Selling Flowers At the Liquor Mart
I was sixteen years old and this was my summer job, selling roses outside the liquor store. A lot of the girls that did this seemed seedy, or trashy. Most of them were full of tattoos and wearing skimpy clothes in hopes of selling more flowers I suppose. At this time I was going through my want to be a hippy phase except I showered, wore make up and was clean and smelled good. The only thing really hippy-ish was that I wore nice, long and colorful skirts. I looked the part, like a flower child.
I dealt with many, many people especially on paydays. I watched and studied people's behaviors and tried to figure out if they were alcoholics or just partying or celebrating. I met many nice people and many bad people.
I got paid only $3.50 per hour. My boss Antonio who was an Italian, balding man that was in the middle of a messy divorce with his wife. Their business was split down the middle. Antonio had girls one side of the city and Maria had them on other. They also owned a flower shop. They purchased the fresh roses from California. Antonio was always nice to me. He said that I had the best sales in all of our city. He thought it was because I dressed nice, whatever the reason was, I was happy because I made a lot of tips.
My method was simple. When people were on their way into the liquor store I would ask them, " Would you like to buy a rose?", the answers were all different. If someone would say, "What do I need a rose for?", I would answer, "Well, you could wear it in your hair". I said this to a bald man and he laughed, on his way out he bought a rose. You see people changed after they had that bottle liquour in there hand. Another time I asked someone ," Would you like to buy a rose"?, they answered, "Who am I going to buy a rose for?" I said you could buy one for me", in a sweet, feel sorry for me voice. On their way out they bought one for me. Which I just resold and pocketed the money. I developed all kinds of ways of selling and tried to read what kind of line would work for what person. It was kind of fun.
One real hot sunny day. A real live hippy came and started playing guitar right beside me. He opened his case, pulled out his guitar and started playing and singing. People were throwing some money in too. We got to talking, his name was Jeff and he was hitchhiking across Canada. He wrote nice poetry and he seemed really wise. I showed him some of my poetry too. I sometimes used to think he was an angel. He wrote and sang songs about me selling flowers. I wasn't attracted to him in any other way because he was old in my eyes. But I really liked him and enjoyed the company or protection.
One time there were some people who got denied alcohol so they started drinking Aqua Velva aftershave. They were all huddled together between the buildings and not even ashamed. It was sad to witness this addiction to alcohol. Another time when Jeff wasn't around one sniffer who was high on glue tried swinging at me. Thank God glue makes people move in slow motion because I could have ducked out of the way ten times. I saw many homeless people too. Another day I got robbed, my stupidity though. Someone who seemed really nice said they didn't mind watching my roses while a ran only maybe forty feet away to buy a drink at the convenience store. I left the money envelope in the box and when I returned the money was gone and so was the person. Antonio wasn't happy.
One really neat thing was all the cab drivers got to know me and my friend Carly and I had free rides whenever we were downtown. This one time I was so hungry and I wanted to go home to eat so I took the whole bucket of roses home in a cab, ate and came back. I guess one of Antonio's spies noticed that I wasn't there because he confronted me on it. I don't remember what lame excuse I gave him even though I was only gone for maybe forty-five minutes.
I had met so many people got invited to a few parties. I also got invited to the large church nearby which I eventually started attending one and half years later. When I am downtown driving by my location I still have fond memories and can hear myself asking, "Would you like to buy a rose"?