When I was 15 years old, I worked after school and weekends at a girls’ clothing shop called Wet Seal. It was the perfect job for me at that age; as a Southern California teenager, I spent most of my free time at the mall anyway, so getting paid and receiving big discounts on Wet Seal purchases made working there a no-brainer!

I enjoyed the customer service work; I didn’t even mind cleaning out the dressing rooms and organising the hundreds of items of clothing in the shop. And I did really well. I always hit my target numbers and frequently made the top sales slot for the days I worked.

However, my manager never seem to notice or acknowledge my contributions and this was a great source of stress and irritation for me. Her name was Heather, and she was a typical LA blonde; your basic, obnoxious Valley Girl nightmare. Whether it was jealousy or flat-out stupidity (or both), she never complimented my work and often gave me a hard time about the smallest missteps.


One day after another snippy comment from Heather, I went on my mid-morning break and went straight home. I didn’t bother ringing or leaving a note. I’d hit my limit and I simply walked out with no intention of ever coming back.

The very next day, I was back at the mall with resume in hand looking for another retail job. Though I tried to avoid walking by Wet Seal, I really wanted to apply to the shop next door so I held my head high and breezed on past. Just a few feet away from my destination, I heard someone call out my name. It was Donna, the district manager, who was at that location for her monthly visit.


I’d only worked with Donna a few times and didn’t know her that well, but she clearly saw in me what Heather just couldn’t (or wouldn’t). She pulled me aside and asked what had happened, and when I told her my story she listened with empathy. She said she knew that I was fed up, and she apologised for Heather’s behaviour.

“I think you’re far too talented to let go, so I’d love it if you would consider coming to our newest store and being my assistant manager,” she stated, with a big smile. I couldn’t believe it; I’d walked off my job and she was offering me a promotion at an even better and more conveniently located store. Without hesitation, I took her offer and ended up working at that store until I graduated from high school.

As a somewhat insecure teenager who felt deeply misunderstood and overlooked by my previous manager, this experience had quite an impact on me. Like most people, I just wanted my hard work acknowledged, and that Heather refused to do so made me feel  frustrated and angry; it made me question myself and hurt my self esteem. The fact that Donna, who I rarely interacted with, could really see me and my contribution – well, it gave me faith that my hard work wasn’t all for naught.


I thought of this story the other day because…well, I feel that way about my relationship with Mountaineering Man too. After a few failed relationships, one particularly terrible boyfriend and dozens of mediocre dates, I started to question whether anyone decent would ever find me and really see me and what I had to offer, and accept and appreciate who I am.

MM has, and does. And that in and of itself has restored my faith in myself…and in love.


Easy Romantic Dinner of Nibbles

There’s really no recipe for this – just a few pointers and tips on how to put together a quick and easy wine and nibbles dinner. It’s something we did just last Friday and we really enjoyed it. I stopped by the Wine Boutique on my way home from work, grabbed a couple of bottles of wine, some Sheridans cheese, fresh chorizo sausages, plum chutney and crackers (yes, all from the Wine Boutique!) and then some bread from Il Valentino. Once home I cooked up the chorizo with some onions and spring onions, toasted the bread, threw together a quick salad of rocket and beetroot and put the cheese, crackers and chutney out on a chopping board. MM lit a few candles and we sat down for a long, relaxed and very romantic dinner.