Since returning to Roehampton from Kelowna, Rosalyn had spent what she felt was an inordinate amount of time job searching. It was proving to be incredibly difficult. She had started to apply to almost every available job she came across. It was disheartening, to say the least. She couldn’t even get receptionist positions because people had been trained in college programs to be administrative personnel. One of the jobs had literally just been to answer phones at a library, but Rosalyn hadn’t gotten the job because she didn’t have the proper training. Rosalyn wasn’t exactly sure she needed to be trained on how to answer a phone.
She bemoaned her unemployment to her best friends Doug, who had come back from Kelowna with her, and Britt while visiting Tallulah at work one evening. Tallulah was sitting behind the front counter of the record store next to her surly friend Finch. Rosalyn had met him once before and he had been just as terrifying then. Britt kept shooting him wary looks, but it was hard to tell if it was out of fear or romantic interest. It was possibly both. Britt was, as Tallulah so graciously phrased it, desperate as hell.
“Trying to find a job is exhausting,” she complained to her friends. “I’m trained for nothing and nobody wants me.”
“I know,” Doug agreed, sounding just as downtrodden, which annoyed her.
“At least you have a job,” Rosalyn protested loudly to Doug, who shot her a withering look, as if he couldn’t believe she would even dare say such a thing to him.
“Oh yes, I, as my father’s personal assistant, am living the dream,” he returned with an almost impressive amount of sarcasm. Britt had begun batting her eyelashes at Finch, thereby effectively proving that it was romantic interest. For his part, Finch either hadn’t noticed or didn’t care at all, though Rosalyn was sure if Finch had noticed, he definitely wouldn’t care.
“You have your whole life ahead of you,” Britt told her, still looking at Finch. “Don’t wish away your time.”
It was annoying. Rosalyn ignored her.
Two weeks later, Rosalyn finally managed to get herself a job. She was hired as a sales associate at an outdoor sporting equipment store, which basically meant that she stood on the vast floor and sold tents to people who thought camping was fun. Despite having lived in one of the most beautiful cities in the country, a place where outdoor activities were revered, Rosalyn was the least outdoorsy person she knew, aside from Tallulah. While she’d been in Kelowna, she had done all the outdoorsy things. She had hiked, biked, paddleboarded, swum. This was primarily down to the fact that those were just the things you did while you lived in Kelowna. It also had a lot to do with the weather. It was a very dry climate. There was barely any humidity at all so it was warm, but not stifling or unbearable. There also weren’t any bugs. Hiking in Ontario was half laboured breathing and excessive sweating and half Lyme West Nile.
In her interview for the job, Rosalyn had really talked up her experience in Kelowna. She was desperate. She needed a job so that she could continue living in her apartment and not at her family home with her parents where her mother asked her eight thousand questions about her life on a daily basis and folded her underwear. She definitely made it sound like she was more experienced with things like portaging than she actually was. Rosalyn had never been portaging in her life and she never would. It sounded like a special kind of hell reserved for people who had somehow managed to convince themselves that carrying a canoe through mud only to get back in it and row for a million years was fun.
She was placed on the section of the floor that dealt specifically with water sports. Rosalyn had to sell waterskis and kayaks. One man asked her to explain the different kayaks they had for sale in explicit detail so that he could choose the best one for cold climates. He smelled strongly of hemp deodorant, which is to say earth and body odour, and his eyes were enormous and watery. Rosalyn talked a lot about buoyancy while he nodded and eventually chose a kayak she recommended at random. That was how she knew he was just as full of shit as she was; all kayaks were buoyant. A kayak that wasn’t buoyant was an anchor.
For the most part, Rosalyn directed anybody who asked for assistance to the opposite corner of the store. She had no idea what was over there and, what’s more, she didn’t particularly care. If someone asked her for a tent, a shovel, hiking boots, or a canoe paddle, she sent them in the opposite direction. Technically her department sold canoe paddles.
“I hope you don’t work on commission,” Tallulah said when Rosalyn explained how she made it through most days.
“I would starve to death,” Rosalyn replied and Tallulah nodded.
“Yes you would,” she agreed.
One Wednesday morning, Rosalyn was at work, wandering around her section of the floor, knocking on canoes to see if she could string the different tones into a tune. She was halfway through the opening verse of “No Diggity” when someone in the store uniform shirt came over to her. He had reddish-blonde hair and a mustache. He was wearing glasses very similar to the ones that Rosalyn had seen her mother wearing in photos from the 1980s. He cleared his throat to get her attention.
“Hi,” he greeted her when she looked over at him.
“Hi,” she replied, slightly hoping that would be the end of it. She’d gone out for dinner the night before with Doug and Britt and it had turned into excessively heavy drinking at a pub a block from the restaurant they had meant to go, but never made it to. It was Britt’s fault. She was on the hunt for men, which always meant that she dragged her friends out drinking with her. Rosalyn had forgotten how difficult it was, having been away for so long. Now she was suffering through retail with a splitting headache and a touch of nausea, a mistake she wouldn’t likely be making again anytime soon.
“Uh, I’m Matt,” he said, pointing to the name tag on his chest.
“Rosalyn,” she replied, pointing to her own name tag, realizing too late that she was essentially pointing to her boob.
“Nice to meet you,” Matt nodded. Rosalyn wondered why he had come over. It seemed unlikely that he’d just wanted to chat.
“You too,” she nodded as well.
“Would you mind not sending all of the customers over to the camping goods department?” Matt asked, hooking a thumb over his shoulder in the direction that Rosalyn did in fact send everybody. “I wouldn’t really mind, it’s just that I’ve had ten separate people ask me about kayaks in the past three days.”
Rosalyn blushed slightly.
“Sure, sorry,” she nodded briskly.
“Oh, no worries,” Matt replied dismissively. “I understand. I don’t want to actually do work either. That’s why I’m asking you to send them over there instead.”
He pointed to the opposite corner of the store.
“Craig who works in running gear is a right piece of shit,” Matt added. “If anybody deserves to have people hounding them about kayaks, it’s him.”
Then Matt walked away and Rosalyn felt very fond.