I do quite like being employed. I like my students, I have a lot of control over what I teach and how it’s delivered, I rarely have to speak to any actual adults. But this semester was a little bit full on. 169 students, eight tutorials and two lectures a week, all for me. All because my boss has presumably watched too many Disney movies and is now following his dream instead of answering the phone in his office to deal with the slew of dying grandmothers that comes around every time an assignment is due. 169 students meant 169 assignments to mark, and after that was finished I had to lie down for a week, plus do thirty five loads of washing.
But now that I’ve recovered I have to scratch that craft itch and scratch it good. Have you heard of amigurumi? It’s little crocheted animals, most of which are ghastly, but I found a Star Wars book of it!
Chewie obviously needs another arm, and Yoda (or Yoda’s brother, the Horror insists, he tells me that is most certainly not Yoda) has to have some sleeves attached to his cardigan. I also done a business sock.
And, noting my frantic activity, the Moose put in an order for four monk’s costumes for him and mates to wear to Supanova, a weekend for nerds that is looking increasingly complex as it also happens to be a weekend with five soccer games, Rockfest and an Eisteddfod and all three kids plus self want to go. I’m not sure that praying for rain is an actual plan. But anyway, I needed twelve metres of some kind of heavy material to robe up the boyz.
My nearest Spotlight is at Birkenhead Point. I don’t know if you’ve been there lately. If you haven’t, don’t. Really. Unless you want to give yourself a migraine, or conniptions. Imagine that the Zombie Apocalypse decided that it wanted to make itself some nice curtains and a matching pouffe, and you’ve got Spotlight Birkenhead Point. I actually saw two shop assistants pull all of the ribbon onto the floor, put two back, and then go on a break. They didn’t come back for the entire hour that I was there, floundering through the oceans of sateen and fleece and stretch sequinned dance fabric, bumbling past the undead as they muttered things like “I’m sure this isn’t 8 ply” and “would it kill them even more to put a price on this?”. I went out empty handed, never to return.
But those monks’ robes weren’t going to make themselves, so I decided it was worth my while to trek out to the Spotlight at Rockdale. Oh the joy of being able to see the floor. And the bolts of fabric all on shelves! All pointing the same way! They even seem to be sorted into fabric types. I found my target very easily, I think it’s a double knit jersey. Ah. $16.99 a metre. I do love my Moose, and I think his friends are delightful, but are they that delightful? I don’t even want to do the multiplication. But what’s this? Another bolt of the same fabric in the same colour in the managers special shelf! Marked down to six dollars a metre!!! I’m not sure that there’s twelve metres there, but I haul it up to the cutting desk, accidentally picking up sundry balls of acrylic and some more double pointed needles just in case I’m a lot quicker at making that owl in the book plus the four pairs of socks that I’ve promised people than I thought I’d be.
I’m third in line at the cutting desk. The older lady behind the desk does seem to be taking her time. She also seems to be a little slapdash, each metre that she cuts looks like it has a generous border to it. She is being very nice to the young lady buying the fabric, chatting to her little girl who is very close to losing it. As am I, I should have timed her. Twenty minutes, I’m pretty sure, is how long it took, with price checking, discussion of how lovely the fabric was, in how many pieces did she want it, how old the little girl was. By the time she was finished the line behind me had about seven silently fuming women in it. The man in front of me just wanted two metres of zipper (I didn’t know you could buy it buy the metre! There seemed to be a little zipper head about every fifty centimetres).
“Do you have a Spotlight card?”, she asked. Do I look like the kind of person who’d have a Spotlight card? Of course I do, and I already had it out. And my cloth bag. “Oh, aren’t you lovely,” she said. One does one’s best. “I don’t think there’s twelve metres here, but there’s another bolt…”, “would you mind grabbing it?”, “Not at all,” I said as I sped off and sped back again. “You are a love,”she said. “Long morning?” I asked, giving her something to chat about as she painstakingly measure out my metreage. “Oh!”, she began. I knew it. “I’m just here to do the balloons, and Irene’s just disappeared, and I don’t know where Sylvia has gone, she’s supposed to do the cutting, so they can’t blame me if I don’t get the measurements right, I’m just the balloon lady! I’ve got an order that I need to do, IRENE TO THE SERVICE COUNTER, and I’ll show them what happens when you get the balloon lady to do Irene’s job. This was on sale? Well, end of year special, everything is half price,” as she jabbed at the cash register causing me to regret I hadn’t also picked up several yards of velvet and an overlocker. “They only have themselves to blame, I’m just helping out, IRENE TO THE SERVICE COUNTER, what do they expect? I’m sorry if I’ve been a bit haphazard”. “Not at all, it’s been a real treat” I assured her.
So I can’t tell you what I got this for, not in writing anyway, because I don’t want to get her fired.
But what I’ve learned today is that if your business requires someone to cut material and charge for it appropriately, don’t ask a one eyed balloon lady to do it. I think there’s a lesson in that for all of us.