I just completed my second – and final – stint working in retail and have a few takeaways that I think might benefit the public at large.
For a year, I was lucky that I got to spend a few days a week at an upscale athleisure emporium at my local, like, fancy strip mall, and I worked with pretty awesome customers. I enjoy giving other people my opinions, so lording over a dressing room while ladies tried stuff on was right up my alley.
But there were some head-shaking moments; situations where I’d find myself whispering, “Really?” to a fellow legging-folder.
One customer, who’d tried on pretty much half the store and had me running around trying to find her size in a few items — emerged from her dressing room holding a handful of items she was buying and said, “You’re gonna hate me.”
And I was like, “Stop! Go on! Have a nice day!”
As she walked away, I pulled back the curtain and thought, “I totally hate her.”
Half the store lay inside out and scattered all over the floor.
And don’t even get me started about having to lift those adhesive bathing suit pantyliners off the floor with paper towels. Woof.
So, who knows? Maybe I’d been guilty of committing some of the same crimes in the past before I knew any better. My youngest daughter certainly thinks I have. Consider this my mea culpa. Shoppers, please take note:
- Clean up after yourself.
Seriously, ladies, I already have four kids and am way too old to be cleaning up after you. Don’t leave clothes inside out on the floor or piled on a chair. I’m not saying you need to hang them up perfectly to go right back out onto the floor, but putting things back on hangers is a basic courtesy. Like using the chicken wing when you sneeze. People working retail are not getting paid enough to coddle your body dysmorphia (see #3) and clean up after you. Not even close.
- Keep your hands to yourself.
I understand the urge to touch stuff when you’re shopping. I’m big on that, too. But if you’re looking through a pile of, say, t-shirts, for your size and a salesperson asks if she can help find if for you, for the love of Christ say “yes.” She is not asking to be nice. She is asking so that she doesn’t have to re-fold the entire bloody pile after your tornado hands have moved on.
- Stop feeling bad about yourself.
I have logged enough hours standing in a dressing room to say, with confidence, that most women hate their bodies. Or at the very least, certain parts of their body. This goes for women in amazing shape as well as a 91-year-old gal I helped not long ago who fretted over her upper arms. Ladies! Let’s just be happy we’re here and can afford to shop for athleisure wear! Honestly. The good news is that it’s made me super-aware of when I start to do that stuff myself. Please smack me if you hear me complaining about my midsection.
- Gentlemen: don’t harass legging folders.
To the old coot who recently suggested I pull up my shirt as I helped him pick out a couple of outfits as gifts, this is not 1977. That is no longer the culture. Just ask Harvey Weinstein. I just wish I hadn’t been so shocked when he said it that I was unable to call him out for being a scuzzy old pig. Instead, I finished helping him shop and then threw the stuff on the checkout counter — where someone gift wrapped it for him — and ran to the back of the store.
- Everyone should work in retail or the food industry at some point in their lives.
This will teach us all how not to be jerks when we’re out to eat and buying stuff.
- It’s just yoga pants.
The best part of the job was that I got to work with great women of all ages, who I slowly got to know (through my sly interrogation techniques) and learned that they were so much more than legging folders. They were studying for the LSATs or going to school to become registered nurses or working full-time in the city or auditioning for acting roles or running busy households and shuttling kids to colleges and sports tournaments. In other words, legging folding was just something they were doing on the side. I’m going to miss their company.
It was fun while it lasted but working nights and weekends started to get challenging with just a 14yo boy and a puppy left living at home. Plus, I got tired spending all the money I made on clothes. It felt like I was bartering my time for Salutation tights (although they are frigging amazing).
So, I’ve decided to commit to my writing and freelance jobs full-time and now I have drawers full of leggings and sweats to stay cozy for this new phase of my life. As do my daughters and friends.
My work here is done.
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