Jamie agreed and gave his reasons at length.
‘From what I saw today, Dad, Mel is red-hot on technique. It’s product knowledge that she needs to brush up on. As you’d expect, most of what she did at university was done using film cameras. She completely understands the differences between film and dslr cameras, but she really knows next to nothing about the new breed of mirrorless cameras that have been emerging since she graduated in 2012. On the other hand, she can handle a smartphone camera as well as any pro. She’ll have no difficulty advising customers how to choose once she’s up to date.’
‘Another thing that I noticed’ he said, ‘was how well she related to the few customers who were in today. She doesn’t try to baffle people with science. She’s amazing at crushing jargon into everyday terms.’
Overall, they all agreed that it had been a promising start and that Mel was a delight to work with.
Day two in the shop
Once again Mel was early and, once inside, was able straightaway to start helping Jamie. He took some of the new stock from the back of the shop and showed her the way to price-up and label display stock, and how to interpret the details included in the product labelling
There weren’t many customers for the first few hours, so Jamie spent some time with Mel talking about market trends and about the relative merits of the new mirrorless cameras compared against more traditional digital cameras. He took a display model to demonstrate the electronic viewfinder, the tiltable rear screen and the fast autofocus, but told her also about the shorter battery life and the still-developing market in lenses dedicated to mirrorless technology.
While Jamie broke off to talk to a customer, Lucy called Mel over to ask if she’d recovered from her first day in the shop.
‘Do you think that you’ll like working here?’ she continued.
Mel told her that she’d found it really interesting and was looking forward to some hands-on experience of using the different types, makes and models of kit, so as to become familiar with the various menu systems and controls. That would help a lot ready for when she needed to answer customers’ questions about them.
‘What about your boyfriend?’ Lucy asked, ‘Did you say his name was Craig? What does he think about you having a full-time job?’
‘Craig’s not happy about my hours,’ she replied, ‘but I’ve made it clear to him that he’ll have to get used to it. This is my opportunity for a new start.’
By mid-morning, as footfall increased, Jamie assigned Mel to working solo with some of the customers who came in. Whenever she encountered a totally unfamiliar situation, such as the difference between two high-end cameras, she passed the customer to Jamie.
In the afternoon, Jamie asked Mel to work with Lucy behind the counter. The two women bonded quickly, exchanging banter as they worked. The most difficult part for Mel was the additional information required for receipting transactions such as camera and lens purchases. Although Mel was familiar with using the pub’s till, this was different by an order of magnitude.
Because the receipt might later be needed for a range of purposes – from insurance to future trade-in – receipting was slower in order to record things like the customer’s name, address and postcode, but also the serial number of each item. The till automatically picked-up other item details such as the make and model from the label. Similarly, the till picked -up special-offers automatically. When customers traded-in their own equipment as part-exchange, Mel would need to include the type, make, model, serial number and the value allowed. Simple processing of amounts received – as a deposits or full-payments – was familiar to Mel – including procedures for both cash and card transactions.
Lucy talked Mel through security procedures including transactions where the card was declined or where Mel suspected any other type of fraud.
Before it was time for Mel to finish work for the day, she took Jamie to one side.
‘Listen, Jamie, could you and me have a natter after work tonight? If we’re going to be working together it would help me if I got to know you a bit better. Did you have other plans?’
He said that he hadn’t.
‘What about that café in the park. We could have a cup of tea or coffee together?’
‘What time?’ he asked.
‘About seven-thirty suit you?’ she asked.
‘See you there then,’ he said, mystified as to what had brought on her suggestion.
By the time the shop closed, Mel’s head was buzzing and she felt tired – much more so than the previous day.
The photo that I’ve chosen today is the tenth of the series that I’ll be posting in this part of my daily blog in this part of the page. As I said previously, the series is based on a walk that I did on the 19th April along the bank of the Leeds to Liverpool canal between Burscough Bridge and the ‘Ring O’Bells’ pub just over a mile away. I did the walk in both directions, accompanied by my daughter’s dog, Ted.
The remaining couple of photos in this series will be of people whom I saw as I walked along the canal path. Today’s image is of a man who lives aboard a narrowboat. I asked him whether he’d mind me taking his photo and he seemed happy to oblige. We spent several minutes chatting. The EXIF data are as follows: Camera used was my 24 MP Pentax KP cropped sensor camera paired with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5-5.6 full-frame lens. The shutter speed was 1/100 secs @ f/8 and 28 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was handheld and used only natural light. When I post-processed the shot in Lightroom, I decided to convert it to monochrome from colour, because it seemed the better option.