I’ve always hated working Sundays.
Sunday shoppers are the worst kind of shoppers. They putter. They waste time, sometimes they waste a whole five hours! They leave their half-sipped Starbucks on the floor. They wait outside the door, watching me as I try to avoid their gaze so we don’t lock eyes and I’m guilted into opening early. I rarely am. Let your sons pull on the locked doors all you want, but I won’t open until noon, which is when I’m required by schedule to let you in. The small minutes where I’m alone in the confines of a quiet, dark store are precious to me; it’s me and the clothes and we are all quiet, we don’t make any noise at first to disturb one another. I wake them up by opening the register drawer.
There’s a man in here right now and he ignores my hello. Perhaps he didn’t hear it, or maybe he’s not looking for any human interaction. Sundays can be that way, I know. I am reading, writing at the computer. I flick my eyes at him as he inspects the window. Someone put a mint green t-shirt in there to catch the eyes of passersby, but it wasn’t me. He’s not making eye contact with me. I halfheartedly watch him amble through the store, touching racks aimlessly, patting hangers, diving towards one and backing away from another.
People who shop here on Sundays aren’t looking for anything. There’s not on the mission of a Tuesday night after work or the rush of a lunch break, where maybe they spilled on their shirt and need a new one RIGHT NOW. Sunday shoppers are here to amble about, dragging their heels, chatting and wasting time. They’re sunburnt from their Saturday. They spent all day running errands yesterday, or working outside, but today with all this time to fill they’re bored and they want to slide hangers around on a rack. In the rare occurrence that I have a Sunday off, I never spend it shopping. Sundays are for sleeping in, lazing around all day. They’re not the day for new shirts and hours of painful jean shopping.
Sunday shoppers come in groups or they come alone. The groups come in buzzed off bottomless mimosas from the restaurant down the street. They’re dizzy with merriment and they’re loud. I don’t like that noise, not on a Sunday. The shoppers who come alone are moms freed of clinging children for awhile, escaping. They’re lonely people with no rings on their left hand or kids to trail behind them. I don’t want to talk to them and they don’t want to talk to me, but they don’t want to sit at home where it’s quiet, either. It’s nice to be around people sometimes, I know. When I feel lonely, I like to wander around the aisles of the thrift store and surround myself with other people’s castoff things.
The man in the back selects a shirt. He brings it up to me, a loud purple, orange and green plaid thing. “May I try this on? Can I just go back there?” He is looking at my mouth, which is painted very red. Men are always watching my mouth.
“Yes, help yourself. It’s all yours,” I say.
I watch him try it on. He buttons it over his green t-shirt. He is self-conscious about this, even though he’s now wearing sunglasses. He buttons it right up to his throat. And now he is preening a little in front of the mirror, smoothing wrinkles and turning this way and that. A hundred hands have touched this shirt, if not more. He takes it off, leaves it hanging unbuttoned on its hanger in the wrong place on the rack. He brings me another shirt, this one dark blue with sailboats on it. “Will this shrink? Does this run small?”
“Yes, if you dry it.”
“That’s all I needed to know.”
He places the shirt somewhere in the store – I don’t know, because I don’t care enough to go looking. He has put his sunglasses back on, and now he’s gone. He’s gone back into his Sunday, leaving me right back where I started mine.