“Your assignment this week is to design a set of six Christmas cards. The theme is your choice but aim for something unusual.” Our photography lecturer packed up his belongings as students dispersed like seeds from a dandelion head.
Christmas cards. My mind ran through some possibilities. Snow, flowers, Christmas trees, candy canes. No. I needed something different and out of the box.
I discussed it with Mom next morning. “We have to take photos and print the cards by Friday next week. The problem is I can’t decide on a theme.”
“Why not go and look at the mall? I saw a charity Christmas card stand there yesterday.” She pulled out some cash. “Get me a few packs and browse for ideas while you’re there.”
I could see there was a problem as I approached the wooden booth that was built to resemble a cottage in the snow.
“I want this one!”
“No! That’s my one!”
A gang of three teenage boys were tossing cards around and turning the neat racks into a shambles. A young man stood behind the counter, his eyes magnified behind thick lenses. Bewilderment pulled his features into a mixture of fear and surprise. “Please stop that. I have to keep the cards tidy.” His speech was slow and the boys laughed.
I stepped up to the counter. “If you don’t leave immediately, I’m going to call mall security.’ The three hoods turned and looked at me. “Right now.” I emphasised.
The tallest pulled a finger at me as they strutted off.
“Those boys weren’t nice.”
“No, they weren’t.” I agreed. “Come on, I’ll help you tidy up. I’m Tabitha by the way.”
He stretched out his hand. ”I’m George.”
George was short and squat, slow in speech and mind but not deterred. “Mrs Young gave me this job.” he explained. “She said if I do well, she might give me work during the year.” He lifted his hand and counted on his fingers. “I’m good with numbers, you see.”
We worked at the cards and within a few minutes, the stand was back in order. “I need to get some cards for my mom.” I told George. “I’ll take those with the glittery bells on and that pack with ice-skaters.”
George totalled the order and gave me the correct change with no problem. “Mrs Young wants me to sell 75 packs today.” he confided. “I really hope I can.” He blinked behind his thick glasses as he scanned the mall. “75 packs means a bonus and then I can buy Mom a really neat Christmas present.”
I shook his hand again and he turned to serve a customer while I wandered over to a coffee shop. “A hazelnut hot chocolate, please.” I had a plan in mind and a good hot drink helped me form it into action. I tapped the text out on my phone and sent it to all 63 names in my phone book: Hlp spread sum Xmas cheer. Cum by Xmas cards from George at Easthill Mall. He needs 2 sell 75 pks. Pse fwd to yr contacts.
Then I sat back to watch. I thought my text might bring in a few extra customers and it seemed to be working. A couple of my friends waved as they looked through the cards and then a few older women came along. I was about to go home when the trickle suddenly picked up and a line began to form. A student from college stopped at my table. “Did you send out that text, Tabitha? A radio station picked it up and is challenging the public to come and help George.”
I felt a thrill of excitement as I reached into my backpack for the digital camera I always carry. “That’s so cool. I must get some pictures.”
George sold nearly 200 packs of Christmas cards that day and I captured the best moments. George, tongue protruding as he counted out change, George surrounded by a bunch of beautiful young ladies, George smiling, his face split like a watermelon as Mrs Young shook his hand and congratulated him.
It was Mom who suggested I use the pictures for my Christmas card project. I cut, cropped and framed George and my tutor loved him. I was awarded top marks for originality and George was ecstatic when I presented him with the cards. He threw his arms around me and kissed both my cheeks. “I’m never going to sell these cards, Tabitha.”
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