Friday, March 25, 2011

Noises of the Clothing Jungle

Some days it's easier than others to block out the hub of the chaotic environment of the clothing store where I spend my days. Today was not one of them...

10:37 a.m.

A mother pushes a toddler in a stroller as she shops. The young girl spasmodically yells out at an alarming volume, sounding like a cross between a car honking and a foghorn. Boss Lady's eyebrow raises. Interestingly, the mother seems unruffled.

11 a.m.

UPS man arrives with a large shipment of stockroom supplies. His head is bleeding. He is cursing under his breath and intermittently muttering "Dadgummit!" He refuses my offer of a Band-Aid.

12:35 p.m.

I look around anxiously, sure that the clients around me can hear my stomach grumbling as I count down the minutes to my lunch break. No one seems to notice, but I mentally give the growler a warning.

2 p.m.

Music that blasts unevenly from our overhead speakers grates on my nerves as clients complain about price adjustments and coupons. I am inspired by Cee Lo's wise words and desperately want to yell "Forget you!" at all the moaners and groaners. I refrain.

4 p.m.

The store is full of clients. A strange spitting sound is repeatedly coming from the front of the store and is hard for me to identify. Without thinking, I say aloud, "WHAT is that noise?!" Clients look around with me. All eyes fall on a mother/daughter duo. The child seems to be imitating an animal of some sort, asking that her mother guess what sort of creature would make this awful noise. She sounds as though she were trying to hock a big loogie from the back of her throat. If there's truly an animal out there with that as its signature sound, I can only hope that it uses a different mating call. Did I mention the girl looked to be about 13?

4:42 p.m.

Manic laughing shatters a fleeting moment of peace as a woman finds something near the accessories table to be hysterically funny. The "something" remains undetermined.

5:01 p.m.

Is it 5:30 yet? Hangers clatter to the floor as clothes fall from the end of an overstuffed rolling rack.

...It's 7:29 p.m. My phone rings. It's my best friend calling to catch up, but I miss the call- I've already put my earplugs in.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nicole Foo, this is for you...

One of the major advantages of working in retail (of like, two advantages) is the discount. Most major retailers will offer employees their products at a discounted price to tempt them into sporting the clothes or using the products in their own lives. Thus, they sneakily turn their employees into loyal (and big-spending) clients as well as knowledgeable sales associates. For the big corporation, it's a win-win situation. For the destitute employee with the maxed out store card, it's a daily struggle of I must buy this now/I kinda like that now even though I thought it was ugly when I pulled it out of the box/Should I buy that just because it will be so cheap with my discount?

Along the same lines, sometimes companies will run contests in which free products are offered as the reward. Recently, our store ran a pant contest for associates. Pretty straightforward: sell the most pants, win some free pants. As exciting as this was, I don't really like pants. Not that I don't wear them. I do. I promise. I just don't like dress pants... or chinos... or cargos (unless they're slim!)... or shorts... you see what I mean. I'm pretty much in some variation of denim at all times. Sometimes I throw a pencil skirt into the mix when I'm feeling snazzy. Anyway, I'd much rather have been winning a free blouse, but since I like to be the best at things, I sold a lot of pants. In turn, I won some free pants. I was excited.

I took a week to choose my freebies. On the very last day of the "voucher redemption period," I chose a new pair of boyfriend denim as a pant last resort. Not that I needed more jeans. I've got like, 15 pairs, and I have two of all of my favorites. However, my favorite, ultra-lived in boyfriend jeans have holes dangerously close to the crotch area and a knee flap the size of Mars, which makes them a tad inappropriate for the sales floor. So, new boyfriend jeans it was.

Today, I pulled out my free pants for the first time. I ripped off the tag and pulled off the size sticker and yanked them on. With my chartreuse pocket tank and navy cardigan with white baby polka dots, I thought I looked pretty darn cute. Some rose gold accessories topped it all off.

I went to work and got on with my day, which passed in a flurry of stocking the store and working with clients, a few of which were close personal acquaintances. Consider that at a job like mine, there is lots of reaching upward and bending over for things... The outfit moves. Consider also that my cardigan was not of the longer variety. Just regular hip-grazing length.

I came home this evening and immediately stripped down (as always). As I flung my free boyfriend jeans onto the bed and reached for my PJ pants, I noticed something peculiar... And then I realized what I was seeing.

I'd left the giant "size 14" cloth tag stapled right there to the back pocket. All day. We saw 118 shoppers today, and not a single one of them took it upon themselves to let me know that I was confirming the size of my rear end to the world. Nor did any of my co-workers, of which there were three. Now even if I could convince myself that perhaps none of the other associates saw, I simply cannot believe that not one of 118 clients (some friends!) failed to notice. It seems to me that more than a few people are walking around with some bad shopping ju ju now. That's what you get when you don't tell someone that they have a booger hanging from their nose or a "size 14" stamped across their bottom.

So next time you get a pair of free pants, take a moment to inspect them as you put them on... Just because they were free doesn't mean they're going to do the work for you and cut off their own tags.