Walking through the door, I was transported to a different time in my life. It was the smell of flowers bringing back my days as a floral designer. It was so real, I checked to see if I wore my
ugly sensible sneakers with my protective smock. Nope, I had my regular clothes on.
I looked around for my best buds Mitzi and Rosie. They weren’t there. That’s when I realized that I was in a very vivid reverie. It was very intense and it wasn’t a result of any drugs!
I had stopped at a local garden center to pick up cat grass. (Yes, I do spoil them but they don’t get treats, just grass!) They have a large fresh-cut flower section and everyone was in top speed gearing up for Valentine’s Day.
In between corporate stints, I worked in floral design. It was the hardest work I ever did for the smallest salary. Not all of it was creative. Lifting heavy objects, carrying displays, cold coolers, carrying buckets full of water, cement floors, and chapped, splitting hands were all a part of those days.
Next week is Valentine’s Day. There were tons of potted plants with plastic hearts stuck in the pot sitting on shelves in the store and cut flower arrangements in the cooler. They also had all kinds of ticky-tacky to buy your beloved.
Some people think that flower shops smell like funeral homes. Truth is that funeral homes smell like flower shops. It’s the flowers, not the dead bodies, that smell!
Working in floral design is not as glamorous as it sounds. It is rewarding and pleasurable when you are creating your own designs at your own pace. That’s less than 10% of the time.
Gearing up for a tacky holiday is not fun. Whipping out hundreds of vases of red roses gets old fast. Sometimes it felt like there was a rodeo cowboy with a bullwhip cracking saying faster, faster.
Clients get tedious too. Florists make their money between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. That holds them over financially during the slower summer months. Designers are banging out arrangements as fast as they can.
Then you get a client that wants something different…for $20. It takes them the better part of 20 minutes to explain that they don’t know what different is. You nod and note on the order, $20 arrangement. They will get the standard with a tacky gewgaw (a nice one — you want to keep your customers) stuck in the container.
Employees will work around the clock to fill the demand. Designers stand all day, mostly on cement floors buffered by a thin rubber mat with their hands in cold water, visiting the walk-in cooler every so often for supplies.
Everyone gets crazy. Employees start walking around with containers on the head and exist on potato chips and M&Ms washed down by diet soda.
Everything becomes funny. It’s surreal. Either that or you get really cranky.
I left to go back into the corporate world just as I was getting cranky. That and the cats were worried about a steady supply of cat food. I couldn’t disappoint them.
Going into that business and leaving it were both great decisions. First I have my sanity, sort of. I made some really great, crazy friends and I have my memories.
Then I went back to my career with a better sense of satisfaction that it was the right one for me.
Some things are meant to be hobbies and not careers.
The lesson is knowing that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. If it is, there is a different kind of fertilizer you have to put up with.
This is dedicated to all the folks in the industry including drivers and sales clerks who will work crazy hours all week.