FROM THE EDITOR ELEANOR BLACK
Hen I was in my 20s, I worked sporadically in retail. My most interesting gig was at Harrods’ perfume hall, where I was tasked with spraying passers-by with various scents.
I wore a dowdy sailor-girl outfit to promote Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male and a crushed purple sheath to sell what was billed as the most expensive perfume in the world. The Sacred Tears of Thebes came in a Baccarat crystal pyramid-shaped bottle and smelled, to my fatigued nose, like rotten oranges and cloves.
The purple dress was the worst part – unflattering, itchy, demoralising – although I counted myself lucky. My friend Kate had to wear Ferrari gear and spurn advances from middle-aged men with car fetishes.
I was a lacklustre saleswoman. I always figured if someone wanted the product, they’d buy it. No amount of pestering would make a difference. So I spent my time celebrity spotting (Tia Carrere, Gary Rhodes, Rebecca De Mornay; hey, it was the 90s) and walking circles around my “Egyptian” display like a zoo animal.
I was wrong about one thing. Service makes a huge difference. People who are having a good time in a shop or restaurant spend more money. The ability to deliver customers the exact thing they didn’t know they wanted is a valuable skill, and novelist Kelly Ana Morey (‘Waiting around’, page 11) has it.
Book-writing doesn’t pay that well in New Zealand, so in lean times, Morey returns to waitressing, to “carry fancy food, pour wine and put on a face and a little bit of a show”. And then, bank balance sorted, she writes another wonderful book. Win-win.
CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE