Working in retail taught me to fall in love with ringing in something new: calm, quiet January.
Imagine the living room and kitchen on Christmas afternoon. Multiply that mess by fifty, and that’s what the store usually looked like on January third. Unlike home, though, we couldn’t toss everything in a hefty bag, a closet, or the attic. We threw away Starbuck's cups, chicken nuggets, candy wrappers, and gum, and the rest was gathered and sold to customers who threw out their old and made room for new.
We were anxious to get rid of the old: sweaters, coats, gloves, and flannel shirts, and looked forward to ringing up the new and to the calm quiet of January, but getting there took work.
1. Search the store for more old to mark down and add to the clearance zone. If we were lucky, we’d find them together and orderly on one rack while having a good battery for the scanner. That never happened.
2. Hunt for tags for old and new. As savvy as retail associates are forced to be, they haven’t memorized prices for the entire stock. When Siri becomes a retail associate, she’ll be employee of the year. Until then, UPCs run the place, and the UPCs that disappear the fastest are the last shirt, pant, earring, purse, etc.
3. Move lost old back home with the rest of the old. The more old we rang up, the more room we had for the new, so the trampled and tried on, and the folded in a box under the tree until thrown in a bag and returned on December 26 had to look appealing for the customers who always turned an old into next year's new.
4. INVENTORY. If we didn't ring it up and see it leave the store, we counted it. Saturday after closing, we were tired, but BEEP we were soon BEEP energized with the constant BEEPING of dozens of scanners all BEEP over the store until midnight.
6:00AM Sunday morning BEEP we were sleepy but had to BEEP return to scan every sock 1,2,3 on every row BEEP, 62, 63 BEEP...80,81 then press escape (we wish), count every sock individually 1, 2, 3,..67, 68,...79. Scanner says 81, recount socks 1,2,3,...77,78. Repeat for scarves, wash cloths, purses, shoes, BEEP boxed jewelry, necklaces, dishes, etc., sometimes keying 13 digits manually, crawling across BEEP the floor counting panties, climbing on ladders counting towels and BEEP cupcake paraphernalia. The reward was a fifteen-minute snack break, home for four hours, then returning after close and counting BEEP until midnight.
All of that work was to get rid of old and enjoy something new and a quiet calm. In our homes and offices, we’ve worked and thrown away or stored all the old stuff and brought life back to order, to enjoy quiet calm and maybe something new. But getting rid of old isn't just for stuff. It's also for old habits or ideas, things that aren't moving us forward. Worries that weigh us down. This work is much more difficult than getting rid of stuff, but it's necessary sometimes if we want to find the calm quiet of something new.
Ring in something new,