Jen Who Owns a Thrift Shop in France, the United Nation of Friends
The dedication of this shop owner, in her own cause, to make a difference in the world that we live in, translated…
Jen is a woman in her fifties, from Costa Rica, with a head of thick, brown curly hair, enjoys wearing white shirt, not very tall, but very strong, she’d worn two two-millimeter’s thick eyeliners on her eye that goes with her dark pupils…………
The Swift Classification Method to Live Life
Last summer, I’d decided to volunteer in France, I’d rode from Paris, for six hours, to arrive at a charity that took in refugees. What fell out of my expectation was, the residents here had been living here awhile, they are all, escaping the arrests of the local police, and waited for five years, and filed for the right to live in France; but, there were, those who’d stayed in France for six, seven years, and are, still waiting for the approvals from the government. They’d owned and operated a second-hand thrift store from donated goods from the public, and helped with recycling of the local community as well, to make what measly wages they possibly can.
a vintage shop in France, with the secondhand items for sale…phoot from online…
The third day since my arrival at the organization, I was assigned to help Jen. Jen was a woman in her fifties, from Costa Rica, with a head of dark brown curls, loved her clean white shirts, not very tall, but very strong, and with her dark pupils, she’d always worn thick black eyeliners, and, as I’d started listening to her talk, I’d always, guessed at how much eyeliner she’d put on for the day.
In her busyness, Jen had said her casual hello to greet me, the workshop was dimly lit, and, the moment I’d entered, I saw the boxes, stacked up to the ceiling, all of these, are donated by the members of the public. Next to the long table, there were, boxes and boxes of plastic containers, with the sorted items. The name of the shop that Jen was responsible for was called “Bibelots”, in Chinese, it translated to “Small things”, but, the things she oversaw, are of all sorts, small to trinkets, jewelry boxes, coffee cups, cheese plates, vases, to the larger candelabras, French casserole cookers, gigantic paintings, to even, trash cans too. And, my job every single day, is to classify the items donated by the public, clean them, and Jen would stick the price tags on, then, shelve them up in the shops.
I’d taken the items out one by one, as Jen passed by me, she was surprised and asked me, “What are you doing?”, and explained to how there are, too many things lying around, that the entire table won’t be enough for everything, so, before I take the items out, I would already need to, have a category to place them in, the dinnerware together, the toys, in a bundle, the jewelries, a separate stack, and what can’t be sold is, thrown out. What shocked me, as I’d started volunteering there, was how Jen had, sorted through a stack of plates quickly, those that are broken, chipped, she’d thrown into the bucket close by, said, “Cassé! (Broken!)” then, tossed the plates, her exaggerated actions and tone would always, shock the new volunteers that they’d, become, very silent.
After we got acquainted, Jen told me, that this, is a way of life, others would always give you too much of what you don’t need, and, your own hesitations would keep the items stacking up sky-high, “If you don’t sort through the items, then, your life would be, a huge mess!”
The Lessons Learned from a Short Coffee Session
The French loved coffee, and all of us, newly migrated would follow their traditions, and every morning at ten and four in the afternoon, there would be, a “coffee time” everybody drops their work, drank coffee, with the croissants, and, hold casual conversations with coworkers.
coffee break!!! Photo from online…
Once, the chairs outside are all filled, I’d sat all alone, in the corner of the room, sipped on my coffee quietly. As Jen saw me, she’d asked, “Why are you sitting her all alone?”, I’d told her, that there weren’t any seats, but it was okay. Jen shook her head hard, “Come with me!”, she’d held her own cup of coffee in one hand, walked with speed, to the other empty lot, and moved a long bench over. The two of us, working together, moved the bench to where everybody else was sitting, and finally, we’d, sat down, and enjoyed our coffees. For her, the reason for sitting along because a seat wasn’t available won’t be allowed.
Jen carried this sort of a stamina in working too, she’d almost never taken a break to rest, although the manager of the place had some stronger guys to move the heavier items for her, she’d always told them she could manage on her own, that the manager should assign these guys to places they would be more useful. Although the workload is heavy from day to day, but when we have time to spare, Jen would teach me to identify the art pieces in France, Limoges is where the tea pieces are made in the years before, and the chinas from Vallarius are bold in color, the most northerners would love………I’d asked how she knew so much? She’d only told me, that she’d taught art in Spain for twenty years, then, turned to take care of something else in the shop.
Jen is intelligent, able bodied, the shop she was in charge of, usually brings in five times what the other shops made. She is extremely excellent in finding the pieces that are collectibles out of the bunch, and systematically, displayed the items around the shop, and, the shelves are always, fully populated, but never messy, and, there were, many returning customers, hunting for treasures.
Later on, I’d understood, that Jen wasn’t a refugee, she has a passport, and the visas to live in France, and the reason why she’d stayed working here was all because of how helpful she was in nature, and willing, to put her life into, helping someone else, better her/his life.
I’d admired Jen even more now, I thought about how I’d volunteered, for just a few short months, but Jen taught me, that this, is a work that’s worth putting time into my whole life. Jen’s kindness, her wisdom, and her passions toward life, still stayed with me, even after years since I’d left France.
So, this, is something we can, take from, this shop owner’s zest for what she did, and, she may have been through what the refugees are going through, which, was why she was, more than empathetic toward those whom she assisted, and, her small shop is more than purposeful, other than making money off of the sales of the items, she’s donating her time, to help those in need, she’s, someone, we can all, take after!