ah yes, on the bus and headed for work, reading ,napping or interacting with other passengers. My next regular joined the bus a few stops from what becomes the halfway point for later journeys. She is the first of the group of passengers that I collectively think of as the shop girls, although as time went on I realised that was not 100% accurate as whilst all worked in the city they did not all work at department stores. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Joining the bus later than me she had the longer journey into work and a more difficult return trip due to her hours. Late night shopping may be a boon to those who work till 5 or later but it is not a joy to the people who work in the shops and have their hours set to accommodate it. I have never worked in retail and conversations with this lady were both interesting and illuminating.
She worked in a large department store which I had been familiar with most of my life. A visit at Christmas just to see the window displays was a childhood treat. It used to be, as was the case with most such stores, that all the products on sale were bought from them and from their staff who were employed directly by the store. However, as with many places it has become an umbrella for lots of franchises generally relating to a particular brand of product, so that in the clothing department for instance there are several areas dedicated to particular brands. My new bus friend worked in one such franchise selling bags and shoes ( boots, etc) with high end prices. The staff being separately employed by the franchise and working partially on commission, which made the interaction between the staff on the various franchises more complex. It explains why you can see shop assistants standing with no customers and in the area next to it people waiting to be served, a bit like a posh market with several different stalls under one roof. Same location but they don't work together and can not use the tills or do sales on the other area.
Storage and stock issues, cleaning and display arrangements, the store regulations and the franchises own regulations, even who should turn on the lights all things to be navigated carefully in an unending game of work politics. Bit by bit with almost daily instalments (she had a rota to follow and we did not connect on her late nights) I was introduced to a whole new world.
The other ladies joined one or two stops before my exit from the bus so although their comments added to the whole I never have become as familiar with their jobs. For these ladies their involvement with each other went beyond the doors of the bus and into workplaces, they extended the relationship to meetings for breakfast, lunch and the occasional night out. It was both a pleasure to hear about and a slight sadness to be only on the periphery of this group. Mr Flyaway, working in retail as he did was an honorary member of this group, even if girl applied to him even less than to the rest of the ladies.