Friday, May 16, 2008

Portrait #4: Manager - Gift Wrapper

My most interesting encounter today has been with another barista but I don't suppose I should portrait two baristas in close succession, so today I will tell about a woman I met last week.

I went to the department store to buy a wedding gift for my friend. It was very fast and easy to pick it out - I was quite impressed with their gift-registry system! And as I was completing the purchase they offered to gift wrap it for me if I wanted. All I had to do was go down to customer service with the gift and the receipt. When I got there, the woman behind the counter was chatting with a younger woman in uniform, so I browsed through the greeting cards as the two women discussed store gossip and something regarding the younger woman's paycheck.

A few minutes later, the customer service representative turned her attention to me. She spoke with a strong accent, as do many people in Northern Virginia, and I never tire of asking where they are from. She is from Iran, but has lived in the U.S. for quite a while. As she carefully and artistically wrapped the gift, she told me that until recently, she never ever wrapped gifts. She always got them wrapped by the store, because she hated the pressure. But now, as a store manager, she has to be at the gift wrap counter anyway. While she could get another employee to do the wrapping, it would be pointless, and she has actually come to enjoy it. It's more practical this way, and she accepts that the responsibility came with the territory of her job. She talked on about her feelings about gift wrapping for several minutes, meanwhile working my gift's decor to perfection. Just as she had made me wait for her conversation with the other employee to end, she now made other customers wait as she gave me and my gift her undivided attention.

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