This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Former Hallmark Employee

Another Valentine's Day has come and gone, another year survived. Facebook blows up with adorable pictures and proclamations of loneliness and hatred for the day. Most couples don't care about it as much as those who are single and insist it's ridiculous, stupid, and manufactured love.

Funny how these people talk about something they despise so fucking much.

I myself have never had a Valentine's Day and this year was the same. I've never gotten a bouquet of red roses or a heart-shaped box of chocolates. I haven't gotten to do that cutesy stuff that's rather gag-worthy and reserved for a specific time of the year. On the 14th, five days after my birthday, I can feel a bit bitter and alone like other single people.

But hate Valentine's Day? Never.

I love the day even if I haven't gotten to partake in it's festivities to the fullest yet. I may feel numb and sad but not angry or thinking I'll never find love; I've found it before and I'll find it again. Do I wish I had someone with which to spend yesterday, especially yesterday night? Guilty. And yet in the end I'm a) used to being alone on V-Day and b) remember the excitement of the holiday at my old job.

I may have mentioned before I worked at a Hallmark and Variety store for three years, 15-18, and during school breaks practically worked full time. I would work most school nights and was given a lot of responsibility due to my work ethic regardless of my young age. I worked at the old-fashioned candy counter and was the "candy girl" (the girl after me was the "New Molly" which felt pretty awesome) and I had regular customers who knew my schedule.

Christmas time was always the most stressful, obviously, but what few realize is that Christmas products come in to the store in July and we are working with them for those next five months. Hey, we wouldn't need to get the stuff in so soon if we didn't have such a high demand. People complain about how quickly or slowly we get our products out either way, so I had to learn to calm down the little old ladies who wanted to know where the fuck that Snoopy ornament was located.

We got about a week lull period between Christmas and Valentine's Day. The best/busiest time for the latter season (and most entertaining) was two days before. Boyfriends, fiances, and husbands young and old would shop with their gals at Winkie's Hallmark and Variety Store. The females would bring merchandise up to the counter and tell me to lead her man toward these things when he couldn't figure out what to do.

For some reason, the women never had any faith in their significant others' decisions and expected insecurity. The men though would surprise me every time. The guy would bring up two or three cards and explain to me as he thought out loud why each card would mean a lot to his gal. He would search through the candy tirelessly, trying to decide what would please her the most.

At the checkout after about thirty minutes or so, the male would look me in the eye and ask pleadingly, "Do you think she'll like it? Would you like it?" I'd smile every time, "She'll love it." Rarely did I have to lead the man to certain items but the man rarely picked what the woman chose for herself. Were there women upset on Valentine's Day? Perhaps, but I never heard any complaints.

He would act nonchalant when his girl returned and grab his bag carelessly as though this whole love day was no biggie...but I knew better. His goal was to please her, yes, but a lot of love and consideration went into his choices even if they seemed silly out of context. I could see how much each man cared from teen to eighty year old.

The customers--usually the middle-aged women I'd known in town since I was five or so--would ask me constantly who my Valentine was that year. It stung to have to say there wasn't one, but the affection I saw in that store made me smile. My customers made me happy.

Even though I've always been alone on Valentine's Day, I try not to dwell on it for long. Deep down I know it'll happen eventually and I know it will mean the world to me when it does. Cards are very special to me as I explained before and I'm excited to get my first legit Valentine someday. Maybe next year, or maybe the next, but soon.

Valentine's Day isn't some silly Hallmark holiday and granted, I was payed for three years to say that shit, but it's true. We did make up a bunch of holidays (Secretary's Day, Sweetheart Day, Grandparents Day, etc.) but this one was simply very marketable. So next year when you buy a valentine for the one you love, remember that Hallmark employee wants you to find that perfect item. We love the holiday and the joy we get to bring to others.

Maybe I'll go visit Winkie's when I go back to Wisconsin over spring break.

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