Wrapped in an orange knit cardigan she fumbles with her keys at the gate. Her alabaster skin is rosy from the winters chill, and her ears warm and safe under a brown knit beret. The mall is quiet, the shops are dark, the halls are empty, the morning sun cascades from the sky lights onto the ceramic tiled planters. There is a serenity that sweeps over her in the peace of the mall before opening. Starbucks held steadily as she manages to lift the giant rolling metal cage, the clashing and clanging echoing off the vacant walls, only to shut it back behind her. With only emergency lights she makes the trail she knows all too well to the switch board that awaits beyond the back room door. Not quite ready for the harsh fluorescents she flips on the switches that accentuate her favorite spots, revealing only the cash wrap, the jewelry wall, and the most exotic product.
A looming feeling of mystery ignites her, inspires her, and she stands idle for a moment, now in the center of the cash wrap, and she sips. The warmth hits her tongue, dancing with flavors of pumpkin and cinnamon, and she then feels the warmth drip down her chest and fill and flatten into her stomach. She places her favorite CD into the sound system, and the pulse of the rhythm resonates all around her. This is the moment where hope and dreams flourish. The day has not yet started, and possibilities are endless.
She has created her own world, that metal grate a divide between her and the world. She writes a letter to her district manager covering the important details her week before and the exciting goals and plans for the week to come. She commemorates her top staff performers, and focuses on the strategies to strengthen the associates that seem to be misstepping. She makes the schedule for the upcoming weeks, and creates a to-do list by department, and then by employee for the week. She sets up their communication binders, and reviews the monetary goals for each day of the upcoming week.
Finally once all the paperwork and planning is aside she is left to her magical kingdom, her very own refuge. She is able to wander the aisles and take in the product that she holds with such high regard, and she is so excited spending her life sharing it with others. As she spots misplaced items she simply replaces them, everything kept neat, everything for the customer to be able to devour this ambience and adventure she strives to create.
And then it is time to open shop, the fluorescents are lit, the gates are opened, and the music alters from Tool to the sounds of Africa, Asia, and Brazil. The store is alive. She meets new and interesting people, listens to their stories, their needs, and their desires. She enjoys their company and can only hope they welcome hers. She joins them in their experience, smelling the aromas, ogling the jewelry, and selecting precocious gemstones. She is taken back in time again and again to her first venture into this very shop, the spark the ignited her passion and creativity. Her playful muse reawakened on each and every aisle, performing acrobatics from the ceilings, and dancing upon the walls. This almost spiritual intervention, that she hopes she can only recreate again and again like it had been done for her so many years ago…
It is closing time. The fluorescents once again dark, and the sun from the skylights has set so to rise one some other continent at some other side of the globe. The young shopgirl counts her register, delighting in the completion of yet another challenging goal. Nine Inch Nails now serves as her preamble to her night. She will turn off the lamps, the fountains, and put a stop to the spots ricochetting across the walls off the wind spinners. Her Starbucks has been replaced with a 32 oz styrofoam cup of soda from the Chick Fil’ A or the asian spot she has grown to love in the food court.
One last tour amongst the aisles before she shuts it down for the night. She locks the grate and takes a look at her shop from the outside proud and beaming as a mother would at her infant on his first steps, this is her life, her baby, her everything, and she’s fulfilled.