Saturday, June 23, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good Saturday evening from New York.

When I last wrote, I wondered about entanglements that I would discover upon my return to the shop from my jury duty stint.

Now I am aware of the entanglements, and wonder what would have happened if Fate had put me onto a jury panel.

My current job as a shop manager is, in a way, the easiest job I have ever had. Prior careers have required more education, more verbal and written skills, have paid more, have had their own level of stress. I still laugh a bit to think that I once thought that a position in retail that connected me to the fashion world might just be fun.

On my first day back at the shop, I was approached by one of my staff, a staffer who in the past months had been on the verge of being let go. Many hours were spent meeting with him, trying to get him to realize that he did need to improve his performance. My company is very benevolent and tries to draw the best from each employee. Well, this staff member has found another job, and has given his two weeks' notice. This leaves me just further up the creek.

I am pleased for him, and (if I were not already missing my assistant manager and the other staff member now on personal leave, related to domestic abuse) would be glad to have a chance to re-fill his slot on our schedule. However, right now I am about to be down three people. Yipes!!!

Remember all, that I already have had difficulty in finding time for days off for myself. Well, perhaps this will be the watershed that will turn the tide. (That is a lot of water-words, please forgive me, I slip in the moisture, but am dry myself and still standing.)

Other staff members now know that they really do have to help each other. So far, some have actually contributed more than they have done previously.

Upwards on the corporate ladder, others now realize that they have to swing into action to get my shop properly staffed. The coming week features a special promotional event day centered on petites sizing and also a big summer sale. If either day attracts the quantity of customer response that is wished for, we will be quite overwhelmed! I actually hope that this is the case, since I have been asking for more help for months.

I am going to have a longed for day off on Monday, and will therefore actually not go to a meeting of my fellow store managers planned for that day. Let them send me the notes! That could be the day I get that elusive camera.

Meanwhile, a bit of New York scene reportage. Tomorrow is the annual NYC gay pride parade. The route, down Fifth Avenue, passes right past our shop. It is quite a visual and aural spectacle. I remember seeing the first such parade many decades back, that resulted from a police raid on a bar in the West Village. That parade was not a spectacle but more an opportunity for many gay men, mostly, to walk along a route and thereby declare that they were gay. It took some courage to do so. Now, it is sort of a Carnival parade, with outrageous costumes side by side with quieter family members, or more subdued people who want to declare their status. As decades pass by, the contingents that take HIV/AIDS as their cause have to find ways to continue to ask for support.

As I recall, last year's effect of the parade on business in the shop was minimal. We saw and heard amazing stuff pass by our front window, but also had many customers pop into the shop and try and buy our current styles. We shall see. I only have three folks, including me, scheduled to handle things tomorrow, so hope that will be enough.

Do you see how I meander?

What I was trying to write about this time around, was the notion of how we do get off course. How sometimes trying to do something that we thought that we wanted to do, can turn out to be not quite so wonderful.

I still do like many parts of managing a successful clothing shop in New York, but so miss the freedom to pursue my drawing and painting. I have no clue now how I may be able to find time to return to my real interests and still be able to support myself. I resist morphing into a revised version of myself. I want to still recognize the version that I value. We cannot control change, and should welcome it, but even so....

Maybe I should not have read "Diary of an Ordinary Woman" while on jury duty!

Do enjoy your Sunday! I envy you your gardens, lanes, sunsets, pubs....

Pleasant dreams.


  1. I hope that tomorrow is a good day at the shop and that the three of you are not run completely ragged! I have yet to see a Gay Pride Parade - there is a big one in Vancouver but not much of anything here.

  2. You must be exhausted. I hope they find you some new staff soon.

  3. if it is any consolaion all most of us this side of teh pond hae for you to envy is rain, lot of it in big amounts! I ahve seen bits of teh parade on TV somewhere in my life but never in the flesh as it were!

    Do try and find a minute, I know you do not have morem to sit and listetn to your mind and see if it already knows where you should be going.

    Anychance of writing aweekly column for a national paper on life in NY? I can see you doing it.

  4. Frances, I hope it goes well and you are not too exhausted. You would have to take a big leap of faith to leave your work and know you would somehow be able to support yourself in a way you would enjoy more.

  5. Goodness-I remember well the feeling when a member of my staff left (and with the bank, they were happy to cut numbers and NEVER replaced people!)

    You must be exhausted and will no doubt be looking forward to your well deserved day off tomorrow.

    warm wishes

  6. Francis, your staffing problems brought back to me one of the many reasons why I gave up a fairly lucrative career. I must admit I was amazed when I did give up how inexpensive life can be when you don't have to turn up for work everyday. Now I just work part time, as and when work turns up. But I guess I don't live in New York...

  7. Weather appalling here at present -no flaming June as in gorgious - more flaming as in "flaming awful"!!.
    You never know, you might well find even better staff as replacements. We have just found a super girl to replace one who suddenly handed in her notice to run off into the sunset with a new love! She brings all sorts of skills that the leaver never had! So - bright side Frances - bright side!!

  8. Hi Frances,
    Yikes indeed, this is getting silly at work, you can't function on such low levels of staff and you all need proper time off, so something will have to give.......don't let it be you. You need your time off.

    Least the Jury service is out of the way, never had to do it, my hubby absolutely dreads being picked , he would be physically sick if they forced him to do it!

    Not getting to blog much myself at moment nor read much as quite hectic here lots of things going on.
    Love Elaine

  9. Take time out. I hope you get some help soon.

  10. aha! How I feel for you. Both with the work stresses and the jury service, having just done my two week stint. And yes it rains here. But the smell of rain is lovely

  11. Do you get any famous people in your shop? It sounds very grand on 5th Avenue! I'd just love to see that parade, I can imagine it being so colourful and 'anything goes'. The only ever parade I've been to is a Church Parade where I used to carry the Union Jack flag for the girl guides! That was quite exciting at the time. Maybe a little more reserved, however!
    I love reading your blogs, btw, I find them so interesting.
    Crystal xx

  12. Good Morning Frances,
    Thank you so much for your concern and kind comments.
    Hopefully today you will be at home and not the shop, as you say, perhaps they can send the notes to you, re staff meeting. I do not get enough time to read or garden as I would like, which makes me wonder, I MUST DO SOMETIMES. Hoping for your Knight in Shining Armour to whisk you away to all those Art Gallery's, and Book Stores. I do hope your day will be more relaxing for you Dear Frances away from the shop this Monday, such a worry over staffing problems for you.

  13. Yuck on the staffing problems. I remember them all too clearly from my corporate days. But Mousie will hopefully be right - there will surely be better things ahead! You're only missing rain over here.

  14. Good Evening Dear Frances,
    Thank you so much for your kind comments, and concern. Raining very heavily here, there has been a lot of floods, do hope it stays off during the night a little longer. How was your day today Frances, have you managed to get some quiet time for yourself, do hope so.