Friday, April 17, 2009

You do not want me to be your decorator

There is a question I dread being asked at work: "What would YOU do?"

The customers that can't or don't make up their minds, are scared of the choices in colors, fabrics, and patterns, want to pick the "right" element that will FINALLY make their home complete will ask me for help. Actually, they will ask anyone that is standing close to them, and sometimes it just happens to be me.

I was not hired as a decorator. I don't even get to merchandise. My job is to take the money and put the product in the bag. People ask me what they should choose and seem to think that having money and good taste were hiring requirements. They don't realize they are talking to a woman who's house contains an orange-striped sofa that has had more sexual partners than the store staff and enough curb-side furniture (not all mine) to fill a basement.

Occasionally I will defer my opinion-giving until they have narrowed down their choices. And then I'll vote for Safe rather than Safer. But I am still just telling them what they want to hear.


  1. You are so funny! I wish I could have read your blog over the 14 years (beginning at 18) that I endured retail. Your comments are so true and you deal with them in great humor.

    I notice you don't complain much about management or fellow co-workers. Mine were mostly beastly to work with. I'm curious if things are different in housewares, rather than apparel?

    A story to share... I worked at a crusty, high-end men's store, yes the one that has sold the same ties for a hundred and fifty years or more-THAT one! I had a co-worker who had been there for 27 years and I honestly think he had started to crack. He was one of the in-house queens, who people either loved, feared or hated. He was knowledgeable on everything we sold and company history, ect and belittled those who didn't. I decided early on it was best to keep on his good side. One way I had to do this was by not stepping into his dpt, the other, probably more important way, complimenting him on how beautiful his mother was. Periodically he would bring photos of his beloved mother to show me and I was to oooo and ahhh over her beauty, charm and sophistication. One day (spring '04) I saw him coming toward me with 2 photos in his hand. It so happened that I was exhausted. It had been a crazy busy Friday and while I wasn't in a bad mood, I was just too tired to act out shit I didn't really feel or care about. When he handed me the photos, I was studying the wallpaper in the background and sighed, "God, the 70s were terrible!" He snatched back the photos and stormed off in a rage, headed right for the hold room. I saw him coming out in tears with bags and bags of things. However, I didn't think much about it as he was always shuffling things around. I thought about clarifying my comments, but I knew he was off the next day and would cool off over the weekend.

    The next day, Saturday, I had many, many sales lined up and was excited that I wouldn't have to work too hard as long as my "hold" customers actually came in. One by one, these people walked in on a busy Saturday, ready to just pay and go. "I don't have time to try anything on. I just want to pay." With glee I would run to the back to grab their holds-GONE! On a busy Saturday, I was helping multiple people as it was and now had to run all over the store and call management to help me out. The holds were no where in sight. I then had to drop what I was doing with people in the fitting rooms, and either try to find their sizes and piece back together what they had on hold or they walked out furious. I lost a LOT of money that day. And could never say anything to my bitchy co-worker who did the dirty deed as I would then have more trouble.

    I have a million stories like this and it is why I ultimately left retail, more than the annoying customers.

    Don't you deal with anything like this?

  2. I am blessed. My current co-workers are actually great. I can only think of a couple that drove me nuts and they weren't there very long. Most of my co-workers are female, which could lead to some really catty situations, but it is strangely harmonious. I often think about how weird this is and ponder how it could be; I think the management was just very lucky and hired good people. And they are not just good workers, but genuinely great people, supportive, understanding, and generous. I know that this makes me a spoiled retail brat.

    But I haven't always worked at this particular store. I have worked with some crazy bitches and raving imbeciles. Some of my former co-workers include: the manager that stole $5000 cash and tried to frame me, the paranoid misogynistic drug-addled owner, the angry controlling teen mother who daily botched our shared tips, numerous upper management types who fired great employees when they were not pliant and called-out shady deals, the loss prevention guy who could watch us on the store cameras from his home thanks to the internet. And I shouldn't leave out the thieves, alcoholics, drug fiends, suck-ups, and general all-around morons.

    As I look into the future and it probable, though unknown, retail jobs in new cities with new faces, I can safely say, it is not over yet.

  3. Oh, and I almost forgot about when I had to work with the former reigning Mrs. Washington and she told me I spelled "lettuce" wrong. And I had not.