When I was fifteen, I took my first retail job in the mall.  I worked at the pet store.  It was a fun job.  I got to play with the puppies and kittens, and help people pick out pets.  I really hated, and still do hate the rodents, but you can’t like every aspect of every job.

The first Christmas Holiday season that I worked, I had a friend convince me to come work part-time at the Things Remembered store that was directly in front of the pet store.  I really liked working there, and ended up staying after I got fired from the pet store.  (That is another story altogether, that I’ll share sometime.  So messed up.)

Way back then, TR engraved everything by hand.  We had a machine that you loaded and centered letter tiles into, centered, sized, and then engraved.  It was really fun.

When I was allowed to stay on after Christmas, I became an engraving fool.  I was fast, accurate, and could up-sell people to buy the most engraving every time.

During down time, I would buy small things to engrave for myself or my friends.  We just had to buy the items, and never had to pay for the actual engraving as long as we did it ourselves during down time.

I would engrave poems on brass plates, Zippo lighters, picture frames, and whatever I was inspired at that point to make.

I still have a few of these things floating around, but some of my favorite things that I ever made, I gave away as gifts.

To my dear friends, Molly and Kim, I made necklaces.  Molly’s said, “I give head.”  Kim’s said, “I’m a tease.”  There were a few others, but I can’t remember what they said.  I always made sure to engrave these things in a super flowery unexpected font.  People often thought the necklaces said their names on them, until they got close enough to them to read them.

I also liked to make name tags, there were some really great ones of these over the years.  Nicknames, bogus employers and titles.  Really stupid stuff.

I worked there from the time I was fifteen, until I was about 22.  At several points, I quit and came back to work part-time, I started selling jewelry when I was nineteen full-time, so I really would come back as a favor to my old boss.  I don’t think she ever took me officially off of payroll ever.  The last time I came back they had replaced our old school engraving machines with a computer.  It was not nearly as much fun.  There was something special about carving those letters into things that was just not the same when you programmed a computer to do it for you.  I didn’t last long that last time around.  I got them through the pinch they were in, and then left for real.

I wish that I still had some of those old zippos and brass plates that I had made.  There were some really good ones, and I don’t remember what they all said.


3 Comments on “Engraved”

  1. Jen says:

    That sounds fun!

  2. 4evrmama says:

    That’s so funny what you engraved on those necklaces!

    I have a hand engraver, one of those to carve into your electronics so the pawn shops can return them to you. I’ve drawn pictures on the plastic cups we take camping. I engrave the corkscrew with “upstairs” and “downstairs” so they get returned to the right places after they go through the dishwasher. I’ve engraved my name in a zippo. Nutin fancy, just the basics. I would probably have engraved poems too if I had access to the engraver you did.

  3. libbylogic says:

    Remind me to tell you about how I became a shill for Bath and Body Works… Similar story, less cool reminders.

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