sorry that doesn’t fit in to my plans.” And I walked out; but I swear I heard the theme of Twilight Zone when I did. Why did I ever think I would be happy at such a job?