List of Retail Customers

Not too long ago, I was all sappy about my job. I posted that just as I was going on vacation. In honor of my going on my first real vacation in quite a long time, I composed this list of all the people  I wouldn’t miss.

While a lot of this is specific to my shipping store, I think it’s broad enough to encompass most retail workers.

  1. People who hate me.
  2. People who think I’m evil.
  3. People who think I’m lying.
  4. People who think I can’t spell “shallow”.
  5. People who think I can’t spell “Smith”.
  6. People who think I have kids [KIDS LIKE MULTIPLE, I’M 21 FOR FORENSIC’S SAKE]
  7. People who are too old to function.
  8. People who don’t listen.
  9. People who can’t listen.
  10. People who get angry when they realize they weren’t listening.
  11. People who don’t follow simple instructions.
  12. People who think I make the prices.
  13. People who yell at me.
  14. People who tell me their life stories when I am trying to finish something.
  15. People who tell me their life stories when I have a line of six people behind them.
  16. People who are cheap.
  17. People who pay more for shipping than the item(s) they are shipping.
  18. People who think they can drive to their destination [California] for less than the price of shipping [$15].
  19. People who mumble.
  20. People who don’t speak any language known on this earth.
  21. People who make the effort to come into the store, but then don’t know what they want.
  22. People who call me.
  23. People who call me and expect to get priority over people who have come in.
  24. People who call me and don’t know the weight, destination, or measurements of something they want an estimate on.
  25. People who bring packages over 70 pounds and watch me while I try to maneuver it by myself.
  26. People who cancel their transactions after I’ve spent a good chunk of time working on them.
  27. People who can’t make copies.
  28. People who won’t learn to make copies.
  29. People who don’t care that all you need to do to learn to make copies is put them in the feeder and press the green button that says, “Start.”
  30. People who think I’m a kid who doesn’t care about my future and wants to work retail for the rest of my life.
  31. People who are surprised when I tell them that I am a full-time student at a pretty good college.
  32. People who are extra surprised to find that I can read both letters and numbers.
  33. People who want free things.
  34. People who expect free things.
  35. People who throw things when they don’t get what they want.
  36. People who throw things at me when they don’t get what they want.
  37. People who complain about paying 65 cents to mail something.
  38. People who complain about the government.
  39. People who complain about the president.
  40. People who get irritated when I don’t talk politics.
  41. People who try to sell me things.
  42. People who ask me if I’m the owner.
  43. People who think their six-figure corporate job entitles them the world.
  44. People who lie to me.
  45. People who tell other people how to lie and cheat their way into illegally shipping things.
  46. People who listen to the people that tell people to lie and cheat their way into illegally shipping things.
  47. People who get angry when I catch them attempting to lie and cheat their way into illegally shipping things.
  48. People who get angry when I refuse to be an accessory to a crime.
  49. People who tell me they’re going to Fedex because they think I’ll care.
  50. People who inform me that the Post Office is cheaper.
  51. People who expect me to counter-offer when they tell me the Post Office is cheaper.
  52. People who yell at me because the Post Office lost their package and they didn’t get a tracking number because the Post Office was cheaper.
  53. People who say, “I think it’s cheaper at the Post Office,” then leave, go to the Post Office, find out it’s cheaper, and then DRIVE BACK to my store just to walk in and tell me their package was cheaper at the Post Office.
  54. People who undercut my authority.
  55. People who think I’m a lawyer and can therefore comprehend and explain to them their legal documents.
  56. People who are creepy and tell stupid jokes.
  57. People who get angry that I don’t laugh at their stupid jokes.
  58. People who still expect that I have a sense of humor after spending years dealing with people like them.
  59. People who cut in line because they are “in a hurry.”
  60. People who want to do things that don’t matter when they are “in a hurry”.
  61. People who get outraged that their transaction will take approximately five minutes to complete.
  62. People who are on their cellphones.
  63. People who won’t get off their cellphones even when it’s their turn.
  64. People who expect me to wait on them while they’re on their cellphone, even if I have other people I can help.
  65. People who have finished their transactions but won’t leave because they haven’t finished their call.
  66. People who use my store as an office and stay for over an hour.
  67. People who wink at me in a conspiratorial manner–I don’t care who you are, that’s creepy.
  68. People who are misogynists.
  69. People who refer to me as “that little girl.”
  70. People who tell me, “You must be new”. [three year anniversary is in July]
  71. People who interrupt me with a question, even though they have just interrupted the answer to their question.
  72. People who won’t say anything to me other than, “Cheap!”
  73. People who continue to repeat the word, “Cheap!” even when I ask them questions.
  74. People who steal my good pens.
  75. People who steal my bad pens. [Why?]
  76. People who are having a bad day.
  77. People who park in the fire lane.
  78. People who are upset that they got caught parking in the fire lane.
  79. People who don’t control their kids.
  80. People who think that the giant bucket of mail I just got from the post office lady will be distributed within a minute of my getting it.
  81. People who walk into my store.

How to Make a Ramona Flowers Subspace Purse (if you know nothing about making Purses) – Part Two!

Part Two!

Ready for Part Two? Preparation is over. It’s time to get your hands dirty (that is, poked and abused by pins).

[Are you confused? Click here.]

Putting it Together

We used two layers of fabric for the middle section, so we stuck the cardboard between those two layers.

The purse, when all is said and done, is entirely too floppy to function. I lined everything with thin cardboard off boxes of envelopes from the Office Depot–they have roughly the same thickness of two pieces of poster board together. I cut out two circles of ten inches in diameter, two strips of 2″x16″, two trips of 2″x4″, and one strip of 4″x16″. I stick them in the purse between the lining and the duck cloth. I put in the circular cardboard bits after most of the things were stitched up. Since you have to sew up everything from the outside, turning it right side out is very very difficult with the bits of cardboard in them. I leave about three inches open, roll up the cardboard, shove it into the thing, unroll it and flatten it up. The cardboard around the middle can be put in ahead of time as you’re sewing it up.

We’re going to move on by doing the middle section to the front. This is a bit complicated, so get your focus pants on. I’ll wait.

Ready? Put your layers in this order:

  1. Lining for the middle
  2. The middle (duck canvas)
  3. The piping
  4. The Front (duck canvas)
  5. Lining for the front.

Before you pin, I would cut the middle portion in half, as where the top and bottom come together, we’re going to insert the tiny bits for the strap.

Now, pin all this nonsense together; everything should be this weird cylindrical shape with the pins showing on the lining side. You’ll have to trim the piping. I did not do this very neatly, but essentially, you cut the piping to almost where you need it, and then fold one part on top of the other, removing some of the cotton part in the middle, and then just go ahead and sew all those pieces together so you have a complete circle to work with.

I found it easiest to pin the lining to the front circle, so as to ensure they wouldn’t come unmatched.

This is what it should look like from the outside. But remember to always work from the inside of the purse.

For the part where the two edges meet, just make sure your circle measures to about where you want it, and then pin the edges together–all that extra space we left at the end is for this purpose.

You can begin to sew at this point. Get as close to the piping as you can–definitely check at all points that you are sewing all five layers together. The piping is teeny tiny, so it’s hard to tell whether or not you’re getting it. I’m sure this is all going to be pretty simple to run through the sewing machine. So I did it all by hand. Yep. I know. I’m a nutter. There isn’t a bit of this that I did by hand.

If you're sewing close enough to the piping, the outside of your purse should look like this.

This is definitely not a couple-hour task, sports fans, so be wary. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to give up and just try to get that purse on Etsy. But with perseverance and good company, I survived getting my fingers pricked at least four dozen times and sewed the whole damn thing together. I felt like I actually accomplished something… that is, until I realized that I had just spent about four hours hand sewing the purse and I wasn’t even half way done. Fun stuff!

An outside view of the strap holder.

When you’ve got it all sewn up together, it kind of looks like a lemon. You should have two flaps on either side where the two portions come together. Don’t have stitched this together yet. You’ll need to insert the portion for the strap in there, halfway in the fabric. I took a bit of the fabric I had set aside for the strap and used this. I folded it in half, folding in the sides as well to create smooth edges on both sides. The whole strip ended up being 1.5″x5″, which I then folded over, inserted the strap metal thing, and pinned into the fabric. Sew all of this together with a little portion of the strap fabric sticking out. I sewed all of this about three times round because I didn’t want any part of it falling apart.

This was a pain in the neck.

When it comes to putting the zipper on the top, I saw one of two ways of doing it, and I’m not sure which one is more effective. What I did was attach it after the two pieces were connected. I figured it would be easier to judge the middle of the half-circle if I already had it pieced together. Before you set about sewing the zipper in, slide in the pieces of cardboard you’ve got cut out. I measured the zipper portions to just about 2×16″, but you’ll have to eyeball it. Those cover the long way, and then I have the 2×4″ pieces to fit perpendicularly up by the strap area. These will help tremendously keeping the purse from sagging. I cut out a line down the middle of the fabric and lining, about 12 inches in length. At the edges, I cut perpendicular lines, less than half an inch across, so when I folded the two sections over, it left a small opening to attach the zipper to. Stitch that up from the bottom, so’s all the thread bottoms are in the inside of the purse. I go around the whole thing twice, just for extra reinforcement.


Then I attached the back of the purse to the middle. We put a zipper and pocket in the back. I attached the fabric to the zipper first before sewing the pocket together. For the pocket, we just folded the fabric lining in two and sewed the edges together. The lining will go over the pocket, which will be attached when the whole thing gets sewn to the middle bit of the purse. I used blue thread because I thought the contrast would look cool on the nugrey. I considered doing it for the whole thing, but I forgot after a while, so that’s the only bit I did blue.

When attaching the remaining outer pieces together, follow the exact procedures as the front side. I used the embroidery circle to ensure that everything was keeping a circular shape. That is the hardest thing to keep up, this whole time. Be careful how you’re putting them together, because one time I accidentally pinned the back wrong, where the zipper was upside down. Not good.

Now you can turn your purse right side out, pulling the fabric through the zipper on the middle portion. Be careful not to bend any of the cardboard you’ve put in round the middle. Then I got to work on the strap.

The strap measures about 1.5″ in width, and the length varies based on what you had left from preparation. Mine was long enough to warrant a strap adjuster, but you can cut yours short enough to keep it just one length. One of the ends you loop around the strap holder and sew it together. The other end, you’re going to either do the same, or loop one end in the strap adjuster, from the top, moving down, looping into the strap holder, then back up to the strap adjuster, where you sew it around the middle ring.

So. Now that you’ve got everything turned right side out, fold back the purse and shove down that cardboard into the front and back circular panels and close up those holes.


Do you feel validated? ‘Cause I sure did!

Here’s some general things I’ve noticed:

  • Duck cloth attracts fuzzy stuff. You might look into different types of fabric, that is just as thick.
  • If you don’t fold over the fabric to cover the edges, the edges fray.
  • Sewing things by hand sucks, but five layers of fabric is probably difficult to go through with a sewing machine.
  • Lots of layers bend pins. Make sure you have plenty.
  • Find good things to watch on Netflix while you’re working! I recommend Doctor Who, Sports Night, and Parks and Rec. Those got me through some tough times.

Check this action shot!






Questions, comments, clarifications, concerns, wisecracks for the Guide? Hit the comments below.

Philosophical Wax from a Shipping Employee

So I work at a shipping store. And I don’t get the world’s greatest treatment from my customers or my superior. But right now, that’s immaterial.

I like my job. Or maybe I like the idea of my job.

There are probably a number of people who consider my job non-essential. I often count myself one of them. Nobody’s ever going to force you to ship something. There are about 7 different options to deliver something from Point A to Point B. I recognize that. The non-essential nature of my job [I say this in a very grand scale way, at the very end of time, are people going to look back and say, “Thank Joss we had shipping stores?”] is quite often why people complain about our prices. I can dig it. Shipping is expensive. But I challenge you to drive to California on only $14. Please do. Robert Downey Jr. couldn’t do it with or without Zach Galifianakis.

Maybe what excites me most is the fact that I get to use my imagination.

You have no. idea. the kinds of things people ship. It’s insane.

You get the regular business people who send businessy things. You get the regular online shoppers who won’t learn that home shopping network deals are too good to be true. You get the embarrassed guys who return Victoria’s Secret items for their ladyfriends (They actually disguise their company as VSM on the label, probably for the purpose of discretion. You can’t fool me).

Then you get people who send two foot by three foot tin sculpture of a flying pig. And people who send a package of bread rolls–just like regular grocery store bread rolls. People who send awards and photographs and newspaper clippings.

Point is, there’s a story in each of these items. For these particular examples, I know them.

A couple in Wisconsin purchased the pig online through someone’s Etsy store or antiques’n’things store or whatevs. This thing, it was HUGE. And kind of creepy. It was a little bit like a ‘found things’ sculpture. It was whimsical. And it took forever to package. I don’t know what the Wisconsinites were planning to do with it, but I secretly wish they would call me and let me know.

The bread roll lady was funny. Every year her whole family gathers up north for a big family Thanksgiving, and that year, she couldn’t make it. She would always be responsible for bringing the bread to dinner (that would probably be my contribution if my family ever did this…), so she was shipping a package of rolls she got from the grocery store next door just so her family would have a little piece of her at dinner.

Now I’m just getting sappy.

The point is.

Is there a point?

I think so. I get an insight into what people are like and what other people think other people would like. And that’s nice. I suppose I could just as easily ask people to tell me about themselves. But I like to involve my imagination. Besides. Fiction is always a little more fun than reality.