As a teenage girl, I loved my job at a cute clothing store in the mall, except for inventory and pest removal day. Sure, most of my paycheck ended up going towards clothes that we sold in the store, but that was completely worth it to me! I got a great employee discount, and my money would have been spent on clothes, anyway.
The very worst part of the job was inventory. Every few months, we had to go in extremely early on a Saturday morning so we could check off every item the store owned, clear out shelves to prepare them for the next line of clothes to arrive, and clean out the storage room. It was a long day, boring, and full of hard work. And the storage room was awful.
The room was windowless, lit with bluish fluorescent lights, and packed with boxes, unused hangers, clothing racks and dusty shelves. We called it the dungeon. Over the previous months, we used it as a dumping ground for whatever we didn’t want to take care of during our normal shifts, and inventory day was payback. We sorted, we cleaned, and we were always on the lookout for spiders, bugs, or worse, mice or rats. Pest Removal just wasn’t included on the job description when we’d applied as sales associates. But, there we were, mouse traps, rat poison, and fly swatters close by as we sorted, folded, and discarded everything that had been tossed into the dungeon. Once the place was cleaned up, we’d set out the rat poison near suspected rat holes and place a couple of mouse traps in the corners of the room, just to be on the safe side.
Of course, we always had to give the new girls a bad time. In the days leading up to inventory, we’d tell them horror stories of a mouse that ran over someone’s foot, or the biggest spider we’d ever seen. Inventory Day, we’d rig it up so plastic rats would be pulled across the floor with a string, or throw a toy spider into someone’s hair. Didn’t I mention that it was a long and boring day? We had to break it up somehow!
One Inventory Day, we all arrived, as usual, in our sweats and hair pulled back into ponytails, ready to get dusty, filthy and be bored to tears counting and sorting. We got our initial assignments from the store manager, and headed off to our respective jobs for the morning. I was unfortunate enough to get stuck in the storage room right away, bypassing the lesser evil of clearing off shelves in the front. I got ready to break down the empty boxes so I could stack them up and take them out to the dumpster, and grabbed a box from off the top of the pile. I pulled it towards me and pulled out the box cutter, just as I became aware of the awful rustling noise coming from inside the box. Startled, I dropped it on the floor, causing a couple of the flaps to fall up and out, giving me a great view of the box’s interior. To my disgust, it was filled with wriggling little pink bodies of mouse babies amongst shredded material and cardboard that served as their nest. My screams brought every girl into the back room, most of whom ran right back out as they realized what they were seeing. To this day, I can’t open an empty box without shuddering. Pest removal is something best left to the professionals, not a teenage girl working at a clothing shop.