By the Skin of My Teeth

I escaped. I got out. My sentence was commuted.

Well, I still have 9 days left of the obligatory two weeks notice.

I got a new job. A real career. Something I WANT to do.

And I got out of my old one with enough of my sanity intact, that scientists may be able to stem-cell match the remnants of my DNA and return me to a state of “normalcy”.

I worked retail.

For those of you who have traveled this path…waged this war, you can stop reading. Everything from here forward will be redundant.

For those of you who have not, buckle up and enjoy the ride.

I was a Personal Wardrobe Stylist at one of the top three department stores in the country…an immediately recognizable name associated with luxury clothing.  And my fashion and sales background consisted of saving lives and putting out fires.  In other words…none.  I was able to acquire the knowledge in a relatively short period of time and was blessed with an eye for spatial and color relationships…and I was smart enough to listen to folks who knew more than I.

I applied for the job because I was an unemployed man in his late forties whose savings was running out and for whom the State of California fortuitously decided would be better off without a driver’s license for a year.  And this place was close enough that I could sling my suit jacket over the back of my bicycle and ride to work.

I am forever grateful for the job and the opportunity it afforded me. The company was top-notch and I met some wonderful people along the ride.

But it was retail.  And the greater the heights in the retail scale you go, the greater the level of entitlement of your clients. One more caveat before I launch into my rant…I met some incredibly decent human beings as clients and hope to retain personal relationships with them all.  But…

There is the clearly dysfunctional man with money that walks in and unconsciously laments the regrettable size of his penis and hopes to rectify it by summarily abusing the “help”…in other words, the sales staff.  He’s the guy who generally doesn’t have a clue about fashion or fit and has stumbled through his shopping experiences by pissing off all who are unfortunate enough to greet him. He is the ultimate douche-bag.  The guy looks down his nose at you (though he is often vertically challenged) as he barks out his demands.  He is never satisfied and is not clear on the concept that he is buying off-the-rack clothing. It was not made by a higher power specifically for his dimensions and yes, there will be some imperfections.  He will not hesitate to point them out.

There is the celebrity or athlete that demands your immediate attention, and after having busted your ass to accommodate their “needs”, will unceremoniously return said merchandise, resulting in yet another deduction from your paycheck.

Oh, did I forget to mention it’s a commission gig?

There is nothing quite like the highs of a big sale, or the soul-crushing low of yet another return.  Our favorites were the women who bought several of the same or similar things and flat-out told you most, if not all of it, was coming back.  “No problem ma’am, we’ll gladly return it” and you can go fuck yourself under my breath…

Other than douchebag #1, described above, the worst possible customer is the guy coming in to buy a suit for his son. It’s a rite of passage that Dad feels the need to demonstrate complete and total control.  And for me, this generally entailed keeping my ego at bay as best I could for an hour or so as Dad turns the experience into a train wreck for all involved, because A) He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and B) Because he’s too proud to admit it in front of his son.  These always turned out bad.

In general, men were much easier to work with…were willing to listen, didn’t return as much…and didn’t see shopping as a sport, like a lot of women do.  I hated serving most women.  These soulless retail leeches would walk in with their vacant stares and black Amex cards and proceed to slam the retail version of heroin…all while using you like a spoon and a bic lighter while they heated their black tar hauls and fed another spiritual fix.

I was a drug dealer. I provided a route and a product for a lot of mentally and spiritually ill people.

It was sad.

On August 6th I begin an entirely different journey in a critically important field and I am so excited. To the co-workers I leave behind I say this: I worked as a Paramedic and a Fire Captain for 21 years and my 5 years in retail were, by far, the most physically and mentally demanding years of my life.  Hang in there and get an exit strategy. To those of you with no ethics and whom are driven by fear…you are living in hell already…Karma is a bitch and I implore you to find some peace.

There is life after retail…


About Conversations With The Moon

Divorced father of two amazing young adults. College student, plodding away at a liberal arts degree. Formerly a Fire Captain and Paramedic. Dabbler in fashion. Liberal. Believer in Karma. View all posts by Conversations With The Moon

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