Monday, December 20, 2010

A Cup and a Half of Entitlement

Ring Ring.

" Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah,this is _____, "

"Yes,this is Ina gartens' assistant calling. I am with Ina,we are in the neighborhood of the store and she would like to come in and do a little shopping."


"Here's the thing,Ina isn't in to crowds. is it really busy?"

"Yes,it's pretty busy,Christmas shopping is in full swing."

"Riiggghhhttt. What we would like to do is have oe of your employees meet Ina at her car and sort of clear a path for her to get in to the store and then shield her as she shops."

"Uh huh. Well,it is pretty busy,I don't know if we can spare an employee to be a bodyguard but let me put you on with a manager.Please hold."

Entitlement.Pure and simple.Baking in a 350 degree oven until it is soft a mushy and spineless in the middle and has a hard burnt crispy crust that Ina thinks deserves a private shopping experience in one of the busiest stores in NYC during the busiest weeks of the year.

Um, you are a chubby middle aged chef. A cook. You are not Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber. You will not draw throngs of other chubby middle aged chef and chef fans/enthusiasts that will swarm around you,blocking your view of the spatulas. You will not.
Last week Natalie Portman was in the store,by herself,for two hours. Nobody bothered her. Nobody said a peep. (I watched her from a secret vantage point for about 30 minutes. It felt creepy and was the highlight of my boring day selling towels.) I felt it was a private blessing bestowed on me by a very jewish God cause it was the first day of Channukah and I was watching the worlds' most beautiful Jew.

So, No,Ina,we will not provide you with a private bodyguard that we will pay all of of $12 an hour to,before he goes back to his regular job of stocking the shelves of cheese graters.You are a multi millionaire. Get your own body guard. You are a rich woman. You make a really nice bread pudding. But you are rather boring and in no world in the universe are people swarming  you in giant tv chef frenzied crowds. Sorry babe.

 She never showed.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Husband Shopping

Husbands of NYC and the Greater Metropolitan area, this is what I hear over and over and over from your wives, "He doesn't want to be involved in the process of choosing anything at all for our home. He won't come to the store, he won't look at fabric samples, he won't look online. But,he wants the final say on all the decisions."

Husbands,I think you play wonderful roles in the world. I myself am hoping to have one of you for myself someday soon. However,this practice,this attitude is kinda gross. You may be the boss at the office but acting like the CEO at home is a turnoff. Why do you get to swoop in at the last minute and say "I will allow it."?? Your wife and I just spent 4 days choosing styles,fabrics,finishes and deciding on furniture requirements and placement. Now we gotta wait for the bigshot with the wallet to say he likes it,or he will allow it,or where's my leather chair and does it recline? No fair!!!!

From my experience,many men shop for leather things. They shop for soft things,things that feel like plush toys. They shop for big things.They want all chairs to accomodate a sleeping position.They respond to brown. And they ask if we sell black out curtains. We do not. (although,according to a certain person I work with,"any of these fabrics can be made in to curtains that will black out a room." This ain't true but some people cannot stand to watch customers walk out of a store without spending money first and so they will tell them lies.) And I can't say a thing.

Anyway, I just want to say Husbands, if you want to be involved in the final cut and the big payoff when the house is beautiful and everyone is saying so, then you gotta show up for practice,for scrimmages,the early morning runs and for the pep talks. Otherwise,you start to seem a little dictatorish. Look what happened to Idi Amin.

 I'm just sayin'.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mishapen Identity

"Hi,we bought a bed here,an upholstered bed. Did you wait on us?"

"I'm not sure,I do remember you though."

"Yeah,no, the girl who helped us was skinny, really skinny, I don't think it was you.I don't remember her name."

"Uh-huh.Um,was it Paula or Liza?"

"I don't know, but I don't think it was you,honey do you think it was her, did she wait on us?" (this would be the last exit available to ask me what my name is,instead of standing 16" in front of me as you discuss me. rude!!)

"I dunno."

"Great,well,how can I help you today?"

"Well, we bought an upholstered bed and we've had it for a few months and it's getting really dusty along the top. What do you do for that?"

(are you kidding me? seriously? first you obliviously run roughshod over my body issues and now you want cleaning advice? why are some people so adept  at absentmindedly dehumanizing others? and why am i so fascinated by them?!)

"Um,you,clean it. Like,dust it or vacuum it."

"Riggggghhhhht,but isn't there anything you can do to stop it from getting dusty?"


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Number One and Number Two

"Have a seat.You are aware of how busy the holidays are in retail. I just want to remind you about our corporate break policies."

He is sitting at a computer that is against the wall. I am standing behind him. He does not turn around as he talks to me. I am forced to look at the back of his head as his body language says one of two things,
 No.1) I am intimidated or, No.2) I am intimidating.

I wedge myself between the desk to his left and the side of his head.
"Um, I can't really hear you when you talk to me like that."
He still doesn't turn around but I guess the side of his head is as good as it's gonna get.
"Have a seat and shut the door."
I do.
He is holding a printed copy of an email that he has highlighted. I try not to show that I have already started laughing on the inside.

"In the future please try get everything done,that you need to get done, on your lunch break."


"So, today,you punched back in from lunch,and THEN went to the bathroom."

(NUH UNH, he did not just say that.)

"Please try to time your bathroom breaks with your lunch breaks."

"Um, we don't have to punch out to use the rest room. We get paid for restroom breaks."

He gets a little flustered now.

"You know what I mean. (I don't) Just now you punched back in from lunch and then used the restroom."

"Yeah,um, I can't really predict my bladders' behavior."

" If I were you, and I knew I was going on my lunch break, I would visit the restroom then."

"Uh huh....."

"You're not in trouble or anything. You're not getting written up."


"Great,now go sell something!!"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mother of Pearl, she's back!!!

" I didn't get a call " says a voice very close to my face.

(I didn't get an "excuse me,miss", or a "hello,can you help me" or even a throat clear.")

She is standing in front of me. I am sitting at a desk,fabric swatches in front of me,typing at a keyboard,my latest customer looking over my shoulder as I research pricing for him.

All of this is lost on her. (Note;if someone looks busy,they probably are busy)

"Excuse me,you didn't get a call?". I say,the multi tasking beginning.I apologize to the customer I am helping. The MOP curmudgeon STILL does not budge,her body language says, "It's my turn,even if it's not."

"Yes, I was in a month ago, I was put on a list to be called when the Mother of Pearl Entertaining Collection comes back into stock."

There is no list!!!

I feel sorry for the people she is entertaining. She has yet to prove capable of being entertaining to me. I wonder how bad the situation would become if I told her that I wrote her name and number on a slip of scrap paper and put it in the zippered book that is my "office" and promptly,passive aggressively forgot about it.

(Note: The Golden Ticket in retail service is this,no matter how much you have been wronged,under served,ignored,and misused as a customer,if you are kind and nice and patient,you will get whatever you want from us. The moment you sound condescending,it's on,or over.)

Yes,it's her! It's the cheese knife curmudgeon. I almost didn't recognize her without her crazy hair. This time it's blown out,and I am caught off guard!  In my experience ,crazy people usually have unmanageable,crazy hair that matches their personality.

"I don't think it's in yet",I say,hoping it isn't cause that's really what she's here for,her opportunity to get her insane self centered frustrations out on me,the woman who victimized her by NOT CALLING WHEN I SAID I WOULD!! That is almost more important than getting the friggin' tray. It's never about the Mother of Pearl. It's about letting me know how victimized you have been,you,the GREAT SHOPPER,by me,the scum idiot retail name tag.

I ask my coworkers and a manager if the stuff has come in,they tell us it has not."Sorry, it's not in yet."

"I'm on the list to be called when it arrives.Can you tell me how many people are on the list ahead of me?"

There is no LIST!!!! There is no list of other people who are waiting to get your $38.00 mass produced tray,made in the Phillipines by the thousands!!!!!!!! You are not living in reality!!!!! And who are you entertaining?? You're poor friends? Those spineless people who are afraid of you when you become even more belligerent when you're drunk and probably yell at them not to get crumbs all over the place?!?!

"You're the only one."

"Great. When will I get a call,you said you would call."
"I'll call you as soon as they arrive,even if I'm asleep,even if it's my day off, "everything I do, I do it for you.AHHHHH,yeah.There's no tray,like your tray,and no other,can have your tray..."
 God what I wouldn't give to break out in Ryan Adams song,sarcastically..!

"I think I really did get the prettiest of all the cheese knives and I am very happy with their performance. They are just working out beautifully." she mentions. (oh myyyyyyyy god. I don't care I can't care I can't I just dont pleeeeeaasse stop please stop .)

"How many are you getting,because when mine comes in I would like to compare several until I find the perfect one. " I know I remember it well and I can hardly wait to stand silently in front of you as you meticulously,annoyingly,sadly pore over mother natures' handiwork to find just which combination of 1/2" x 1/2" squares of shell please you the most.Ughhhhhhh.

"I don't know."
"How could you not know?"
God,what does it matter????!!!!!! I just don't know,meanwhile,this nice stylish,normal interesting gentleman is waiting for me to finish waiting on him because YOU interrupted us to ask your question,the most important question in the store at any given moment,right?????

If you were my Mother of Pearl tray I would melt limburger and bleu cheese on you in a 500 degree oven until it burnt and then I would put you out on the fire escape.Forever

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Retail Fever

"Ohhh,man,son,I'm buyin' all dis shit,yo!" he exclaims as he reaches the top stair and looks around the store. He is mesmerized.
It is a slow Monday morning and these two guys have the store to themselves. I listen in as they explore.
"Check it out,that's MY bed,son." he says about a beautifully made up rosewood deco bed in a queen size.It retails for $2600.00.
"Oh, MAN!! I'm buyin' ALL this shit ,YO!" his friend replies.
They plop down on the bed,see me looking,and jump back up,trying their best to refresh the bedding.
They keep walking to to the back of the store now,slowly,like two kids seeing snow for the first time,mouths agape,savoring the unexpected moments of retail beauty.
Then,they see the flat screen.
"Nigga,I want Samsung upstairs AND downstairs!"
"Yeah,son,and Ima buy all this shit and go grocery shoppin' in my pajamas!" his friend replies.
They wander over to the zebra hide rug,made from cowhide,dyed white and screen printed with a black zebra hide pattern.
"Nigga,you know what this is? That's a white tiger yo! That is fly!"
"Ima walk all ovah this shit!"
They make the final turn to complete their browse. They come upon our luxurious faux fur throws. They begin to caress and pet them.
"I'm buyin' all dis shit,son! Feel dis shit! This is Werewolf shit is what dis is!!"

I think I could love him. Yes,we come from two different worlds,but I clearly have what he wants, Samsung and fluffy beds and Zebra rugs.
He is a high level consumer of trendy consumer goods, a young man with an astute knowledge of style trends.He probably paid $300 for those kicks. He is turned out much more nicely than I am today,that is certain. He is the kind of man that doesn't leave the house unless his shit is right. I cannot say the same about myself. I imagine us getting Pinkberry together. Then, he let's me see what he has on his Ipod and then I show him my Ipod. And he laughs at Dolly Parton and he laughs at Chicago. And I know it is over before it even began.
They drift out the store and I know,I just know,that the rest of this day is all downhill .

Friday, November 12, 2010

She knows what it is ,she just didn't know what it was.

"Excuse me,what is this?"

"It's a rug."

(She is gripping a rolled up rug with one hand. It is small,about 3'x5' and made of canvas that is printed with an Ikat design in shades of tans and pea green.

"Well I KNOW it's a rug.But what IS it?"

(This exchange gets the attention of a few other shoppers and several store managers. Because it is ridiculous.
She is wearing a dusty purple felt cloche,a gorgeous camel hair coat and the ring on her finger is so large that I am getting a headache when I look at it.She's in her 70's.)
In other words,she's got the money.The money I need.

"It's a small printed canvas rug." I say,as I unroll it and display it for her.

" Yes, I can see that.Well,what size is it?"

"This is a 3'x5'."

"I see. And how big is that?"

(Um, 3'x5' is three by five.Every time.We get that question a lot,"How big is the 6'x9' rug"?)

I emphasize the lengths of it for her with my arms. She understands.

"Well, I don't know if this is right for me after all."

I know exactly what you mean lady.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ginger Darling

"Do you have a low blue and white bowl to put a plant in?"

"No, the only blue and white porcelain we carry are the ginger jars."

"Yes, I know about them, I didn't ask you about them."

"No, I dont have anything blue and white and low."

"What happened is ,I have this plant,I had it in a blue and white container that was knocked over, courtesy of the four legged one and i cant put it back on the windowsill, that would just be asking for it, so what I need is a low bowl in chinese blue and white."

"I'm sorry, I don't have anything like that. "

"Pottery Barn sent me over, they thought you might have what I want."

"We dont."

"Where else would you suggest?"

(I would suggest that you are crazy,that we call you crazy cat lady and I would suggest that you leave.)

"Um, try Pearl River Mart downtown on Grand street,they have alot of blue and white Chinese ceramics."

"Oh thats CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is a bunch of CRAP!!!!!!!! Why would anyone go down there? "

(ooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh goooooooooooooooooooooddddddddddddddd whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhyyyyare you so crraaazzzzzyyyyy when we are closing in 5 minutes!!!!?????)" We don't have it".

"I mean that is utterly ridiculous that you would suggest that anyone go all the way to Grand street when Madison avenue is right here. This is ridiculous. I don't know who you think you're dealing with."

"You're right,this is ridiculous. I don't have what you want. I'm sorry."

And with that delightful retail exchange,crazy cat lady (as we have dubbed her because she has brought her cat INTO the store with her to shop-hence cat. And because she is known in other stores as crazy cat lady and because she is the most combative, cursing belligerent wonder I have ever laid eyes on,hence- CRAZY), all 4'10" of her, shuffled/stormed out of the store,leaving behind a mist of bitterness and the odor of someone unable to be pleasant under very pleasant circumstances.)

God help me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

sleep shopping

"cannn iiiiii get some help overrrr herrrre?"

I turn around and she is so close that our sleeves are touching,prompting me to wonder where "over here" is? I also notice that she hasn't run a comb through her hair since last week and is carrying a $10,000. Hermes handbag.I'm just sayin'.

She talks in a breathy,slow,druggy voice.

"Do you have any kitchen rugs? My husband and I need a kitchen rug. We need something nice to walk on." (I suppose she means besides the live in help.)

"Well,we have these handknotted wool rugs,which are beautiful in a traditional or eclectic home."

"NNNNNNoooooo,we have modern. Everything is black and silver and gray. It's very colllllld,you know?" (I suppose she means just like her husband is,gray and cold.)

"Okay,well,we have these graphic polypropelene rugs that are modern."

"Whhhhhaaaattt? What is polypropeleeeeeennnnneeee????"

"It's a plastic and they dye it and weave it into rugs. It's great for outdoors or a kitchen because well,it's plastic,you can wipe it off with a damp sponge."(note,you would not believe how many times in my career I have uttered that exact sentence,you can wipe it off with a damp sponge. more on that later.)

"But can you walk on it?"

Yes! They are called rugs! We are selling them as rugs! It is on the floor in front of you right now!!!!! Just like a rug!!! Are you awake? Are you sleep shopping?

"Yes,you can walk on it."

"Is that weird?" (what a bothersome question that is.It's subjective. If you think it's weird then it is.I once had a woman who was handling a fabric with her hands ask me,"Is this soft?")

"No it's not weird."

"But it's plastic."

If it's good enough to name your favorite surgery after,then it's good enough for your precious feet.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Holy Sheet

"this bedding is so great,you guys should really run with it."
"thanks,it IS really nice."
"no,but,I mean,you really should push this,it would do well."
"yeah,we sell over thirty different's on promotion right now."
"well, i want to take it but i can't possibly carry it with me,i have a hair appointment.can i come back later for it? will it be here?"
"i'll put it on hold for you."
"great,i''ll come back later,with great looking hair!!

(the word "great" is overused in retail.)

"you know,i didn't even know this store existed. i mean,i come to this neighborhood all the time. i shop in the shops all the time. but i never knew you were should advertise."
"oh,we do.glad you found us."(not true.)
"i love the look of things,the style of the really should run with this,i think it would be really succesful." (we've been here for years,the brand is 10 years old and this is our 11th store.)
"NO! i mean it." (i did say thanks,right? that is an affirmation.i didn't say,no,that's a ridiculous notion madam!! jesus,take the bedding out of your ears,lady! some people are so completely self absorbed,it's fascinating.on top of frustrating.)
"but anyway,the bedding is gorgeous,you really should run with it."

i just have one is "run with it" different from conceptualizing it,designing it,sourcing it,ordering it,shipping it,merchandising it,advertising it and selling it???????

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

good as gold

"lemme ask ya sumthin',the parisian mirra ya got on the website,is it nice?"

" yes,it's very nice."

"have you seen it?'


"so,it's nice.doesn't look cheap,right?"

"no,not cheap."

"so,you have it in the store there?"

"yes,we do."

"your store?"

"yessir,our store."

"so if i came in there i could see it , right?"

"that's right."

"lemme ask ya this,it says it's antique gold. is it a yellow gold or like a brownish gold? does it look cheap? does it look like real gold? it says antique gold,does it look good/"

'yes,it's a beautiful mirror. it's hard to describe color over the phone,but antiqued generally means,worn or soft."

"oh so it looks dirty or sumthin?"

"mmnnn,no,not dirty,antiqued."

"so it looks good,right?"

"yes,it's very pretty."

"i'm gonna put it in my guest bathroom. i just redid the whole thing. it's totally contemporary,you know? it's got white tile,and like a pumpkin colored wall,but it's a finish you know,like,tuscan. and the faucets are italian. and there's green accents."

(Hold on a minute. That sounds disgusting. Really bad.I hope he finishes up this description soon. I'm starting to feel nauseous.)

"wow,that sounds really pretty,really nice. i'm sure the mirror will be perfect."

'well i'm gonna come see it. i live in jersey but i come to the city like all the time."


'are you there everyday?"

"no,they gove me two days off a week."

'oh,ok,well i'll be in."


Sunday, October 24, 2010


"Do you happen to have any small plastic trays?" the elderly gentleman asked me.

"Why ,yes,we have this 20"x20" black lacquered campaign tray. It is $138.00"

"NO NO NO that won't DO!"

"You might try shopping at Bed ,Bath and Beyond."

"You know what you can do with Bed,Bath and Beyond,don't cha?"

"No sir,I don't."


"Have a nice day,sir,you're welcome."

"I DIDN'T SAY THANK YOU!!!!!!!" He implores as he storms out of the store.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


First she called me over to the bathmat she was holding. It was ivory in color,woven,$48.00. "What will happen to this if I bleach it?" she asked.

"What will happen if you bleach it?",I replied,hoping she would hear,from my parroting back to her,that the question was inane and was making me tired already.She didn't.
"It will get bleach spots and the color will be,um,bleached out of it."
"Then what should I do to clean it?"
"You should wash it. In a washing machine with laundry detergent."
"What about bleach?"
" Um,use color safe bleach."
"Now,tell me,does color safe bleach work?"
Ohhhhhh lady,no,it's the biggest hoax of the century.They really screwed you over this time. This is just the problem she was waiting for! People want cheese knives and bathmats,yes,but people also know that as they shop,they can work out their craziness on you,as long as you are wearing a nametag.
she buys the mat.
Now we move over to the mother of pearl entertaining collection,one of our biggest sellers.
She picks up a little mother of pearl and stainless steel knife from a set of 4 for $38 and says "do these cheese knives work?"
"um,do they WORK?"
"yes,some of them don't."
(how many cheese knives have you owned? how many have disappointed you? how many have been so superior that they have ruined the chances for your other cheese knives to shine?)
"They......were designed for their intended purpose,yes." (patience begins to strain,my nametag begins to sweat a little)
We spend the next 30 minutes unwrapping boxes of these poor little knives so that she can choose the "most perfect" ones. I hate perfectionists,nothing is ever good enough,which just means that they feel they are never good enough,and you can never be good enough,just like the innocent little cheese knife,it's handle lovingly decorated in the Phillipines with a beautiful pearly white shell that came from God or the creative power of the universe,whatever you want to call it,whatever book you read.God made m.o.p. so it's already perfect,lady. Who are you to critique what god and the Phillipines made?
Your total is $94.87.