“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
–I have no idea
“Hi, I’ve just stepped in dog poop.”
I’m already on the floor cleaning up a puddle of dog wee. I look up and a man is towering over me like I am his servant.
“Someone’s dog pooped in the shop, it wasn’t my dog! But I stood in it.”
Yes he has. Not only has he stood in it, he’s tried to wipe it off on different areas of the shop floor and walked it across said floor. Obviously that’s the logical way to deal with standing in dog poo, walk it through a shop.
“Sure thing, I will clean that up.”
And I kid you not, he then kicked his shoes off at me while I’m still kneeling on the floor and said; “great, you can clean those too.” and walked off in bare feet leaving me with his excrement covered flip flops and two meters of crap covered concrete to clean.
Sometimes, waking up to go to my day job feels like a chore. I mean I’m grateful to have it, but sometimes I have to remind myself of that. Me waking up on a work day is like my mum convincing my three year old niece that it is in fact not optional to wear clothes in public. Every step it’s “okay Chelsea, just get in the shower. No, stop arguing and GET IN THE SHOWER!”
Once I get there I really enjoy it, I definitely wouldn’t have chosen this job if it didn’t interest me. But when you know what it is you want to do with your life and you have to keep waiting for it, it can be difficult to love the job that pays your rent in the mean time. I call it my day job to remind me that this doesn’t have to be my chosen career if I don’t want it to be, that without this job I couldn’t stay in Sydney and that the best is yet to come. It helps me to stay focused on my career.
Since I moved to Sydney I’ve swapped day jobs four times. Not because I have no loyalty or get sacked, it’s because I love learning and while that’s something that can happen in retail, sometimes things can get stale. Especially when sales isn’t your passion. That’s why in the end I left fashion (where may I say I was doing a pretty great job) and went back to working with pets. I say back, cause my pet store co-workers back home in New Zealand laugh when they find out I moved here to act and went back to the job I was in before I started my degree. Yeah yeah, cheers guys!
There’s something quite rewarding about educating customers on what’s best for their pets. Nerdy me loves this fish and testing people’s water, it makes me feel like I’m actually doing science and for a while I can trick my brain into thinking I’m doing something new, playing detective. I love telling people their dog is overweight (I’m not kidding) and getting a new diet in place, makes me feel less guilty about my diet… I love helping people and I love my team of nurturing co-workers. However, as far as customers go, not all of them reciprocate my love. I have many a found monologue from the Pet Parents of Sydney, that’s right guys, soon y’all will be famous when I quote you on stage!
From the lip injected chihuahua owner to the business man who picks up his girlfriend’s bird seed, (surprisingly the seed is for the bird, not the girlfriend) to the crazy cat lady who’s phone is loaded with thousands of videos of her cats eating, my day is full of entertainment. One I will never forget is the lady who floated in in her designer white kaftan like ghost’s of housewives passed, pushing her newborn baby in a fancy twin pram. In the other cradle of the twin pram sat her other baby, her cat. A perfectly groomed white rag doll dressed up to the nines in a labelled harness and collar sitting on a lamb skin. Oh boy, the things you see in retail!
One of my favourite days (in hindsight!) to date is the day we introduced a fee for plastic bags to deter people from using them and look after the environment. The tantrums that were thrown that day! Picture this, one of the wealthiest places in Sydney full of beautiful people dressed to the nines in the early hours of the morning, wallets busting at the seams, customers happy to spend hundreds of dollars on their fur babies and quite seriously ripping into me as a person for charging a lousy 5c at the counter for a plastic bag.
“So now you’re making a profit from it? Or do you donate it to the environment? That’s just money hungry.” (Actual quote)
Yes, lady. We are raking in millions taking in your spare 5c, after tax we are making huge returns. Donate it to the environment? Yeah, we just take these huge bags of 5c pieces we hoard from generous people such as yourself and dump them in the rain forest so the trees can save themselves.
“Oh, can you waive the 5c fee for my plastic bag seeing as I didn’t know about it?”
Yeah… You’re the same guy who cracked the joke about how “it’s free cause it had no tag on it,” right? Wait, you weren’t joking?
Listen up honey, I know that Burberry scarf you’re wearing isn’t from a thrift shop. For anyone who doesn’t know, Burberry Scarves in Sydney are more common than a cold and more expensive than a whole months rent. It’s the most basic pattern of scarf on a tan background that everyone wants to own because it’s “signature” like a Louis Vuitton monogram or Louboutin Red Bottom Heel, I didn’t even know those were different designers before I moved to this buzzing wee business city. And that’s fine, if it’s what you’re into and have the money for, but most of us commoners have bills to pay.
Okay maybe I should reign in the sass, but 8 hours a day of women pointing their fresh manicures at cans of cat food demanding I pick out 50 individual tins with no dents in them is enough to turn even the most out-going of people persons into social hermits.
I know what it’s like to scrounge for 5c. I was blessed to have a mum who tried to protect me from this reality as much as possible while I grew up but when she was widowed it became harder to hide it. I was the kid with my guitar outside the supermarket busking when times were tough, whether it was to help out the family or to pay for my own things to take the pressure off my mum. I had a part time job at age 12 and right through high school and uni. I’ve always understood that nothing comes for free, that you work hard, that for some people “it’ll only cost you the equivalent of a coffee a week” is actually all that that person has that week.
In a city where there are homeless people on every corner I am constantly astounded at the greed and the focus on money.
Then there’s my favourite customers, the ones who come into the shop and I think, “it was worth coming in today.” The single mum who comes in for advice and a catch up, the young wife with her rescue dogs, and the student with her puppy I’ve been watching grow since she saved him, these are the people who on a daily basis restore my faith in humanity. Our hour long chats on the floor of the shop, our conversations on the phone about pet problems, even just a brief hello when they’re in a rush. These people who treat me like I’m a person not a robot, who remember my name, you guys honestly make the day so much better.
Sundays are therapeutic, among the returns from salty patrons who’s products weren’t to their desire and the woman who refuses to make eye contact with me, there’s all these dogs! Sunday is dog walking day and every dog in the suburb comes in for a treat and a cuddle and it is perfect. Who can be sad when you have a 9 week old puppy in your arms?
One thing I’ve been learning on this journey is that a little kindness goes a long way. I’ve done a lot of jobs on my road to becoming an actor; waitressing, fashion retail, call centre work, barista, pet retail, tutoring blah blah blah. Just because of the job a person is in doesn’t mean they’re any lower (or higher) on the food chain than us. We all work together, if we didn’t have the person to fix our toilet, or fix our sewers at 2am, sell us our bread, milk our cows, if we were all the businessman in the Burberry Scarf, where would society stand? Just because the girl in front of you seems happy, bubbly and is in a polo shirt selling fish flakes, doesn’t mean she doesn’t hurt when you treat her like part of the furniture. That person serving you is also making a living, also surviving and just like you, has a whole life of experiences that you’ve never even heard about.
So while I shift jobs a lot to keep learning, there’s one thing that I consistently learn at all of them, perspective is so important and money isn’t everything. I have to remind myself of that when I see someone who looks like they’re sitting comfortably, they might be having very similar struggles to me. I have to remember where my hope and my joy comes from, ultimately what it is that makes me smile, that helps me love others and that what has me focusing on my dream while working my day job.
God has got you where He wants you, no matter your job. You might be a solo mum or dad, working a 9 to 5, a nanny, retail assistant, cleaner, accountant, teacher, it’s not necessarily what you do that defines you, but how you do it. Be kind, always.
And for goodness sake, if your dog poops in a shop, just be a decent human and not walk through it.
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”