Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mixed tape

When I was a junior in college, I was hired to work the perfume counter at Dillard's department store during Christmas break. My mom persuaded me get the job, saying she had a friend whose daughter worked a perfume counter and was making a lot of money. She wanted me to get the job because they had agreed to fund a trip that upcoming summer on which I planned to follow Phish for five weeks around the East Coast. My parents had spent, like, $600 on concert tickets for me.

I acquiesced. As a perfume gal, I was supposed wear all black. I spent my days standing around the front of the store, attempting to mist any woman who walked by, convincing her that she needed what I was sprayin'.

"Would you like to sample Gucci Rush?" I would say one day. "It's really the new scent for the holidays."

The next day I was peddling Cool Water for Women. The following, it was Boucheron.

And if I sold a gift box? Bonus!

Many people I know would find this job demeaning. But I have never been ashamed to work anywhere. If the money is good, I will do it. My first job was folding clothes at Benetton, then I moved on to....wait for it....Chuck E Cheese's. After that, I worked for three weeks at Kids 'R Us.

So with perfuming paying $14 an hour, this 21-year-old saw a windfall. At the end of my tenure, if I reached a sales goal, I would get a $500 bonus. But no matter how alluring the money was, sometimes I just could not stand the smell of perfume. Those days, I volunteered for the gift wrapping station. There, I could be quiet and work an assembly line of paper folding and ribbon curling. Before the perfume job, I was the worst gift wrapper in the world. My family always made fun of me because whenever I had to wrap a gift, it went into a bag with some balled up tissue paper.

But selling perfume really made me love wrapping presents. I learned how to do corners, match up the patterns and how to get a tight wrap. These days, I love the way a pretty gift looks under the Christmas tree. And every year, I come up with gift-wrapping themes to distinguish my gifts from the others under the tree. One year, I did zebra stripes and tied ornaments to the packages with green and blue ribbon

This Christmas, I think I am going to use Happy Tape. I plan to use simple kraft paper and twine to wrap, and secure packages with this. What do you think?

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