Monday, April 4, 2011

Here There Be Dragons

As I've mentioned a time or two in the past, part of my clever disguise in real life is a job at my local branch of Ten Thousand Villages. For the store, I work as a sales associate, mailing list coordinator, and internet guru (which mostly means that I update the website and Facebook page and do the social media marketing for our events). As noted in a previous post, I'm also the resident MacGyver who fixes things when they break. I am easily mistaken for an intelligent and responsible adult when I'm working there, albeit one with a peculiar sense of humor. No, really: my performance evaluation last month included the notation that Customers don't always understand Laura's sense of humor. Though as my manager noted, neither do my coworkers, but it doesn't stop them from laughing so it's all good.

It's a small store, but it's one heck of a fun job. My coworkers are great, the merchandise is great, and the customers are great. I like to say that I don't have a job; I get paid to hang out with friends and play with toys five days a week. It still leaves time for blogging and other writing and whatnot, too.

By an odd coincidence (I think, but I'm not a big believer in coincidence), my regular days off are the same days that I update this blog. This means that I'm not usually there on Monday, when our weekly shipment arrives. Sometimes I am, or sometimes it comes on a Tuesday, which means I get to participate. Shipment day is like Christmas morning for us, especially when there are new products, because there are squeals and giggles and shouts of "Oh, look what we got! This is so cool/beautiful/funny/insert adjective of preference here!"

Some relatively unremarkable twist of fate led to my being on hand for the shipment of two weeks ago, when the new April items were delivered to our store. I was unaware of what the new items were going to be, because I failed a spot check and didn't read the shipment's manifest. This made it a bit more like Christmas morning for me, because some of the packages were a genuine surprise, but it also scared me.

I picked up one box and placed it on the counter in front of me. My coworkers have not yet discovered my unhealthy affection for bladed objects (I don't mention my sword collection at work), so they still allow me to handle a box cutter, and I slashed open the tape without much thought. The object inside was large, brown, and thoroughly mysterious. It also seemed a bit rounded, so I reached down into the plastic wrappings in search of a good hand-hold.

What I found was...teeth. My hand closed on what was unmistakably a lower jaw, and rows of little teeth were pressed firmly into the flesh of my palm. I was so stunned that I couldn't move.

"What is this, and why is it biting me?"

As it turned out, it was something that I love roughly as much as I love the heft of a sword in my hands - it was a dragon. A big, heavy, terra cotta dragon incense burner from Bangladesh, which now occupies pride of place in the back of the store. It sits opposite the dragon-etched gong, which I like to tell our customers is there not for sale so much as it is for my coworkers to hit when I tell jokes. (I have yet to have any of them contradict that assertion, which makes me think I'm onto something.) Even more delightfully, the big dragon was accompanied by five smaller baby dragon incense burners (click for pictures).

I wish we could burn incense in the store because it's hard for me to describe the epic awesome that is this product. There's a place in the mouth for the incense cone, and when it burns, the smoke drifts up through the hollow nose and out of the nostrils, so the dragon looks like it's breathing fire. We already sold out of the first five babies and are almost out of the second five. No, I still don't have one. I don't burn incense, so there's no practical reason for me to buy one.

But it's a dragon and I don't think practicality necessarily applies.

See, my two favorite animals are cats and dragons, and I don't think they're entirely mutually exclusive. When they made the movie How to Train Your Dragon (which I love so very very much), the animators even admitted that they used cats as their basis for the dragons.

Besides, I was born in the Year of the Dragon. Specifically, I'm a Fire Dragon (which means that if you click the link I just gave away my age). This apparently means that, among other things, I am quick-tempered (well, sometimes), flexible (usually), brave (maybe), passionate (yes), and imaginative (you think?). I'm not very domestic (my mother will enjoy that one), and I'm prone to becoming ill due to stress (wait, did my doctor write this?). I'm also "attracted by the bizarre" (that explains a lot) and an intensely loyal friend who, if I had children, would fight tooth and nail to avenge or defend them (and since I don't, my friends get that treatment instead).

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go make myself a nice pile of gold and take a nap on it before roasting a few peasants for dinner.


  1. I've never been to Ten Thousand Villages although it was someplace K had talked about taking me. She and her mom often went to the one in Lancaster. I also didn't realize they were a chain store. Very cool, especially since there's one an hour or so away from me. I'm going to have to go check it out.

  2. If I get my house I may consider buying a baby dragon :)

  3. Herb - definitely check it out! I think you and Susi would both like it.

    Rachel - if you get your house, I'm giving you a dragon as a housewarming gift. :)


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