Thursday, February 18, 2010

More from the Florist, & my memories of working at one

When I was in college and grad school, I worked at a florist during the busy periods, namely Homecoming (lots of mum boutonnieres), Mother's Day (whatever arrangement was being pushed by FTD) and of course, Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day was arduous; we would begin working all-nighters starting around the 11th or 12th, putting together arrangements, stripping roses of thorns, taking orders.

It's always amused me that florists are depicted in romantic comedies as mellow, sensitive, easy-going souls. Most recently, Ashton Kutcher plays one in the insipid-looking Valentine's Day. I never saw the movie, but Jennifer Aniston played one in that movie with Aaron Eckhart too, and both trailers would suggest their characters - Aniston's & Kutcher's - support this stereotype. Me, I'm remembering Christian Slater in Bed of Roses - he falls in love with Mary Staurt Masterson from afar, and then sends her flowers anonymously. I think there's also a scene where he's spying on her outside her apartment, which once again prove that whatever's supposed to be angsty and romantic in movie life is actually stalker-y and crazy in real life (I'm looking at you, Lloyd Dobler).

Anyway, this image of the peaceful florist always makes me laugh, because I remember the first one I worked for. She was the most high-stress woman I'd ever met. 5'1" and barely 100 pounds, she was a ferociously hyper, chain-smoking handful of woman (once we actually had a customer complain that her flower arrangement smelled like cigarettes. Oops.). You can understand the pressure, too. On Valentine's Day, a florist has maybe tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, all of which is highly perishable. I don't know the exact statistic, but it'd be safe to say a typical florist can probably make around 10% of their annual profit on this one day. So, I understood my boss being a bit...edgy.

The other thing that's rarely touched on, is that florists really know everything that's going on in a small town. They know who's dead, who's getting married, who's birthday it is. They even know who cheats. I remember a man coming in and giving me two orders, to two different women. One got an order of roses, the other got carnations. My boss told me, after he left, that the girlfriend got the roses, the wife got carnations. Yuck.

Sadly, I realize this post would have been far more topical last week - it may have even gotten picked up by another website. Alas, it was only after this past snow that I was antsy enough to go find some greenery! Perhaps it's just as well; maybe we're happier to think that florists are zen Earth-mother or father figures. Even if, to me, the more relatable movie character for a florist may be Seymour Krelborn.


Liz - "Dirt girl" said...

I, too, worked at a florist while in High School and College, and similarly find the depictions of florists in movies to be grandly askew from what my experiences were. The company I worked with mostly did flowers for large weddings and bar/bat mitzvah receptions.

It's funny, though, how certain aspects of it become committed to motor memory. I'm sure that if asked I could still knock out a dozen stephanotis & rose "boots" (buttonieres).

オテモヤン said...