Re-tales

Some time ago, JordanBaker wrote of an <a href=”http://jordanbaker.blogspot.com/2007/06/i-may-forgive-them-some-day-but-only.html”>experience in Macy’s</a> that brought back all kinds of memories from my retailing days in the late 90’s and very early 00’s. There were some fun times, but most of them were counteracted by the crappy times. Permit me to regale you.

<b>In a “paper or plastic” world, I’m glad they chose plastic at one of their prior stops</b>
In my first week at my final retail job, I was clearing a fitting room when I felt my foot kick something beneath the bench that made a plastic rustling noise. I looked at my feet and saw a bag, not unlike what you’d get in a grocery store for your cucumbers or in a candy store for your gummy coke bottles. This bag was tied in a knot at the top and filled, but not with candy or fruit or vegetables.

No. It was filled with piss.

Okay, first of all let me establish that people that try on 10 items and buy nothing and proceed to leave all 10 items in the fitting room shoot straight to the top of the shit list for any retail worker. So for the individual who either peed in the bag, or permitted their child to pee in the bag and left it there for someone else to pick up, in <i>addition</i> to leaving a bunch of clothing in the fitting room… Well fuck you. Seriously.

<b>”If you want blood, you got it”</b>
You know those liners in the crotch of women’s bathing suits? You see the sub-header for this? Yeah. I found it there. Multiple times.

<b>Worst. Schedule. Ever.</b>
One summer when I was home from college I went back to working at a place that I’d worked the summer before. It was a pretty regular thing for our college kids to come back and make a buck on breaks from school. When the new line of stuff comes in, many workers would pull 5am-2pm shifts, coming in strictly to process shipment. My first week back began on the day shipment was coming in, so I wasn’t surprised to see a 5-2 shift on my schedule for that Monday since I was a veteran of the process. What I <i>was</i> surprised to see was 5-2 shifts for every day of that week. Furious, I ranted to the nearest manager before coming to my senses and saying “Sorry, I don’t mean to yell at you. You didn’t make the schedule” before he told me that he <i>did</i> make it, at which point all hell broke loose.

I never had a 5-2 again after that.

<b>Still only the 2nd time in my life, and the first was a Sadie Hawkins</b>
One night I was working a closing shift, already planning out the quickest route to counting the cash, doing the numbers, and making the deposit. I was folding at a table when I felt 2 people walk into the store, but only 1 walk past. I looked up to find a girl standing there. Cute. Not usually my type, but cute nonetheless. A couple of years older than me, and I was 20 at the time. The exchange?

<span style=”color: rgb(255, 255, 204);”><b>Girl:</b> “How old are you?”
</span><span style=”color: rgb(204, 255, 255);”><b>I-66</b> [immediately on the defensive, sick of jokes about not looking my age]: “Old enough to work here.” [looking back down at my stack of clothes]</span>
<span style=”color: rgb(255, 255, 204);”><b>Girl</b> [incredulous and evidently not sensing my irritation]: “Come on, you look about 16.”</span>
<span style=”color: rgb(204, 255, 255);”><b>I-66</b> [not looking up this time]: “I’m 20.”</span>

<i>insert inane back-and-forth that I can’t really remember because I was folding stuff the entire time that only ended when the girl’s friend came back</i>

<span style=”color: rgb(255, 255, 204);”><b>Girl:</b> “Well, you look busy so I’ll leave you alone, but do you want to maybe go out sometime?”</span>
<span style=”color: rgb(204, 255, 255);”><b>I-66</b> [hearing the record scratch and looking up]: “Sure.”</span>

Always a proponent of the girl initiating now and again, I almost felt I had to say yes. Besides, she was cute. Girl proceded to take down my home number (I was cell-less because I was receiving a new one in the mail after the prior broke) and I think she called me twice: once the same night before I even got home, and once the next night while I was out, never leaving a voicemail or anything so that I could tell it was her. The number, never having showed up on my caller ID before that night, never showed up on my caller ID again.

But seriously, who uses “how old are you?” and a jab at my appearance as a pickup line? If I hadn’t been working there and thus obligated not to be an asshole (with one glaring exception I’ll explain) I would’ve blown her off right when she told me I looked 16. Funny that she called me the same night. If roles were reversed I never would’ve done that.

<b>The Exception</b>
My greatest moment in retail, and simultaneously the sign that it was time to get out.

Working retail brought me to the belief that “the customer is always right” was a bunch of bullshit. I hated every customer who tried to put one past me or beat the system just to save a few bucks. It was the people who tried to argue that the larger priced item was the one that should be halved in a buy one get one ½ off deal, or the ones who wanted to get one item for half of the two for X price deal because they only wanted one… people like that.

One night a girl came into the store with cash to buy some things sans parents. She was maybe 12. She gathered up some things and came to the cashwrap. I watched one of my associates ring her, and listened as he explained to her that she had $45 worth of merchandise and at $50 she could get a free hat and asked if she wanted to get something else to put her over $50. She declined. He rang her and she left.

Some time later, the girl returned with her father leading her. He wanted to buy $5 worth of merchandise and apply it to the $45 and get the hat. The associate explained that everything had to be bought at one time. Manager on duty, I crept closer sensing there might be a problem. Now the guy wanted to return the stuff and then <i>re-purchase</i> it with $5 more in merchandise and get the hat. Associate turned to me, explained the situation (not knowing that I’d been listening the whole time), and asked if that was okay. I started to question it but decided that I was going to be fighting a losing battle and that it was better to just do it and get it over with, so I said the following (which I immediately regretted, but think is hilarious years later):

<span style=”color: rgb(204, 255, 255);”>”Just do it. It’s fucking bullshit, but do it.”</span>

Oh man.

Me and this guy had. at. it. in the middle of the floor for a few minutes. He wanted my name (which I gave) and a corporate contact number to file a complaint about me (which I also gave). We simmered eventually and actually had a semi-civil conversation about it. He demanded to know why it was bullshit and I explained my side of the story. The transaction was done while I went to the back to blow off some steam. The next day I called the store manager and pre-emptively struck to explain what happened so she’d hear it from me instead of someone else. I underwent a sort of behavior refining session with my manager but that was the extent of my penance.

The guy never filed that complaint. I wonder if he saw it from my point of view, or he was doing what roughly everyone who asks for your name is doing: trying to scare you. I wasn’t working there much longer, jumping ship for a 9-5 job at around the same time as the store manager, that I absolutely loved, was leaving for greener pastures.

I haven’t gone back to retail since, and I don’t plan to.

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