Monday, February 13, 2012

The War of the Roses... Or, My Funny Valentine

I'm working at a flower shop during the Valentine's Day season.  As I wrote back in October, I quit my job because of stress.  I have an idea of what I want to do next, but I have bills to pay while I hatch my next project.  My super talented sister has been a florist most of her life and helped me get a job at the shop she works at.  While the shop normally employs eleven people, they increase their Valentine's Day staff to about 50 people.

My idea was that I would take orders over the phone, help customers in person and maybe dust a few shelves.  I had no idea I would work as hard as I have been and I am exhausted.  I haul buckets full of flowers, I mop, I sweep the floor...and sweep...and sweep.  I have taped more boxes (for deliveries) than I care to count and basically help the flower designers in any way I can.  I enjoy the job - I work with really cool people and I am thankful to have a job.  There will be approximately 900 deliveries on Valentine's Day with an additional 300 people who will walk-in to the shop.  We also have the capability to wire flowers all over the country.

It goes without saying that Valentine's Day puts a lot of pressure on couples and single people alike.  Single people are reminded exactly how single they are and couples are forced to create romance and for many, they create it by spending a lot of money on flowers.  Because growers hike up prices, shops are forced to increase the price of roses.  A dozen of roses costs $64.99, plus a $10.95 delivery fee.  People can call in orders and I am the person on the other end of the phone, receiving those orders, running credit cards and dealing with some of the craziest people on God's green earth.

On Saturday, a man wanted to haggle with me on half a dozen of roses.  He literally made me an offer of what he was willing to pay and wanted to argue with me when I wouldn't compromise with him.  Another woman made me go through the entire process of taking her order and when she found out there was a delivery fee, she hung up on me.  Okay, fine, those kind of quirks are to be expected then there are the doozies.

One man came in with his assistant.  He wanted to buy a single rose for each of his employees and a special arrangement for his secretary.  His assistant reminded me of the uptight assistant we see in movies who is secretly in love with her boss, while he has the hots for the spicy young secretary.  They got into an argument at the counter while I was trying to place his order.  She kept telling me not to place the order and he kept insisting I place it.  I finally asked who had the credit card (he did) and that settled the argument.  I imagine a secretary is going to be quite pleased on Tuesday.

Another man ordered a dozen roses for his wife.  I misheard him and thought he was ordering half a dozen.  "Are you trying to get me killed?" he asked.  When I helped him with the wording for the card, he said "wow, you should do this for a living.  Seriously, you should be a poet or something."  Another man spent over $200 on roses, balloons and chocolates and called to change the message on his card three times.  I have taken dozens of "guilt" orders - cards that say "sorry I can't be with you today, I miss you."  The coolest order so far has been a man who ordered "Morticia Roses" for his girlfriend because she is a huge Addam's Family fan - rather than roses, he ordered stems with thorns with the heads cut off.

Morticia Roses 

There was an order placed by a dominatrix for her "pet;" a woman who wanted us to deliver three carnations to her five year old granddaughter (we have a minimum order cost of $35 for delivery) and a few customers have ordered huge arrangements because they want their partner's co-workers to be jealous.  The ones who creep me out are the "anonymous" senders - they don't want to sign the card.  Every time I get one of those orders, the word "STALKER" screams in my head (I know, that's completely judgmental, but it's how I think).

I'm not much for flowers.  I've never really enjoyed receiving them at work and roses aren't my favorite flower.  If I had to choose, I would say brightly colored Gerbera daisies are my favorite although lately, I've been eyeing red calla lilies.  To be quite honest, I would rather receive a bouquet of books and music or really cool, funky earrings.  This year, I'll be working on Valentine's Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  I think my Valentine's night will consist of a cup of coffee or perhaps a beer - and it will be completely romantic because it isn't so much the location as much as it is the company that creates romance.  It doesn't matter if we're sitting at Denny's - as long as I am with the person who puts a smile on my face then Valentine's Day will be amazing - as is any other day that I'm with him.

The sweetest Valentine's Day order I've taken is from a man who will be celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary this year and took great pride in picking out a unique arrangement for his wife.  "It's our 50th wedding anniversary," he told me, "I need to do something special especially because I'm spending most of the day singing with my barbershop quartet and I won't see her until the late afternoon."  I took a peek at the card he wrote and it said "Thanks for 50 wonderful Valentine's Days.  I love you."

If that isn't romance, I don't know what is.

Next time: The Winter of My Discontent 

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