I work in a retail environment, a department store. I know the atmosphere has changed over time, just as consumer travel has changed.
There was a time when people dressed up to travel and shop. Both activities seemed more prestigious. If you watch any old show or film, the characters were usually dressed impeccably. Men wore hats, women wore hats and gloves. Accessories weren't tacky or dated. There seemed to be an order to things. As if work and home life were stable enough to present ourselves as "together" in more ways than one.
I am sitting in a department store that is empty but for the employees and a few customers. There has been a pallor on the face of retail. The coordinated lips and nails are gone. Fancy brooches and rhinestone clip on earrings have been shed. The atmosphere is dull except for the occasional frivolous shopper. Luxury for the mainstream has been substituted with fancy phones and active wear.
Two things have made me contemplate this. One, the possibility of my store closing due to bankruptcy, the second, two films I recently watched again. I usually watch a film I like numerous times, so, I have given thought to the aura of the films, not only the main plot. Tonight, I focus on the characters of both films, "The Danish Girl" and "Carol".
If you haven't seen these films, "The Danish Girl" is about the first man to attempt sex reassignment. "Carol" is the story of a woman acknowledging her sexuality. What on earth could these characters have to do with retail? Only I would make a connection. lol In "The Danish Girl", after living as a female, she takes a job in a department store and she glows with excitement. Her smile is electric. Her supervisor is very respectful and her statement "we are all performers" as if in a great play, to provide the ultimate shopping experience. In "Carol" the female character is shown in the same retail environment, but the experience if far from magical. Her supervisor is a cold, negative character and the position of store clerk is a hair above garbage left blowing across a New York City sidewalk. Is the vast difference because one character wants to fit in and be accepted, accepting the stereotype that goes with it, while the other feels she doesn't fit in, she has other aspirations?
Do we feel like garbage in our jobs because we aren't fulfilled elsewhere? Are we longing to play a role, to have at work what we don't have at home? In the end, I think we all take on roles in order to survive.
"we are all performers".