Dispatches from Bluewater Shopping Centre – By @charlesfare

By Charles Olafare


Dispatches from Bluewater Shopping Centre



My first ever job was in Bluewater shopping centre. I was 17 and  worked as a sales assistant at one of the clothes shops for about a year. It was okay. The 40% discount was even better. I’m back at Bluewater today, hanging out and hoping to spot something interesting. Let’s call it a homecoming.


People watching is always a been of an odd one. It puts the viewer in the position of anthropologist and situates everyone in their gaze as subjects. Like Jane Goodall’s chimpanzees or the lions from Born Free.


I’m not any better, more elevated or interesting than the people I’ve come to spy on. I’m just an advertising student following his teacher’s instructions. That feels important to note. Lest I get ideas above my station. Anyway, let’s get to it. I’m on a bench outside the entrance to Urban Outfitters and just across the way from the Apple Store. Here’s what I’m seeing:


Urban is getting lots of footfall. Must be the sales. There’s a group of what could either be teens or uni-aged young adults decked out in streetwear. Their puffer jackets make them look like walking marshmallows. I must look like a giant square to them. Not close enough to hear any of them talk, though.


I’m turning my gaze towards the Apple Store now. It’s like a spaceship in there. Looks like iPads and iPhones are flying off the shelves, which…isn’t interesting at all really. I’m going to get up and walk somewhere else.


Outside the Krispey Kreme stand now. I used to come here every day after work and grab one original glazed, plus a random flavour to eat on the bus home. When I’d get indoors I’d write a review of it on Myspace (this was back in 2006/7, when Facebook was nascent at best and Twitter was just a glint in Jack Dorsey’s eye).


I’m far poorer now than I was when I was 17, so I don’t have enough money for two donuts. I’m buying a single original glazed and trying to tell the story of my Krispey Kreme reviews to the woman at the till. She doesn’t give a fuck. I swipe my card and get out of her hair.


There’s a TGI Fridays not too long a walk from where I’m stood. I make my way over. Funny story about this TGI Fridays. My mate Matt and I both handed our CVs in here when we were at 6th form. But only he got called back for an interview. He didn’t take the job, though.


Why? Well, apparently he the interview started off normal enough. There’s this manager woman asking him questions about what he’d do in various TGI Friday situations. Like if someone asks for Pepsi but you’ve only got coke or there’s a sudden outbreak of swine flu in the kitchen. Anway, Matt’s doing a decent job of answering all these questions when suddenly he gets blindsided by a real puzzler.


“What would you do if the only way you could get this job was by sleeping with me?”


I can’t remember what he told me his answer was, but he didn’t get the job.


Mad, really. That’s the word count hit, so I’m off to eat this Krispey Kreme and see what’s on sale at Uniqlo.







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