Take a line from a song that you love or connect with. Turn that line into the title of your post.
Take a line from a song that you love or connect with. Turn that line into the title of your post.
Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?
As those of you who have kept up with my story for awhile know, I work in Telco (for those of you who haven’t – surprise!). While Telco has a tendency to get busy over Christmas (like all retail), we have a different time of year that brings out the crazy in all our customers, and people storming through the doors. For us, this happens every September, when Apple announce their latest iGadget and the world goes into meltdown.
There are two types of people who work in Telco – those who can’t stand iPhone launches, and those who live for them. I am in the latter category, which is lucky, as the iPhone 7 launch was my fifth one, although first in this job. I worked the 4s, 5, 5s and 6 launches, although unfortunately missed out on the 6s as I was between jobs at the time. You’d think the novelty would have worn off by now, but you’d be wrong. If anything, my excitement grows every year. Seriously, this is my Christmas. I count down to it. I love knowing all the nitty, gritty details about what the plan is for the day in advance. I love reading up on the new phone, ready to answer all the questions that will come flying at me that day. Previously, I’d spend hours designing posters advertising accessory packs, and drooling over which cases we could have in stock by launch day. iPhone launch is my thing.
This year promised to be my biggest launch yet – not necessarily for the turnout, but just that I work in the biggest Telco store in the country, a store where the media flock to on a frequent basis. I’ve never experienced something like that before, and it was so exciting knowing it was coming up.
Let’s step back though. Back several weeks. In fact, let’s go back a couple of months. This is the quietest time in the Telco year. The calm before the storm. Our store is right in the middle of two of the busiest roads in the country, so we are always pretty chaotic. The closer it got to September though, the more often I found myself looking around, expecting a customer to serve, and instead got nothing. It was a nice change, but I also knew it wouldn’t last. The one thing all Telco employees hate in this lead-up though is the customers who walk in, proclaiming they know all about the upcoming iPhone and when it will be released and what features it will have. They believe that because they have mastered how to type “new iPhone” into Google, that they suddenly know more than anyone in the shop, and refuse point blank to believe that anything they read could be a rumour, or made up. They don’t understand how secretive Apple are, and how very little Telco employees know – I can tell you we get told absolutely nothing. As far as I’m aware, even Apple employees themselves don’t get told anything. It’s all on a need-to-know basis with Apple, and as frontline staff, we definitely do not need to know. So sorry, Mr Customer, if I take what you’re telling me with a very large grain of salt.
The calm goes right through until Apple’s Keynote announcement, which for Aussies, happens at 3am. From then on, things start picking up again in store, if only for customers walking in, asking to see the phone, and getting frustrated and/or disappointed when we say “it isn’t out yet, it was just announced, come back in a week”. Still, the storm is well and truely brewing. The other reason people come in is for pre-orders, which I still find a fairly new concept, as Apple only allowed this for the last three launches. Prior to that, it was line up or risk missing out. I’m on the fence about pre-orders – on one hand it’s great as it means customers can get their new iToys quickly without having to take time off work, but on the other, it dampens the spirit of iPhone launch a little bit. I still remember iPhone 4s launch clear as day, with lines snaking around the shopping complex as people eagerly waited for the chance to grab their own device. The atmosphere is electric because the people in line knew they’d be the first in the world to get them, and rightly so, as they braved the elements camping out for it. Now, with pre-orders, people can arrange a phone delivered to their home or office on launch day, all with a couple of clicks. Not really the same vibe.
Anyway, launch day eve finally rolls around. In this massive store, an incredible amount of planning has gone into the day, right down to where each staff member is sitting and when they’re going on lunch. Nobody knows if there will be ten people or a thousand people waiting the next day. Hell, we don’t even know for sure what stock we’ll have. All we know is, the storm is about to bare down on us, and we need to be ready to ride it out, whether it’s gritting your teeth and fighting through it, or like me – grabbing a surfboard and enjoying the ride!
Safe to say I didn’t get much sleep the night before. I was rostered to start at 7am, but got there well before 6.30. I was buzzing with excitement, so much so I could barely contain myself. There had been people camping out, but only a handful. Still, that wasn’t much of an indication of how the day would go, as most of our customers work in the city and would no doubt come in closer to starting-time.
We all grabbed our laptops, food and caffeinated beverages, and listened to the managers give pep talks. We were given a run down of the plans (again) and told where we’d be sitting. We then headed downstairs, where they’d set up a red carpet, a DJ booth and bowls and bowls of candy for the customers. The media were already out in force, with at least 3 different major news carriers there, waiting to film the first customer collecting his iPhone. There were also famous footy players there to add to the hype. We all got into a group behind them, where photos were taken, and video was captured that landed on several news stations.
As with all launches, we aren’t allowed to sell any of the phones until 8am. God help you if you sell one before then! Apple have ways to track this and you don’t want to piss off one of the largest companies in the world.
As 8am crept closer, we met with all the customers in the line, and then the countdown began. I’m talking a literal countdown, like on NYE. Then the doors opened, the the first customer came through the doors, with the media swarming him, asking what it was like to camp out overnight and what it felt like to be one of the first people in the world to get an iPhone 7. We all got our own customers, and the day was off.
The media hung around for most of the morning, filming everything we were doing. We had managers walking around, trying to feed us sugar, and our barista was handing out coffees by the trayful. The music was pumping and all the customers seemed to enjoy the set up. Despite being very early in the morning for someone like me, I was loving every second of it.
By midday, my excitement levels had dropped off a little. There weren’t as many customers as we’d been hoping for (thanks mostly to our record number of pre-orders), and exhaustion had begun to set in. By the last hour of my (very long) shift, I was a walking zombie. I couldn’t even fain excitement any more. My legs hurt, my eyes were drooping and even my crush couldn’t lift my spirits much. I’ve never felt that exhausted that early on a launch day. Usually, I can work through from 7am to 10pm at night and still be buzzing. I think it came down to the fact that we wound up sitting around a lot instead of being constantly go-go-going, which gave me time to realize how wrecked I was.
Overall, it was a fun day, but I was extremely glad to be told I could leave half an hour early. The second I got home, I flicked on the TV and counted how many times I was on it – multiple times over three different stations. Once the news ended, I went straight to bed and slept like the dead.
And if you think that iPhone launch ending also brings the end to the storm, you are dead wrong. It has been, and will continue to be, absolutely crazy busy for the next several months. Some days this is great as it makes the shift fly by, and other times, it’s like walking straight into hell. You are constantly surrounded by masses of people, and when stock is out (which is 90% of the time right now), the only question on everyone’s lips is “when is it back in?”, which we never have an answer for.
Regardless of any of this, next September will leave me counting down until launch again. It’s addictive and electric and if there comes a day when I’m not in Telco, I’m going to sorely miss it.
How many of you have gotten the new iPhone?
Some might say we potentially already live in a world like this, aka the Matrix theory. That doesn’t make for a great answer though, so instead I’ll go the more literal sense and say I’m actually in a Sims game.
And if that’s the case, I guess it’d be interesting. Objects would just disappear (pool steps, anyone?), it would take over an hour to walk across two rooms and go to the bathroom, I could spent two hours at a chess table and earn a promotion. I could meet someone in the street, be married within the day and have twins within four days. If I wanted to change clothes, I just walk up to the nearest dresser (it doesn’t even have to be in my house!) and I can chose any clothes in existence…for free! The same goes for snacks…walk up to any fridge and pull out a packet of chips or a plate of cookies for free! Woohoo! If I’m lucky, money will just randomly come into my bank account…50,000 simoleons at a time, no questions asked, no repercussions. If I don’t want to work a regular 9-5 job, I could paint a few paintings and set myself up for life, or write some novels and earn a weekly payment. I could go fishing at midnight without worrying about anything dangerous happening (except maybe freezing over if it’s winter). The best part is, all my fishing stuff and painting stuff and computer and everything else is stored in this invisible, enormous backpack. How cool would that be in real life?!
What was the last video game you played?
So, I’ve been meaning to write this for a long, long time. In fact, I had half a draft done over a year ago for my previous blog, but decided not to post it. A couple of months ago, I saw someone else post a similar blog (apologies, I can’t remember where I read it) and it reminded me of the draft I had. I’m not going to use the draft (it’s too hard to keep going on something from so long ago), but instead go from scratch…no pun intended. I feel like while the disease is fairly well known, people don’t know much about it, or what it’s suffers go through…usually in silence.
So, I’ve had eczema and psoriasis my whole life. My baby photos are full of angry red cheeks and being covered from the neck down so my skin wasn’t exposed to sharp little nails. The soundtrack to my childhood is my parents carolling “don’t scratch!”. I’ve always been self-conscious to the point where I just saw that as normal. After all, any kid with yucky red rashes everywhere is going to want to hide it away, and get embarrassed when other kids ask questions about it.
There are good days and bad days, which then lead on to good months and bad ones. A large portion of my childhood was full of “bad months”…or maybe they just stand out more strongly than the good ones. Along with the horrible rashes that would appear in random places all over my body, I’d also get this thick horrible flaky skin behind my ears (the psoriasis part of my skin issues). This was something I lived with throughout my childhood in varying degrees. I remember the first time it had completely cleared. I was maybe 12. I remember thinking that this smoothness, this clean feeling is what everyone else takes for granted. I never had that. Instead I had flaky shirts, weird looks and sometimes a gross smell coming from my ears. It didn’t matter how hard I scrubbed, or what cream I used, it was always there. I remember in year 7, a guy I didn’t get on with asked me about them halfway through class one day. At first I thought he was just being his normal asshole self, but he apologised and said he didn’t mean to be rude, he just really wanted to know. So I told him. I don’t know whether he understood, or even cared. At least he asked, instead of just giving me weird looks.
For a large amount of my youth, I’d have rashes in all the common areas – in the elbow and knee bends, my face, my back. Thankfully I’ve never gotten it on my hands or feet (I couldn’t think of much worse). I’ve used just about every over the counter option there is. In my childhood, my go-to cream was DermAid, but eventually mum stopped buying it as it was found to strip away layers of skin or something and eventually made them weaker. I’d get mum to lather me up with moisturising cream before school each day, and after showers. After showers was especially important, as my skin would feel horrible and sore and tight if I didn’t do it, particularly my face. I’d go through tubs of the stuff each month, and it still wasn’t enough to keep the blotches away.
The last couple of years have been okay, for the most part. I finally started to outgrow it, and I suppose manage it better. I think it is probably about 50/50. I had my worse breakout in a very long time about a year and a half ago. I’m used to rashes (as you can tell) so for a long time I put up with it, tried to fix it with moisturisers and the occasional tube of steriod cream I could wrangle out of a doctor (the only almost-certain way of fixing stubborn eczema). They never ever give enough though, and once it runs out, it comes back. In the end, it got so bad it was thick and extremely painful and it basically went from my neck all the way down my torso, stopping at my hands and feet. It hurt to move, as it would dry out almost immediately after putting cream on. I went to my boss in tears, telling him I just couldn’t wear the uniform shirt as it was scratchy material and making it all worse. He told me to go and buy something to wear underneath it immediately. I was extremely frustrated, as I felt like I should be able to control it after living with it for over twenty years. Instead, after months of pain and it not getting any better, I wound up sobbing in a doctor’s office, feeling completely overwhelmed and in so much pain I could hardly stand it. She immediately prescribed a large amount of steriod cream to start with, and sent me to see a specialist.
These are some of the pictures I took prior to going to the appointment (keep in mind, they might be a little hard to look at. If you feel squeamish looking at them, imagine living with it. They’re photos of my arms, legs and torso…apologies about the weird angles and undies shot, but I thought it was worth including as the pictures show more than I can explain in words.)
It’s probably a little weird I didn’t already have a specialist. I think when I was little, the GP mum used to take me to specalised in skin conditions and she trusted him, so I had no need to see one. By the time I moved out, it was starting to get better by itself, so I didn’t need one then either. I’m not sure what I expected from the specialist, but whatever it was, I didn’t get it from her. I walked in and we talked about why I was here. Then she got my to strip down to my underwear so she could see the damage…and judging by her face, the damage was bad. I mean, I knew it wasn’t good, but her job is skin conditions, so I wasn’t expecting her look of shock when she saw it. You’d think that’d mean she’d want to help…and maybe she did, I don’t know. All I know is, she asked me all of one lifestyle question – “do you have a dog?”, and when I answered yes, she blamed everything on that. Nevermind this flare up happened a year after I got her, nevermind I’d grown up with dogs, nevermind it could be a million other things, like diet, on sweat, or stress, or dust. It was, in her mind, caused 100% by the dog, and I was to leave her outside at all times. Yeah, like that would happen.
About the best thing she did is load me up with a prescription for an enormous amount of steriod creams in various forms. I still have heaps left over now, a year and a half later, and the cream does it job well. One thing I wish someone had told me (considering how many doctors I’ve been through, you’d think one of them might have mentioned it) is that if you use too much, it can actually effect your hormones. During the time where my skin was especially bad, I started spotting heavily for two weeks straight, and I’d only had my period two weeks before. I had no idea what was happening and whether I should be concerned. It was only when I woke up halfway through the night and realized what might be happening, that I googled it and confirmed it. Since then, I’ve tried to use it more sparingly, as it took at least a month for everything to get back on track.
So, I’ve gone through my story, but what’s it actually like?
Basically, on a bad day, you wake up with sore, tight skin. Maybe there’ll be rashes, maybe not. One of the perils of having skin like mine is that it’s dry all the time, and that can feel almost the same as having a rash sometimes.
If you do have a rash (and let’s say we’re smack in the middle of a flare up), you have to coat yourself in slimy, often-weird-smelling cream, feeling stingy and unclean.
You try to cover up the rash, but if it’s on your neck, or your arms, it’s tough. Forget scarves, as wool can drive you mental from it being so scratchy. Same goes with gloves. Oh and nylon? Dream on. If it’s not cotton, it’s not getting worn.
You try to get on with your day, but you can feel the moisture leeching away, and the rashes getting more painful. If you’re lucky, you get lost in an activity and forget it. If you aren’t, it’s all you can think of all day long.
The first thing you do when you get home is lather yourself up in more cream. Oh, sweet relief! Nothing feels as heavenly as moisturiser on skin that’s been painful all day.
Later on, you have to bathe. It’s not something you look forward to, as the water stings the rashes, and if they’re all over, it means you hurt all over. The golden rule is to have a shower as cold as you can manage…only I can’t handle cold showers. The heat only makes the rashes angrier later on.
You get out, towel off (pat dry, don’t wipe!) and once again, go through the gross routine of applying cream everywhere. You try not to miss anywhere, because in half an hour you’ll know about it if you do!
Then it’s bed time and you dread it. Firstly, the pain is often enough to wake you. If it doesn’t, you’re still likely to wake up with gouge marks all over from where you scratched yourself in your sleep. If you’re lucky, they won’t be on your face. If they are, you’ll look like you came second best in a catfight. The scratches are often much deeper than they would be if you scratched yourself when you were awake. I guess you don’t feel pain when you sleep scratch. Or maybe it’s just super itchy. Either way, they hurt like buggery, and take a long time to fully heal.
And this is your life every day until the creams start to work or until the flare up goes away on it’s own. On good days, where the rash is minimal or not there, you may only need to cream up once a day…and this is a good thing!
I have found a few tricks lately that have helped me. If you suffer along with me, these might be of interest to you to. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments!
I think that’s about all the tips and tricks I have. I’m super glad that right now, my skin is pretty good, save for a few little rashes on my tummy and some dry patches on my legs. I’ve been extra careful lately to catch rashes early, as I know in summer it’s easy for it to spread and get out of hand. Thank God for steriod creams, because they clear it up quick smart!
Have you suffered from a skin condition in the past? How’s it going?