EREN ÖĞRÜL
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Flower Shop Boy

June 21, 2020

The first job I got was being an assistant in a flower shop. I was 10 years old, and preparing bouquets for the customers or hand-crafting some charming decorative attachments for the gift packs (or the bouquets). The beginning was a pretty scary experience because I was introduced to work like, “These are roses, tulips, etc. And this is the desk and these are the accessories.“ It was 30 minutes of an introduction how to become a florist, and that was it. On the second day at the work, the owner left the shop for a couple of hours and told me, “Do not be afraid of anything. You can do this.“ Still, I do remember I was pissing myself. After I was alone in the shop, Murphy was looking over my shoulders, and I immediately started to receive orders via phone. There were customers who wanted to have bouquets one after another. This little kid was waiting for them with shaky hands while holding his breath behind the desk. Luckily, no customer had complained, nothing was bitter nor annoying. Possibly, my first bouquet try-outs sucked a lot, but all customers were okay with my lack of skills with a friendly smile on their faces. One month later, I was very confident about taking care of the shop, with my bouquets and my gift packs. And the owner never interrupted me when I was dealing with a customer.

I worked in the flower shop for the whole summer of 1994, and all my salary was spent on pets. I was not interested in candies, chips, cola, or anything. I needed something that will be with me for years. With this mindset, I bought a budgie and 2 goldfishes with a small and cute aquarium. Goldfishes lived with me for around 4 years and the budgie for 7 years. Once, I wanted to change my budgie in the harsh winter of 1996. My reasoning was it was a female budgie and female budgies cannot talk like humans. I needed a budgie who should talk like humans. After talking with a couple of pet shop owners, I found one who was willing to change my budgie with the male one. I went back home, talked with my great-grandmother, and did my best to convince her. She kept telling me why a bird should imitate humans, why I should expect this from a bird, etc. with very logical thoughts. After a couple of hours of a discussion, she gave up and agreed, because I was not going to change my mind. And we went back to the pet store with my budgie. There was at least 45cm of snow on the ground, an intense blizzard was pushing us back, and the cage was covered with a thick blanket to make sure my budgie would survive the journey. My great-grandmother and I entered the pet store, and after 5 minutes of talk, the owner said, “These are the male ones. Choose one.“ While I was looking for the perfect one, my great-grandmother said, “Those are nice birds, and your bird is also very nice. She is singing very well, and she doesn't have to talk like a human.“ And something happened inside me when I was looking at my great-grandmother and my budgie. I felt woebegone, and I said to the shop owner, “Those are nice birds, but my bird is the best. I don't want to change her anymore.“ And we went back home. Today, I still feel emotional when this story comes to my mind. That was the day I learned that no matter what gender or breed your pet is, they will love you unconditionally. You should never fixate your mind about what they should do for you or how they should live.

Not every summer, but many summers I worked here and there. Still, my flower shop experience was the one I can consider a real job experience. 15 years after this job experience, I graduated from university and started to look for another real job. As a freshman, I was applying job posts and sending my resume to the companies. I didn't get one phone call from any of them for years. At some point, I felt so desperate, and I needed to find a way to be the unique one within all the applicants. And one day, I came up with the idea of an ASCII resume. If you have never heard of ASCII art, basically, it is a graphic design technique that uses computers for presentation and consists of pictures pieced together from the 95 printable characters. If you have ever played roguelike games or used mIRC, it is the artwork that everything was based on, or people were sending to each other within messages.

Quickly I created an ASCII resume on my free OpenBSD shell provider and published the page. I was trying to be funny but serious, putting some unique perspective but not pushing the limits. I wanted it to be something that would at least get a phone call for an interview. Rather than sending my resume in PDF, this time, I was sharing the URL of it. A couple of weeks later, there were emails in my inbox from the Art Directors of the Media Agencies I applied. I was thrilled! Finally, my resume was working! Before opening any of them, I was dreaming of how to go to Istanbul, whom to stay before the interview, acing the conversation, and finally getting the job. Yet, the emails were about how unique my resume was, how creative I was, how happy they were to see such a thing, etc. Interview? Not at all! They were not even mentioning the position I applied for or why I am rejected or about anything. It was purely on the ASCII resume. I was devastated one more time.

Later on, the presence of my ASCII resume annoyed me so much, and I deleted it from my shell and from my computer. One year later, I got a job with the great help of one of my friends. The resume I used for the job I got was basically a junk -sorry to say. It was an ugly template with no hope or optimism, no creativity, nor it was unique at all. Today, I decided to create my ASCII resume again with more humor, and I would like to share it with you. Of course, it doesn't talk about my work experience or anything but wanted to show how it was before as far as I do remember. Maybe one day, if I am jobless and hopeless again, it might work.