26 July 2012

The Spice Merchant's Apprentice

July 24th, 2012. 8:21 PM. The fatigue of honest effort drives the typing.

A funny thing happened to me today after I arose from bed and made myself presentable to the world.

I put in a full work day today. Actual job-type work. It was enlightening. Enjoyable, even.

I know, I am as surprised as you are, if not more so. To be sure, it isn't full-time. It isn't in architecture or construction. It isn't in a field for which I have any real experience and certainly no training. In fact, it is a line of work in which I ever pictured myself engaged. Those of you know me well enough would know why.

It is in retail. Specifically, a store* that sells herbs, spices and seasonings as their raison d'etre. I like to think of it as, for lack of a better description, an apprentice spice merchant. Did I mention it is retail?

Shocked? I'm still a little stunned myself.

I fell into it by happenstance. I was up to my neck in a job search related to my architecture credentials, and as my mind was wont to do, it flitted off on a tangent regarding a seasoning I was out of at home. My crow-mind couldn't resist going after that mental shiny thing, so I went the company website to look it up. I am fortunate that there is a local outlet of the company near to my house, so I knew it would be easy to get there and get what I needed.

So I'm looking over the page and I notice they have a "Careers" tab. I thought "What the heck?" and I clicked on it to scroll down the list. Lo and behold, the local store was in need of a part-time staffer. I stared at the ad for a few moments, for a split-second thinking I should do it, then clicked away. Me, retail? The thought boggled the mind.

But it kept nagging at me. The idea wouldn't let me go. I considered my position, the long search I've been on and still...nothing.** I thought about all the time I've spent staring out the window after my job hunt activities have burned out for the day. I considered that it would nice to have something constructive to do, earn a little money, while I am slowly stitching my professional life back together.

I considered that I like spices. I like using them. I like reading about them, smelling them, and especially eating them. Somehow that overrode all my anxieties and misgivings about selling things and interacting with the general public on a regular basis. Again, anyone who knows me knows that sort of thing gives me a case of the yammering fantods just thinking about it. It is so far outside my comfort zone as to be in another galaxy.

So what did I do? I dropped off an application. Then I hyperventilated into a paper bag.

I had two interviews, one with the corporate office, one with the store manager. The whole time I felt like I was standing a few feet away from myself, wondering "Who is this man?". I had a hard time believing I was going through with it. This is not something I've done before. There would be things to learn.

So, as it turns out, they really liked me, I liked them, so when they offered, I said yes. Then I hyperventilated into a paper bag.*** The result is that today was my first day on in the spice biz.

I have to say it ended up being much more enjoyable than I could have imagined. It was a slow day, according to the manager and the co-worker with me, so I know it won't always be so pleasant. Aside from the slight awkwardness I felt (and always feel in similar situations) when warming up to the customers and new tasks, I daresay I even enjoyed it. And for the third time, those who know me I have some issues when it comes to dealing with a stream of people all day long. But you know what? I exceeded my expectations. That felt pretty darn good.

So there you have it, dear readers. Another step on the path, where it is headed I don't have a clear idea. For now, though, I'll keep on walking and see what turns up. You never know until you try, right?


*It is a spice company with stores nationwide, about 70 or so, I think. I may have mentioned them in past posts, but in regards to naming names, I'm a little unsure what journalistic protocols might apply now that I am an employee.
**To be accurate, the job climate in architecture has started to pick up a little around my region. It is still a slow awakening, and things are not moving very fast. There have been nibbles. But that is a post for another time...
***Okay, so I didn't hyperventilate into a paper bag. But I did put my head down between my knees and take long, slow breaths for a minute or two.


  1. I know exactly wo you are working for... Congrats on getting this new and surprising (to you) job! I'm sure you will be wonderful.

    And excuse the wo/who typo. Would have to retype the whole comment to fix. Meh to that.

  2. Well, this is Irish Gumbo, and lawd knows there's spices in Gumbo...

    So, best of luck Spice Merchant!

  3. How exotic and wonderful: a Spice Merchant!

    You never know what might happen when you step into another galaxy...

  4. Well, I live in a place where one is more likely to find a bait store than a spice store, so I don't know what it could be....but it sounds wonderful. I stopped for a moment, closed my eyes, and imagined how it must smell. Congratulations.

  5. well done you! sometimes we really do need to step outside of ourselves and see what happens, sugar. *cheers* xoxoxoxoxox


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