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Welcome back to the Retail Diaries, in which an anonymous sales associate at a high-end Manhattan department store reveals what it's like on the other side of the cash register. Note: Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the innocent.
Photo by Bairachnyi Dmitry/Shutterstock
In the middle of yet another dead week, the New Girl managed to find herself the only woman in the store willing to let loose her purse strings. I scowled as I watched her ring up item after item, and marveled at her customer's lovely taste—the sheer-sleeved Helmut Lang blazer, the pastel blue ALC trouser, the Phillip Lim leather pants, the Thakoon Addition printed silk maxi dress.
"What a load of bullshit. She didn't even help that lady," my co-worker, Jess, hissed.
"Beginner's luck. You can't beat it," I said, shaking my head.
New Girl wasn't exactly gelling well with our team, a close-knit group of twenty-something girls (and a couple of gays). On her first day, she was wearing a wrap dress with a thick corset belt and a turtleneck underneath. And riding boots. We said nothing, of course, and tried to give her a fair shot.
But after New Girl got her first paycheck, rewarded by over-eager hustling of customers, her beginner's luck turned into full-fledged greed. Soon, we felt our own productivity plummet. Every customer that walked into the section was hers! She ran to them as soon as they appeared, crudely approaching with, "Would you like to start a fitting room?"
Jess and I, not the types to start a fight, instead resigned ourselves to our new fate. Since nothing was happening on the floor that day and our manager was off, we decided to order delicious cheeseburgers from a place next door and eat them in the fitting room.
Any sign of outside food or drink is explicitly not allowed on the sales floor, for obvious reasons, so when I spotted Jess running into the fitting room area, I went sprinting after her. We appeared just as one young girl was emerging from a room. "Nothing worked," she said.
"Okay, great," Jess replied, this time genuinely not caring about missing a sale. She took the chair, and I sat next to her on the floor. After peeling back the tin foil from
our burgers, we each took tremendous, hearty bites "Why is this so good?" Jess asked the burger, staring at the cheese oozing out of it. I rolled my eyes at her and laughed.
But then I looked down and couldn't help letting out a high-pitched shriek of horror. I leaped to my feet and practically ran through the door, running for refuge behind the cash register. And, fully aware that the commotion was about to attract a significant crowd, I sacrificed my burger to the trashcan next to the computer,
"What's wrong?" asked New Girl, but before I could even answer, Jess emerged from the fitting room with the same look of disgust on her face, her mouth in the shape of a permanent gasp.
"What's going on?" one of New Girl's clients asked, appearing behind Jess.
"Nothing, ma'am, I am so sorry for the commotion," I said.
"What did you see in that fitting room?" she asked.
Jess and I locked eyes. The fear had now turned into laughter. "We have a...housekeeping issue to take care of," I said. Perhaps New Girl could move her client to a fitting room elsewhere?
Later that day, a maintenance crew would later arrive to dispose of the used tampon that was left on our fitting room. The floor would be properly shampooed, and the entire area thoroughly vacuumed and sprayed with air freshener. But we would never eat in the fitting room again.
Some would call this a lesson learned. I choose to call it something different: absolutely disgusting. And to the woman who left the tampon behind—who has famously been renamed 'Bloody Mary' by the contemporary sales floor—should your eyes ever fall upon this entry: We hope you feel nothing but shame.
· Department Store Dispatch: Drama in Lingerie Land [Racked NY]
· Department Store Dispatch: Six Common Lies from Salespeople [Racked NY]
· Department Store Dispatch: It's Raining Jimmy Choos [Racked NY]