Monday, January 03, 2005

Are you being served?

I have an impressive list of workplaces from the last 16 months in London, the Evangelical Alliance, Transport for London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Drake International, Avanti Architects and now Elizabeth Arden.

This week I started out on my three month contract as an Elizabeth Arden counter dolly and it has been an eye opener. The entire arrangement fell into place because of a throw away remark made by the London Area Manager. Alison and I were exchanging banter and she asked me why I couldn’t come and work for her. When I told her my contract with Head Office was up in five days, she rushed the whole thing through in a week and I was a consultant – all rouged up and ready to go.

The two interviews, one with her and one with the store turned out to be mere formalities. The interview with Alison was an amusing one, as she told me she loved the hair, loved the eye makeup and loved me. I just had to lose the tongue stud and start wearing lipstick. The lipstick rule is actually the hardest part as I am a lip balm girl by choice. The ritual of lip liner, first coat, blot, second coat, blot, lip gloss, check teeth, reapply after tea breaks and lunch is slowly being ingrained as habit.

The store interview with the supposedly Nazi style supervisor was a shoo-in and I even made two sales as I sat on the counter doing my application.

A week into it and it is still like a game for me. I get to give out gifts and samples, unpack huge orders of expensive creams and perfumes and stand in a smart suit and full makeup amongst the beautiful smells and pretty faces of the Perfumery. It is certainly not a place I would ever have considered I would end up, but it is vastly entertaining and far more interesting than the office.

Quite apart from my pure joy at being back selling things, I have discovered that I have quite an advantage over the other consultants. I have a work ethic, I have a real sense that the customer is there to be served, and not ignored, and I have the happy knack of flirting outrageously and with tangible monetary rewards.

I have had customers so pleased with my service they hugged me, offer me free run of their own shops and I have even been invited to a party by a glamorous but shrewd Iranian who tried to drive a hard bargain and was so charmed by my smiling stonewalling that we ended up giggling together like girls.

It is long hours, sore feet and no weekends, but the business of selling dreams and making people laugh was never going to be a walk in the park.