My first part time job exercised polishing skills that, I had learned at home. I was holding a fresh rag. With aplomb, the supervisor of the paper flower department was showing me how to clean the green Formica counter with a little application of oil on a white square of linen. She demonstrated how to make the surface gleam. This section extended about 12 feet in length. About fifty large vases in pastel colors sat on three tiers of wooden stands and held different varieties in complex hues.
Miss O’Toole lifted a red rose from its group and let me hold it for a closer look. The petals curled in a circlet. The formal blossom was held together with green tape that extended, to cover a long wire stem. There were over a dozen in the container. Miss O’Toole told me she hoped a buyer would purchase twelve roses at one time. It means that romance is in the air.
Each Saturday when I arrived at Kress’ “Five and Ten” in the middle of Manhattan, I collected the oiled rag and proceeded to complete my first task. I polished around each wooden stand so that the counter sparkled. I was careful to keep the stands erect and centered each vase on them. While I worked I was often in a trance. I was day dreaming about my boyfriend and roses in this forest of flowers. Often peaking between the dark blocks of wood, I could see the angel of the flowers checking up on me. She wanted me to be careful and she never greeted me until I had finished my first assignment.
When she saw that I was on the sales floor, she pointed out that the vessels needed to be filled. I knew the boxes that held the assorted flowers. I took a glance at the receptacles and picked from each carton, to fill our garden.
Selling was my favorite time, because I liked to talk up each blossom. I’d even inquire about the colors of the paints in my customers’ rooms. I stressed that a vase should look full. If I sensed a hesitation, I offered the idea of putting one blossom in a pretty pitcher.
After being a salesgirl in the flower department for months, I grew confident and tried to speed up on the polishing event. I wanted to be on the floor and sell. When I sold a bunch, I was elated.
One Saturday morning, I was tardy and rushed to retrieve my rag. While I was rubbing at a spot on the counter, my arm hit the side of a stand next to me and it fell to the right and took about four more vases with it.
Miss O’Toole was at the end of the counter and with wings, kept them from falling to the floor. I flew to her and she wrapped me in her large and soft bosom. I was in the center of two fully opened peonies. Each of these soft feathery petals molded into wings and talked forgiveness.