Friday, October 17, 2008
Yes, that's me, in the bottom centre of this photo. I was 21 years old and it was my first retail job!! I felt like I had finally made it. My sister and I had loved this clothing store as teenagers and, sadly enough, thought that the people who worked there were the coolest people on the planet (One exception is the Fall of '85 when we were asked to leave the store because the employees felt that we were loitering. We definitely were not loitering! We just couldn't make up our minds about what shaker knit sweater and leopard print loafers to buy with our $400.00 in hard-earned, "back-to-school-shopping-harvest-money").
Well, it only took a month of employment for me to realize that this was not the coolest job in the world. Firstly, the store was located near the food court in the mall. All day I would smell fried onions and stale coffee and watch people eat while I didn't even have enough money to buy a plain pita because I had spent it all on clothes that I just felt I had to have!! (But, it was the only time in my adult life in which I only weighed 118 pounds. I thought that I looked hot. In retrospect, I guess I was). Secondly, part of our earnings were commission based, with sales targets and all of that fun stuff. It was becoming a challenge to tell people that their outfit looked great on them when it was 2 sizes too small. I was also the witness to boyfriends excitedly peering over the dressing room door as their size 0 girlfriends disrobed. I was envious as I would hear the girls' sly chuckles. If that had been me in the dressing room, all that anyone would have heard were mortified shrieks. Another drawback to my position was accepting returns from customers. As long as the return was accompanied by a receipt, we would take it back. I swear, some of the items reaked of perfume and were still warm. I was also there for the bodysuit fad. Every night at closing, my manager would have to remind me to do up the snaps on the gussets when we were tidying the store. That task repulsed me so much that I began to trade off jobs with my fellow co-workers. I would mop floors, Windex mirrors, take out the garbage, whatever they needed me to do in order to avoid that wretched chore!
I was there for four years. In that time, employees came and went and I found myself working with different teams over the years. This month I was invited to a staff reunion. Some of us are married, while some of us are living in apartments with our cats (okay, I can only speak for myself). Our lives have changed, but I am so excited that this event will bring us all together. We haven't seen each other in 14 years! I have already chosen my outfit (I will not be wearing a stitch of clothing from that store. After I lost my staff discount, I stopped shopping there)and booked my train ticket. I am sure that I will have lots of stories for you. It should be a great time, as long as there aren't any warm bodysuits in the mix.