It’s kind of surprising that I have gotten to this advanced age without having worked retail before. Or waitressed, for that matter. Nearly everyone I know has done either or both of these during their misspent youth.
Looking back, I’m not completely sure how I escaped it, though I’m happy for those long ago diners’ sake that they were spared having Calamity Suzy spill coffee on them.
For the last few years of high school, I worked at a hostel which was in a former jail dating back to Victorian times. When I wasn’t checking people in and out, or making breakfast for dozens of people in the ancient kitchen, I gave tours of the jail, including Death Row and the gallows, the favorite part of the tour for school children of all ages.
In retrospect, it’s a bit odd that whoever was in charge let a teenage girl close up at night (11 pm, if I remember correctly) and open up in the morning, but nothing untoward ever happened, unless you count the couple who fled their Death Row accommodations right before closing time due to a ghost sighting.
So far, the best part of doing retail is meeting the visitors and hearing their stories. I think my favorite so far is a couple visiting from Albuquerque*, though they have a very special attachment to this area.
The husband is originally from Maine, and was in the airforce. During the Vietnam
War Police Action**, he was posted at the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, where there was a radar station. This was news to me, since all traces of it have vanished. While posted here, he stayed at a motel north of town. The motel owner’s family lived on site, and their children worked at the motel. One daughter was cleaning the airforce man’s room when he turned up unexpectedly. She said, “I can honestly say – we met in a motel room!”
Forty-three years later, they were back to check on the motel, which they now own, and take a stroll down memory lane. I’m glad I was one of the stops on that stroll.
**I was taught in school that the US has never lost a war. Seriously! They referred to the Vietnam War as a “police action”.