Thursday, April 2, 2009

Shoes, boys, and a tattoo

Contrary to popular belief, the life of a college student is really not that interesting, especially for college students who aren't living any sort of "sex, drugs, and rock n roll" lifestyle. In my free time, I read, I go on picnics, I go thrift store shopping in midtown Sacramento, and eat a lot of sushi. Needless to say, there really isn't MUCH to say about most of that.

However, my NON-free time is spent entirely at a store called Vans.

Now, I know that most of the people who read this blog are from Utah, and to be honest, I haven't the slightest idea if there are any Vans locations there, so you may not even be sure what exactly "Vans" are. First of all, they're shoes.

Our most popular style:

(Vans "Authentics")

Now, like I said, I don't know about Utah, but in California, especially in my town, everyone and their mother wears Vans. Before getting the job there, I'd never been a particularly huge fan of their shoes; I'm not one for sneakers. I've always been a classy ballet flat kind of girl, though lately I've become a TOMS girl:

(For every pair of TOMS shoes purchased, a pair is given to a child in need.)

(Check out: if that's something that interests you. But I don't work for TOMS, and this blog is supposed to be about Vans, so-)

Anywho, basically everyone around here between the ages of 5 and 25 wears Vans, which means that, despite the current economic situation, business is BOOMing at work. I spend my days running back and forth, climbing up stock room shelves (they aren't very accomodating for those of us who inherited our mother's short genes), and on particularly busy days, literally not having room to BREATHE on the sale room floor.

But I LOVE my job. Genuinely adore the people I work with, the environment, the fast pace. It's busy, it's exciting, it's fun.

However, a few pet peeves: customers who interrupt OTHER customers. I'll be helping a person with shoes, answering their questions, and another person will walk up as if they don't see or don't care about the customer I'm helping and bark at me, "Size 8!" I generally wish I could turn to them and say, "...and your point is?" (But we've all learned to save our anger for the backroom, where we can freely rant about the customers. Consider your own shopping habits; do you think there's anyone angrily cursing about you when they walk away? Food for thought.) Then there are the customers who think you've got magic memory. "Hi, yes, I'd like to have this shoe, this shoe, and this shoe in size 7 in men's, and this shoe and this shoe in a size 7.5 in women's, and then this shoe and this shoe if you don't have that shoe and that shoe." Now, keep in mind, for every pair of shoes for every customer, you have to remember, not just the size, but the style and color. And we aren't talking Crayola crayon colors; if you see a purple shoe? Yah, that color is called "Liberty". Brown? "Espresso". Green? Possibly "Poison Green" or "Leprachaun". Navy blue? "Peacoat". And so on.

But you get used to it.

As I was saying before, though, I was never really a huge fan of Vans before I started working there. So why did I want to get a job there you ask? The answer is a little bit embarassing, but basically...the boys.

As long as I can remember, during my trips to the mall, I would make a stop at the Vans store, and nearly every single guy on the staff was unbelievably attractive. So, after my "high school sweetheart" dumped me a month after graduation, and my summer job at Golfland was becoming unbearable, I thought one day, "Hey, I probably won't get the job, but I might as well apply." And, lo and behold, I did!

But what they don't tell you in the interview is that, in addition to being very very cute, all of the men of Vans are taken.

A friend of mine used this analogy: Imagine that you are a chocoholic (maybe you don't have to imagine, most people are) and you find yourself presented with the opportunity to work at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory! You're so excited you might burst! and you run into work on your first day, ready to dive into the chocolate river, and to your heartbroken dismay, you discover you've developed a sudden allergy to chocolate.

(Though, it would be more accurate to say that this chocolate is now allergic to you.)

I really don't mind it now, though. The guys are all my buddies now, who I can laugh and joke and hang out with, which really is much more fun and less complicated than if they were all "prospects" instead. (Plus, having good looking guy friends means that you get to...y'know...look at good looking guys all the time, no problem!)

I must pause now, though. Reading back, I realize this is making me sound significantly more "boy crazy" than I am, mostly because I equated my interest in them to a chocolate addiction. For the record, I very much enjoy being single, and the freedom to spend my time outside of work as I please. I just don't think there's anything wrong with positioning one's self in such a way as to make one available, in case, y'know, someone worthwhile actually happens to come along.

But I digress.
Anyway, one other prevalent part of the culture here: tattoos. And I'd say, working in retail, the one store where this is most visible is definitely Vans. Now, this isn't a blog about tattoos, or what your opinion of tattoos might be, but since I am talking about Vans, I thought I'd show a picture of one of my managers and I at work:

I'll leave it up to you to guess: coincidental resemblance to his tattoo? or did he decide to commemorate his favorite employee?