by Maurice Jackson.
The essence of perfume and fragrance linger in every inch of air. Star lights spot pictures of tall skinny super-models wearing nothing but sexy lingerie. All price points are in fine print on every product due to the outrageous price of said brand products. Nothing could have stripped me of my man-hood any worse than the humility of having to be inside a store designed to make a woman look and feel sexy. There were no other men in sight and I did not anticipate I seeing any for a while. The mall is full of people walking by, people of all ages and all races and I felt like every single one of them was looking at me, and their puzzled faces trying to make sense of a man wearing a walky-talky, dressed in black, walking around the store touching all the bras and panties that were hanging on the walls.
“Hi ma’am can I help you find anything?” I asked in a subtle voice that I hoped was approachable considering the awkwardness of the situation. The look I got in response to my so called approachable question was a blank stare. Her eyes and head turned side to side to ensure either her safety or to reassure her I was addressing her and no one else.
“Oh…I’m ok.” Her answer was all she could say to answer my question, but her response was short and lacking the return of comfort I hoped for. As she went on looking it was clear to me that she had no idea where anything was, but she was definitely a destination shopper. She scanned the room up and down for another fifteen minutes as I jumped from wall to wall, straightening bras on their hangers and filling gaps where merchandise had sold out. She began inching her way back towards my side of the room as I helped customer after customer. Some had nothing in particular in mind so I showed them what new products we had to offer, describing in detail the features and benefits of the technology used to make the newest addition to our collection of Body By Victoria.
Does she know how long I have worked here? Does this customer really think I don’t know she has boobs and is maybe looking for a way to support them in a comfortable way because her old and raggedy bra is probably tearing in all angles of the cup? Does she understand that I know more about these bras than she may ever know, and I know the best bra for her based on the shape of her breast? Does she understand that I can observe that her breast is bulging out of her bra through her shirt that I know she is already wearing the wrong size? People like this under estimate me as a man and they think I know nothing when in reality I know more about the fitting of a bra than she could ever probably understand. I am not a pervert, I am an educated manager who understands your needs and wants you as a customer.
“Umm…excuse me, you work here right?” This lady is crazy. Would I be walking around in an all-black dress shirt and slacks, with a walky-talky on my belt and the ear-piece in my ear if I did not work here?
“No ma’am I am just checking the area for any lost or stolen bras, I am an intruder.” My sarcasm may have come off a bit harsh but a customer service smile works in these moments. I laugh.
“I am kidding, yes I do work here can I answer any questions for you?” Did she somehow forget that I just asked her for help?
Now she laughs. “ Oh my gosh I’m so sorry, I was so hesitant to ask you anything, I was kinda like who is this guy and what is he doing in here? Weird.”
I could only put on my customer service smile and fake laugh with her ignorance.
“I didn’t know guys could work here.”
I never hear that one, only when people realize I work here, then that’s always the first thing out of their mouths. “Oh yea we do, it’s not hard to get a job, you just have to prove that you know a lot about bras and women.” I said nodding my head and trying another joke.
“Really?” No! Do you believe everything I say.
“No, no, no I am only kidding, there are actually a few of us, we just tend to do stock in the early mornings, but I have found a way to climb up that ladder and I have been promoted to a sales floor supervisor for a little over a year now.”
“Oh wow that is so cool! So what do you do with your discount? You can’t buy stuff for yourself here.” Another cliché question, this was only the millionth time I have heard this one.
“Oh well I usually don’t buy anything but every once in a while I will buy something for my girlfriend.” I see the reaction in her face, big turn off, and I don’t mind. You are a customer, and this is my job, I am not here to pick up on women. I look down to see her bag and it is filled with a combination of things, but none in which I could see her wearing.
“Well I wanted to know if you could help me find a bra, you see mine is old and it is just falling apart. I love this bra, I bought it from J.C. Penny’s about a year ago and I have just become so attached, it is like a part of me now.”
This has got to come to an end, you cannot torture a bra for a year and expect it to support you the way it did when you first bought it. With an exchange of names, and a quick tour of what bras I know she would like, I sent her on her way into the fitting room where they help her with fit issues and measuring her out of a badly fitting bra. Her once wondering eyes and skeptical hesitations were leveled when I did my part as a customer service employee and allowed her to observe my accredited ability to assist her.