When people used to ask what I did for a living, it was easy to say “editor” or “teacher.” These simple one word answers gave a stranger a pre-concocted image that triggered “good job” in his/her brain. It always elicited a satisfactory reaction.
Now I work in vintage. I sell vintage home decor and fashion accessories. It always needs explaining. It always feels like pulling teeth to get that satisfactory nod. Today I was wishing I was back in editing.
A woman at the dog park struck up a conversation, asked me what I did, so I told her.
“Vintage…” she said, muddling it over.
“Yes, vintage–home decor, fashion accessories–scarves, shoes, luggage, purses.”
I told her it was all on-line. Another frown.
So, I told her about the fabulous pink typewriter I just sold, how wonderful it was, how excited the new owner was to get it. How happy it made me.
This woman had a smart phone, so I showed her the typewriter, and my shop.
She scrolled around and pointed to a Vera scarf. “So…you only have ONE of this?”
“Yes,” I said. “It’s vintage. I only have one of that scarf. But I have other scarfs.”
“But only one of this one?”
“Yep,” I said. “just one…” (I breathed in deeply and smiled. I’m not Nordstrom, lady.)
She continued looking. “The only things I like are sold,” she said. “Do you have anything else?”
“I have other sections,” I showed her. “Vintage shoes–and shoes for men too. Purses and suitcases…”
“It doesn’t look very old. How can it be vintage?” she asked, frowning.
“Well, oddly, on this site, Etsy, vintage is only twenty years old, so the 80s are now vintage.” I smiled and laughed a bit. “But if you’re young and weren’t around in the 80s it’s fun and new to you.”
“the 80s? So all your stuff is…USED? It looks so new…”
If she hadn’t looked so utterly confused when she said this, I would have thought it was a backhanded compliment. Obviously, she didn’t get it. Or, I didn’t get how to explain this better. All in all, I wanted to leave. Or for her to leave. This chit-chat with people stuff is tricky business.
I’ve got to come up with a better answer, one that won’t cause so many questions or confusion, one that will get rid of that frown, stop anyone dead and leave them with a mild smile, a sense of satisfaction that I answered correctly, no explaining necessary.
If you find out what that is please, let me know. Meanwhile, I’ll be hanging out with Zephyr. The dog doesn’t care what I do or how I do it. The only thing he wants to know is, when is dinner?