The Mall And Other Horrors (published 3/2006)

A few weeks ago, something strange happened to me. I joined a special club—one only a privileged few join. “The Retail Club”. That’s right…I got a job. After months on the unemployment circuit, I got tired of my lack of fundage and decided to get a job. I was hired as a “part-timer” at an extremely pink store in the mall, or as I like to call myself, a “lowly minion”.
This was my first major mistake: getting hired at an all-pink store. If you like pink, that’s great. Pink is actually a nice color in most circumstances…but when forced to stare at a pink wall for 5 hours, it gets old. Really fast.
To share with you how much I…enjoyed….working there, I think I’ll share a few things I learned since becoming employed.
If the clothes don’t fit, it is not my fault. Really. I understand that it can be hard to find clothes that fit and look good, but is there any reason to complain to me about it? This leads me to number 2:
We do not make the clothes. Funny enough, there is no magical sewing machine in the back that turns out clothes while you wait. I do not know why a zipper is pink, or a seam is yellow. Please do not ask. I enjoy the show “Project Runway”, but I am not the designer. And no, the hood of that sweatshirt does not come in a different color.
Sales. I like to shop. I like to find things for a low price. This means I like sales. Most people like sales. Most people understand that some things go on sale when others don’t. However, threatening me with a lawsuit because an item you want is not on sale is not a great way to make friends.
There are no magical fairies in the mall. Contrary to popular belief, the elves do not come at night to straighten the store. No gnomes come to sort the shoes, and no little gremlins straighten up the dresses when the lights go out. That’s my job. Which means every time someone throws a shirt under a rack or cleverly hangs something up inside out on the wrong rack, I have to pick it up and put it back. Which, while entertaining in the first 15 minutes, gets really old after the first 4 ½ hours.
The power of invisibility. A funny thing happens to you when you join “The Retail Club”—you gain the amazing powers of invisibility! It must be really weird for someone to see clothes they tried on magically floating across the store, or seeing the cash register ring up purchases by itself, but apparently it’s okay. I mean, it couldn’t be anything else, right? Why else would someone ignore your question or just brush right by you while pretending not to see the giant pile of clothes they just kicked over?
Cell Phones. I like cell phones. I own a cell phone. I even talk on it sometimes! But there are some people who are going to have to have surgery to have the cell phone detached from their ear. Then they complain about the poor service they received while shopping. (Hint: maybe if I could tell whether or not you’re referring to me when you order a large pizza after I ask if I can get you anything I would be able to help you more.)
I really did learn a lot during my 3 ½ weeks of employment (yes, I quit—but that’s a whole other column). Much of it was job related, but some of it was about human nature…and how truly evil the people who take fifty things into the dressing room at once are.

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