Bright Lights and Cityscapes

May 30, 2012 at 10:00 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s a Saturday. I’m standing in a small alcove in the back of Ross, flanked by fitting rooms on either side of me. There is a 15 foot tall face of a woman on the wall behind me–it’s creepy, and new—and I am slightly hung over from having a couple more drinks than I usually do with friends the night before. The silver lining is that while working the fitting room is by far the most dull assignment, it is also the easiest to do hung over. I’m 10 feet away from the drinking fountain, and 60% of my time is spent standing in one place. I also enjoy it because I have time to think. No one expects me to be busy the whole time, and from my vantage I can see more or less the entire store. This is fortunate, because people watching is an activity I take some pleasure in.

The best times are when the store is decently full, but not so much so that the fitting room is swamped with people trying on dresses (always with young-ish females, anywhere from 15-30). An attractive female, about my age, hands me 5 dresses to count before she heads in to try them on. She smiles at me, and for an instant I am debonair and charming; she is sweet, kind, and musical. We fall in love and live happily forever. I hand her back the dresses and a small white piece of plastic with the number 5 on it. I am a slightly hung over Ross employee who probably should have shaved this morning. My stomach grumbles.

I am leaning on the metal T-stand that serves as the barrier between the back of the alcove where I arrange clothes to be later put away. My break inches closer. 20 feet away a 30ish married couple looks at lingerie teddies while toting about one of the most adorable children I’ve ever seen. I contemplate the possibility of being alone forever, but that’s just the hangover talking. I always wonder about the differences between people, in how they think and feel about simple (even asinine) things. For instance, based on the camo shorts, sleeveless shirt, and trucker hat on the father, coupled with the stereotypical country fashion the mother was wearing I just assumed that they were more conservative people. But there they are, discussing the merits of bright pink vs. black with little red hearts on lingerie outfits I have a hard time imagining anyone fitting into. Which is something my socially liberal family would probably never do–we’re all for the most part conservative when it comes to our personal behavior. I don’t have a problem with lingerie, I just don’t see myself talking about it with a toddler in one hand in a crowded store. Maybe one day I will, but at the moment my observations are interrupted by a woman handing back several pairs of pants that either didn’t fit or looked bad.

When someone hands me their unwanted garments, I hang them up on a kind of clothing purgatory before I determine their respective fates. For the most part it’s easy enough to tell what goes where, but when you’re not sure (and even when you are, just in case Ross has decided to be tricky) the tag spells it out clearly. Jr vs Ladies dresses, Young Men vs Men’s shirts, etc. My favorite label has to be the women’s athletic shorts and pants, though. They’re all labeled “MS Active Bottom” and I always imagine this B-list rapper or hip hop artist with that name. Then I feel all awkward when I’m holding a pair of yoga pants and grinning like an idiot and notice someone waiting for me to count their clothes and hand them a little piece of plastic with a number on it.

Approximately half the people who come to the back of Ross just need to use the restroom. It’s slightly confusing because the fitting rooms are on either side of the alcove, but just in front of the entrance to the Men’s fitting room there is a door labeled “RESTROOMS–No Merchandise Allowed.” On this door, there is a keypad lock. To get in one must either type in the code, or someone on the opposite side of the alcove needs to press a small red button that overrides the lock. For whatever reason, it never is as simple as you would imagine it to be. Sometimes people just start walking into a fitting room, even though they are clearly labeled “FITTING ROOM.” I’m always slightly annoyed by these people, not because they decided that reading signs is overrated but because they always deliberately ignore me as they rush in. As if I were going to tell them that they couldn’t use the bathroom, but with their speediness it would be too late for me and they’d be home free. As much as I would love to ignore them back, I can’t go about letting them shit in a dressing room. I have to say something.

“Excuse me, are you looking for the restroom?”

The customer inevitably glares at me for being so forward as to talk to them.

“The restrooms are just right through that door there,” I say with my best customer service smile. I hold down the little red button. There is a slight click as it unlocks.

My favorite part of this interaction is the incredulity. Always the disbelief. Sometimes it’s accompanied by them pointing at the “FITTING ROOM” sign, sometimes a slight huff, always the look that tells me in no uncertain terms that I am an imbecile. On occasion, the person isn’t rude, and I feel bad for their honest mistake. Most of the time, though, my customer service smile becomes a real smile, though, as I point to the door with the keypad lock.

“It’s right through there, ma’am. It’s the one labeled “RESTROOMS.”

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