Oh… I thoroughly enjoyed your story about working on Oxford Street…
I had a similar experience when I returned (the family had emmigrated to Toronto in 67) to London for the 2nd time (survived for one year in 72 at nursing school in Woolwich) in 74, thinking I would apply for a job at Great Ormond Street, however, once I took my requisite stroll down Oxford St, I decided …. to hell with the stress of nursing, so I popped into one of many Jean Junctions at Oxford Circus, asked if there were any jobs going & lo & behold, started working there a couple of days later!! There were about 6 JJ’s on the Oxford strip, as well as a number of Jean Machines (our main competitor, it seems)…
I worked there for about 7 months & mostly had a ball. Like you say, popping into another shop to get a size yours did not have, a lot of the boutiquey shop fronts all open to the street, (very chilly in the winter months)! The people I worked with were mostly fabulous, and it was like a veritable revolving door of youth from all across the world who staffed all the JJ’s….serving tourists from all over, experiencing rich and often rude ‘foreigners’ ( I am being ever so politically correct using this term, when I could just say those damn —-s & those awful #######s,) who believed not only that they could haggle down the cost of ONE pair of jeans, but could buy you for a night too!!
I frequently saw scams & thefts in the store (by staff) & mostly steered away from that, except for once, I’m ashamed to say I succumbed! One evening I was ‘accosted’ by JJ security when I closed up the shop and was about to head toward the underground, when said guy popped out of a doorway, & asked to look in my bags…I recognized him and let him rummage through my shoulder bag & a JJ plastic bag full of odds & ends… “ah”, he said smugly, “taking some foam cups home…?”… only to realize that it was my camera case he was feeling! Ha, Ha..
We had a tape deck for music in all the shops, & sometimes I could sneak my own stuff in for hours at a time … I loved it…. I felt like a friggin dj!! One of the head office guys once came in with a cassette for each shop! I remember him as being a pompous dick, & he said we had to play the cassette once a day! Turns out he had fallen in with that hit number ‘Wide-Eyed & Legless’, can’t remember the singer’s name, and each cassette had only this track, repeated again & again on both sides!
I am happy to say that I did not see the grey moving lines of mice (arggghhh!), but we did have the occasional menace of unattended bags along Oxford Street, or in our shops, when the police would have to be called (IRA time) & sometimes the tube would be closed down for hours to look for bombs..
All in All, it was an experience I wouldn’t have missed for the world…. After about 7 or 8 months, the bubble (of super fun) burst, & along with ‘man’ problems, it was time for me to go back to the real world………… Toronto & the Hospital For Sick Children