Here's some friendly advice: Don't listen when somebody insists there was no Y2K crisis, because obviously they've never met Jean Teasdale! Sure, the computers may not have failed and the world didn't come to an end, but for your old pal Jean, the year 2000 has been one big disaster after another!

First, I got arrested for shoplifting. Then, I had to be revived by paramedics after a housecleaning mishap. Then, I thought I had become a born-again Christian for a while and got a whole bunch of people mad at me after I decided I wasn't! (Sheesh! What a way to start a new millennium!)

So this hasn't exactly been a red-letter year for me. Practically the only good things in my life right now are my kitties and my part-time job at Fashion Bug. (I suppose I should include hubby Rick, too: He's a terrific hubby... especially when he's not around!)

I only got the job at Fashion Bug because Rick blew a gasket after I told him I wanted to stay at home and be a homemaker. (I hate the term "housewife." It's so insulting!) The day I told him that, he personally drove me around town to fill out job-application forms. (Which was pretty humiliating, let me tell you.) A couple of sales associates at Fashion Bug had quit the week before and the store was hurting for new people, so the manager, Roz, hired me on the spot.

"Great," I thought to myself, "another dead-end job that I'll either quit or be fired from within a month." But you know what? I really like working at Fashion Bug!

My favorite thing about my job is working with Roz. She has to be the first supervisor I've ever had that I actually wouldn't mind hanging out with! For one thing, she's super down to earth. And her sense of humor... Whoo, boy! The other day, a customer came by to return a blouse and was spouting off about how it had completely faded in the wash. She demanded a refund, and Roz gave it to her.

But the customer was one of those long-winded types who like to hear the sound of their own voice, and she wasn't through. She said she thought it was disgraceful that Fashion Bug would sell such inferior merchandise. Roz's response perfectly captures why she's so special. Instead of apologizing and making up some bull poop about how Fashion Bug would try to serve her better in the future, she just looked at her and said, "Ma'am, you have a good point, but please bear in mind that this is, after all, Fashion Bug."

That sure took the wind out of her sails! I was turning beet-red trying to stifle my laughter! I'd never heard anyone insult their place of work in front of a customer before, especially a boss! (Although, to be honest, I don't think Fashion Bug is all that bad a store. I've gotten a lot of cute tops there myself, and they haven't faded in the wash at all. Just a little shrinkage, and that can happen to anything.) Roz is truly one of those rare people who can crack wise and get away with it. It's like she has some special charisma. Even though I'm somewhat of a wag myself, if I'd said something like that to a customer, I think I'd be given vacation leave... permanently!

After the customer left, I took Roz aside and told her that was the funniest thing I'd ever seen while working at a job. She just looked at me and said, "Where did you work before, concentration camps?!" That floored me. See, even I am not immune to Roz's stinging wit! I noticed she wasn't laughing after she said that, either. That's the sign of a true comedian: He (or, in this case, she) never laughs at his own jokes!

Another great thing about working at Fashion Bug is that it's way out on the outskirts of town and hardly gets any business. It's in a strip mall that used to be the biggest shopping center in town back when I was in high school, but ever since they built that fancy Northgate Mall about a mile away, stores have been vacating it. So, besides Fashion Bug, there's just a Hot Sam, a frame store, a Jo-Ann Fabrics, and an H&R Block. Some of you might think that my job would be too dreary and slow-paced, but that's probably because you've been raised to think that being busy is the greatest thing in the world. No offense, Jeanketeers, but sometimes you just have to sit back and smell the roses. (Or, in my case, the hot pretzels! Yum!)

Actually, I keep myself pretty well occupied, stocking and folding clothes. If there's one thing I've got aced, it's folding. I'm serious! I've had enough retail jobs to know how to do it perfectly. In fact, when I go to the laundromat, people actually come up to me and remark on how neatly I fold my laundry! I kid you not!

A few days ago, my pal Fulgencio, the guy who wants to be a fashion designer, stopped by to visit me at work. "Girl," he said, "this place is skanky. Them stirrup pants over there went out with New Kids On The Block!" Then, Fulgencio also asked me why the store was called "Fashion Bug." To be honest, I didn't know! I think maybe it refers to having a virus for clothing, and the store's low prices and great selection are so contagious, you will catch the "fashion bug" once you shop there. Or maybe it means, "Our fashions are as cute as a bug!"

Actually, that reminds me of another hilarious thing Roz did. She was expecting a call from her boyfriend, and when the phone rang, she picked up the receiver and said, "Style Insect, how may I help you?" I was in stitches! So the next time the phone rang, I picked it up and said the same thing. Big mistake. Now, here I was, already forgetting that Roz can deliver those priceless lines far better than little old me. But I figured I was safe, because the phone barely ever rings, and when it does it's usually just a friend or family member of one of the employees anyway. But instead of laughter on the line, there was silence for a few seconds. Then a female voice asked for Roz. I later found out that it was the regional chain manager. Oops! I really put my foot in it this time!

Roz said the manager woman was pretty mad and wanted her to write up an employee-incident report for me, but Roz got her to let up after she explained that I was a trainee with a mild mental disability. (That's another great thing about Roz; she bends the rules when she needs to!) I was almost in tears, apologizing a million times and pleading with Roz not to be mad with me. But Roz, bless her heart, wasn't mad at all.

"Jean," she said, "with Tanya always calling in sick and Pat only coming in 10 hours a week, you're pretty much my best employee by default. So don't worry about it. Just answer the phone properly from now on and you'll be fine."

I was stunned! I'd never been called the best employee anywhere before! Especially after just committing a big goof. I felt like a million dollars and couldn't help but give Roz the biggest hug I could muster. She looked at me kind of funny, but she didn't realize how much that meant to me, especially with all the craziness that had been going on in my life!

You know that feeling you get when everything just seems to be going your way? Well, that's the feeling I get when I'm at work. I'm up to 25 hours a week now, and I'm actually requesting more hours! (A Jean Teasdale first!) You know, I don't think Employee Of The Month is out of the question. Or maybe, just maybe, if I keep at it, that plum associate-manager position that's been vacant for so long could be mine! (But before I even think about that, I really should find out what "Fashion Bug" means!)