Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sins in Retail πŸ†

There are few things Mrs. George holds near and dear: a. Being the schedule monitor for all of us managers and 2. Proper usage of the overhead paging system. Nothing and I mean NOTHING (!!) sticks in Mrs George’s craw MORE Than improper (ie unprofessional) usage of the overhead paging system.

I walk in to our office one morning to find Mrs George VERY red faced and full of anger!! No salutations, no smile.. No nod of greeting.. She simply starts her tirade.. “You will NEVER believe what happened last night!!! T used the overhead paging system like it was a TOY! A JOKE! She was the most UNPROFESSIONAL PERSON I can think of”! Seemingly unfazed by my lack of an audible gasp (or any reaction whatsoever) Mrs George continues… We closed last night and she was calling out the open registers and she was loud and annoying and she used that high pitched voice of hers!!!! I can’t believe she was being like that!! It just made my skin crawl! What if someone heard?? What if someone complains???!!!”

Seriously?? There are children starving, people are homeless, countries are fighting wars and she’s stressed out about how T sounds on the paging system???? I looked, mouth agape at Mrs. George, stunned at her outrage, and thinking that this is the dumbest thing someone could be upset about.. I just sat there!

Misinterpreting my reaction, Mrs George said “I know!! See! I thought the same thing!!!”

I had to laugh!!!! πŸ† clueless!! Love it!!

Turning point πŸ†

From the moment I first started at this store there has been a certain amount of animosity I felt directed at me. A general coolness if you will. I took it personally at first. But then I realized… I’m not a plastic! THAT’S why they don’t like me!! I’m not exactly like them. And with a sigh of relief I thought “Oh thank GOD! I don’t wanna be like them!! I’m good with this”
mrs George was cordial, and at times she even vented a bit.. Maybe even shared a tid bit of (what I called) non angry information. Rare. But it happened.
There was one day however that I began to think about (in retrospect) as “the turning point”. That was the day the media announced there would be a 50 shades of grey: the movie!!! With excitement that is usually reserved for small children on Christmas morning, Mrs. George met me at the office door. Bouncing from foot to foot she said “I’ve been waiting for you!” I replied, “well, is this a girls going to the bathroom in pairs thing? Because I just went and I don’t feel like walking all the way to the bathroom with you just so you can talk to me while you pee”

I was once again met with her withering stare as she said “such a smart ass ALL the time, aren’t you? Well, for your information, I don’t have to pee!” I said.. “Oh is this a new exercise then?? Cuz I hate exercise!” mrs George just looked at me , sighed heavily and said “JESUS lord shut up and listen!! There is going to be a NEW 50 shades of grey movie!! They haven’t cast it yet, and I don’t know when they’ll start filming it, but I was wondering.. (As she’s looking down) if you would like to go with me when it premieres?? My husband won’t go and well, I know you like the books too so you wanna?” Now, at the tip of my tongue was a smart ass comment like “oh, it’s like prom!!” Or, “wow! A date with you for an as yet cast, or filmed movie for some obscure time in the future??? Sure!!” But instead, looking at Mrs George and realizing she had no other girlfriends she could (or would) ask, I said proudly “yes Mrs George! I will go to the movies with you, but you must know I require a large popcorn with butter AND salt, a large dr pepper and a package of junior mints. Now, I don’t share so you are on your own for your snacks!” And with that statement a very tiny smile appeared on Mrs George’s lips and she said “okay, good” and I actually felt like this was a good thing. A turning point in our work relationship. Until she said, “now, Penelope, don’t tell anyone we are going and I’ll deny I ever asked you! Don’t embarrass me!”

And with that, turning point vanished. Sweetness gone. Plastics returned!

Maybe someday I’ll get to see the real Mrs George. Unless this is it. Lord help me.


OJ Gloves

Directly following Mrs George’s foray into the depths of depression (cause: cardboard) she started wearing gloves to work in the stockroom, and sometimes the glove wearing spilled into the office. Mrs George’s choice of gloves was intimidating (!!) {to say the least}. The very first day she walked into the office with them on, my first thought was “sweet baby JESUS!! Please tell me she’s not here to kill me!” My second thought was “oh sweet baby JESUS tell me she’s not killing someone in the back stockroom!!” And without even thinking about it, I looked from her hands to her face and blurted out, “what the hell??”

In typical Mrs George fashion, she says only one word “cardboard” as she stomps out of the room. I immediately thought.. “I need to talk to Bailey Johnson!! He will know what to do!” I debated texting him for about 30 seconds before Mrs George made her second appearance.. This time to sip water.. While wearing the gloves.. And then she proceeded to adopt her favorite stance… (Right hand on hip, left leg extended) and said.. “I seriously feel like I could kill one or all of my associates! Listen to this Penelope: I found ties back in the stockroom, and men’s shoes, and Calvin Klein sweaters and things we haven’t sold in YEARS back there! What are they doing??? ??? Are they HOARDING stuff back there!! Do you think they are stealing?? ( she whispers stealing like I whisper cancer..) I’m so mad I could spit Penelope”

I take a deep breath, contemplating where to go with this… Until I was forced to say the only thing that came to mind. And that was, “mrs George those gloves scare me. They are kinda like OJ gloves. Please don’t kill me!” And with a vague Gesture towards her desk… She said “I have different gloves over there.. I bought multiple pairs” and on that note, Mrs George saunters off again leaving me alone with my thoughts. Would she kill me?? Is she capable of killing one of her associates? What are the warning signs?? What should I look out for??

The next morning while talking to Bailey Johnson and awarding PhEmmys, he suggested I look for large pieces of plastic on the stockroom floor. I asked what else he thought… And he said: Chloroform! Always check for chloroform!!! After I was able to regain my breath from laughing my ass off.. I thought “wow!! He’s right!!” He recently added.. “Penelope, please always check for a chloroform rag and don’t EVER EVER smell ANYTHING if she asks you to!!” From that moment on, I will FOREVER check her desk area for two things: chloroform and plastic. The OJ GLOVES sit precariously perched on her desk.. Constantly at the ready for whatever task she chooses?!! God help me.


Is butter a carb?? πŸ†

Every morning we have a manager meeting in Mr. Duvall’s office prior to store opening. We discuss business, plan the day ahead and generally commiserate as to what needs to get done. Typically, these are light hearted meetings run by Mr. Duvall. He will generally start (or end) with a joke or a funny story. This morning’s joke was about an email he sent all of us. This attempt at a motivational email was tagged at the end with, “ask not what your store can do for you but ask what you can do for your store.” Pretty funny. Cute quip.

So, this morning Mr. Duvall says..”well, did you all read my email?? Did you like my tag line??” Giggles ensued.. Murmurs of yes that’s cute!! While Regina George sat there in front of Mr. Duvall with the WORST smirk I’ve ever seen on someone’s face. (It inspired me to WANT to say.. Don’t make that face Regina!! It’ll freeze like that.. I thought better of it tho.. I think it’s ALREADY frozen on her face. ) πŸ˜πŸ˜‚. So Mr. Duvall said.. “Regina.. What’s wrong?? Wasn’t that funny?? You DO know who said that right??” To which, Regina simply shrugged her shoulders and said, “uh DUH no I have no idea where that came from or what it means. What are you talking about??! (Insert eye roll here)”

The room filled with silence. UTTER and COMPLETE silence. Nothing not a word, no one breathed. No one said anything. Except Regina. She said “what? I didn’t find that funny in the least Mr. Duvall! I don’t think you are funny at all!” Incredulously, he looked at her and said.. “You’ve got to be kidding me.. Right?? You know JFK said ‘ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Regina’s terse reply (accompanied by an eye roll or 4..) “Um, no I don’t and I don’t know why you keep asking me that. Geez!”

The collective IQ in the room dropped. Mr Duvall’s assistant murmured under her breath.. “Maybe the hair dye has seeped into her brain” and with that, meeting adjourned.

I can’t make this shit up.

Cardboard!! Cardboard!! Cardboard!! πŸ†

There’s a famous line from the movie “Mommie Dearest” where Faue Dunaway (as Joan Crawford) wigs out and spews “NO WIRE HANGERS!!” With as much venom and cra cra style as anyone else in cinematic history.
It was with as much (if not more) venom that Mrs. George stomped into the office yelling “Cardboard! Cardboard! Cardboard!” on a bleak December day! (“What fresh hell is this??” I silently wonder to myself.) the countdown begins… 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and she’s off πŸ‡. “Penelope! I’ve had ENOUGH of this cardboard! I’m done!! Look at my hands!! They are dry!! This cardboard sucks all of the moisture!! I’ve cut my hands three times today and I swear!! I swear!! This rash is because of all this damn cardboard. I hate it. I hate unpacking the shoes! I hate putting them away. I hate even touching the shoes! Those stupid shoe boxes.. The stupid shoe containers. Look.. I chipped a nail.. I’m telling you Penelope in my next life, or maybe even my next JOB I REFUSE to work around cardboard. I’m not gonna do it!”

So, I said.. “Mrs George, are you saying that you aren’t gonna go work at the box factory then?? Is that correct??”

“Mmmph. Don’t be a smart ass Penelope. ” I said “Mrs george I’m sorry I’m kidding. I don’t necessarily know that your skin issues are from the cardboard boxes. Do you think you are dry from 38 straight days of subzero temperatures?? Temperatures so cold even gloves can’t protect your skin!!?”

I literally saw a lightbulb turn on right over her head as Mrs George repeated softly.. ‘Gloves. That’s it. Gloves. I need gloves” Mrs george turned her back on me.. Walking out of the room, enlightened… Unbeknownst to me.. This was the birth of the (are they OJ’s) glove wearing!! And so it goes..


Our Regulars!!

We do have “regulars” at the Big D. Now, you may be thinking.. Of course you have regulars…. They must come in and spend a lot. However, I’m not referring to regular clients.. I mean.. Regular People.. People fighting their own Demons (either inwardly or awkwardly on the outside) who walk through the store, spend some time with us or in some cases have NEVER said a word to ANY of us but are there every day regardless. These are my favorite people. I hold a special place in my heart for EACH of them… There are 3 “regulars” who I worry about if I don’t see on a normal basis.

Regular number one.. “Claire. Claire is in her 80’s, dresses like she’s in her 60’s, is dripping in jewels from diamonds to sapphires to emeralds and rubies and yet douses herself everyday With my Chanel No 5 tester because she “can’t afford it” !! Every day she says.. “Hi Penelope!! I’m doing my morning walk! I’ll be by to use your No 5!! See you later!!” God love her. She’s sweet (albeit cheap) and very lonely since her husband died. She comes to the mall every single day to power walk and be among people.

Next is my absolute favorite. In my mind I call her “tennis ball”. She’s about 115 years old (if a day) and uses a walker … For the longest time she had these squeaky tennis balls on the bottom of her walker.. You could hear her on the other side of the mall. I always knew she was coming!! I don’t know her name because she has never spoken one word to me. She is a serious older woman, she wears FABULOUS bejeweled brooches and FABULOUS large pieces of costume jewelry that is season appropriate! (Id like to think my collection will be as vast as hers when I’m 115 too) Tennis ball never buys a thing. Doesn’t shop, doesn’t ask where anything is. Never requires help. She just wheels herself around the store. Determined to get out and about, get exercise and fresh air and be among her fellow humans. Well, one day she didn’t show up, one day turned into 2 days and then 7 days and then 20 days and finally on the 21st day, Tennis Ball shows up with a BRAND new walker, sans tennis balls. No squeaking, no announcement she’s on her way!! Just tennis ball!! Taking care of business and out and about. There’s something comforting about her being in the store.

My third favorite regular is S. S is a young lady, probably mid to late 20’s. S is a young woman who lays it all out there. She walks through the store and the mall talking to herself, talking to herself through her ipad, talking to herself on her phone. She argues with herself, her imaginary friends.. Her boyfriend .. Who knows?? But she’s completely 100% comfortable in her own skin. Nothing bothers her (at least that we see) and she continues talking and chattering away. And I’m always just a bit in awe of her. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone quite as comfortable in their own existence as she is. It’s refreshing. And who knows?? Maybe she is the SANE one who really IS talking to real people and WE are the INSANE ones who don’t see it!!?? Could be!! You never know. Bottom line is, she’s living her own life on her own terms and we should give her kudos. It’s about perspective…. From the lonely talkative Claire, to the elderly quiet tennis ball to the young woman who talks to herself… They are all out there.. Living.. Being true to themselves. And it just goes to show you, everyone is battling something in their life. Be kind. always.


There’s just something about a Sunday

I’ve worked retail for the last 19 years. That’s approximately 350 or so Sundays worked. Give or take a couple hundred. Back in the day (Which is NORMALLY a Wednesday but in this case it’s a Sunday to which I’m referring) {😁😁} .. Anyway.. As I was saying.. Back in the day.. When I worked in the bookstore, Sundays were my most FAVORITE days to work… The day was spent with two coworkers, a couple bottles of snapple, my favorite Italian sub (the best sub shop ever btw) and books, books, books. Sunday was our slowest day but was perfect for ambling up and down the aisles, picking up classics, or new books, or beloved books which felt like old friends. We’d each get lost in the book… Sometimes we’d have a lively debate, a lazy conversation with our favorite customers or just enjoy quiet reading time!! It was calm, peaceful.. FUN!!

Now, fast forward 19 years later.. Picture this.. Dreading Sundays at the Big D!! As I pull up on my once a month Sunday to work I can’t help but shudder a bit.. I picture the race car flag in my mind … 🏁 and a voice says… “And they’re off!!!!!!!!” πŸ‡ I have YET to work a Sunday at the Big D that wasn’t a WILD AND CRAZY SUNDAY!! Sometimes those Sundays entail employee theft, or escalator issues… Or one giant issue after another.. However, there’s one common denominator each and every Sunday: the people!! Sunday customers are unlike any other clients any day of the week!! I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out why!! I can’t place it. Each Sunday we have a line of people outside of each entrance (like clockwork) and I always look around for the bus from the “home”. I never find it.

Sunday brings the crabby people, the hungover people, the high strung people who complain because the mannequin “looks angry” (I kid you not.. I’ve had that complaint). Today was no different…

9 minutes into store opening.. Called to customer service because a woman who refused to give me her name but stated she was a lawyer (and wishes she could sue for poor customer service ) wanted to complain about an accessories associate who didn’t pay any attention to her.

10 minutes after that another customer wanted to return a handbag. It didn’t work for her. She purchased it 3 years ago. It just broke. Could it be because your 3 year old just yanked it down off your shoulder by the handle, dragged it across the floor and then kicked it like a soccer ball?? Maybe? Could be?!

As I’m ready to scream “Calgon, take me away…” I am paged yet again to a customer who doesn’t understand why I can’t override the coupon (which she doesn’t have) which expired 3 and a half months ago.

On my way to customer service to ascertain where a dress may be (or may not be) in transit via fed ex (or maybe not) I’m stopped and asked if we have restrooms and if we have spring jackets?? I gleefully answered … “No we have neither I’m so sorry!!! ” And went on about my day!!!!

I love retail but HATE Sundays!!!

Bathroom Questions

Working in a large retail store means that at times we, as employees, are asked a LOT of questions.. My FAVORITE questions include (but are not limited to) :

*Do you have a bathroom here? (I would LOVE to respond.. No, I’m sorry.. We don’t.. When wehave to pee we just run down to Nordstrom)

*What’s the return policy at Saks? (I have no idea because you aren’t INSIDE Saks!)

*How do I get to …… (Insert any store here..) I see a directory but I have no idea how to read that shit.. Just tell
Me where to go. (REALLY?? Let me walk you there..)

*What time do you close? What time does the mall close?? Why do you not have a JCPEnny in this mall??

*How could YOU discontinue this product?? (Because they called me at home and asked my opinion.. I knew you liked it so I said discontinue it)

But my FAVORITE question is:

*Do you know where the bathroom is?? (My FAVORITE answer to that is.. No, I’ve worked in this building for 2 years and I have yet to find it. When you find it, could you come back and tell me where it is?)

Gotta love questions!!!



Daily 3 o’clock meetings in the retail world are normal and sometimes can be fun!! On a bright and sunny afternoon last week I experienced one of the fun ones and shockingly (!!) mrs George was a part of that !! Mrs George had a particularly bizarre interview that day (an interview where the candidate actually used the f word pretty liberally) Mrs George was in a state of shock and awe about all of this and clearly felt the need to share the circumstances with the entire group! This is good! Rarely does Mrs George share with the group!! This was tantamount to her sharing her “feelings” it’s a big deal. So her story inspired other bizarro interview stories being shared around the table. Not one to be outdone, and not one to not partake in the conversation.. I hear mrs george say: “well, listen to this one! I once had a woman interview who was convicted of a felony. For selling meat out of her basement. Seriously.” I wasn’t outraged or necessarily seeing the shock and awe factor, but said the first thing that came to my mind which was “that sounds like code.” To which, our visual manager, D, responded with “yeah, sounds like she was actually selling her ladymeat in the basement”.
The room ERUPTED in laughter… Ladymeat became our word of the day and Mrs. George, angry at being one upped yet again, stomped off in a rage!