Monday, March 09, 2009

saving graces

Yesterday was International Women's Day! Exciting. I spent the day working at the flower shop (it was raining and therefore slow), and then making a zillion copies and starting the lengthy creasing process so that I can start getting cookbooks in the mail soon. But anyway, IWD. Did you know that IWD actually has a flower? That's right. It's a flower called mimosa or acacia and there are historical reasons for the choice, although I still think it's kind of a weird thing to formalize. Last year, I was the only person on staff who even knew that there was an International Women's Day, which I explained (somewhat stupidly) by saying that I hung out with a bunch of women's studies people in college. Which was kind of true, but puts the day automatically into something those crazy feminists thought up. It's been going on since 1911, long before the current generation of crazy feminists were twinkles in various people's eyes.
This is what our mimosa looks like:


We have many categories of customers in the shop: curt and surly single men, bickering gay couples, slightly strange characters (Veronica Boy, I'm looking at you), and possibly my least favorite, the high-maintenance people. These are the people who pick out flowers, one at a time, staring intently at the table and rejecting suggestion after suggestion, looking for the one flower that will apparently tie their collection of single stems together. It's snarky of me to say that, and I feel bad because in some ways these people represent some of the best aspects of my job: the fact that we work with customers interactively, the fact that our flowers aren't protected in a cooler behind glass but are instead accessible and personable, the fact that I have regular customers at all regardless of the silly internal categorization I put them through. But it's incredibly frustrating to me to follow somebody for twenty minutes, having suggestion after suggestion rejected, itching to just grab the flowers out of the customer's hands and make it coherent and balanced. I bite my tongue because a) I believe in artistic vision, regardless of the perceived "worth" of the outcome, and b) I know it's just the flower snob in me talking. In truth, I'd rather have somebody give an incoherent bouquet that they carefully picked out themselves than to grab the reins and give them my vision instead. But that doesn't make the experience less frustrating.
Yesterday one of my least favorite high-maintenance customers came in. He seems nice enough, but he's rather taciturn and takes a really, really long time to pick out his flowers. Yesterday I didn't even try, I just let him loose and watched from the counter because I knew he would end up doing whatever he wanted anyway. But anyway... In some ways he's one of my least favorite customers to help, but I have a soft spot for him as a person because of this: every year on IWD, he comes in and buys flowers for his neighbor. He tells me that she's from Bosnia, and that she's always nice to him and does things like folding his laundry when he forgets it in the dryer (which apparently happens a lot?), and so every day on International Women's Day he brings her flowers. (Last year he even knew about the mimosa, although we were out this year.) He told me that she must look older than she actually is, because when he gave her flowers last year she jumped up and down like a girl. The possibly weird undertones of this are not lost on me: she folds his laundry and can't be old if she jumps up and down? But still, it's a little bit adorable when he tells me about it, and I like him a little better for it.

5 comments:

Emilyon said...

that's a nice story. I hope he has good taste?

ammie said...

Well... Let's just say he's one of those "1 stem each of six different things" people. Kind of non-cohesive, but not terrible. Usually ;) But it is a nice story, I agree.

Rosiecat said...

Happy International Women's Day, Ammie!

I bet you get a lot of interesting traffic in a flower shop! Cheers to you for supporting artistic vision. I always have to grit my teeth in situations where I can see that the results are going to be a train wreck...

Alicia Dabney said...

Happy International Women's Day!

I have never heard of a flower shop that let's the customer interact like that. I'd be thrilled to find one of those. Loved the story about the guy, too.

ammie said...

I wish more florists did that! It's one of my favorite parts of the job, and leads to many, many funny customer stories :P