I had forgotten to refill my prescription in the hustle and bustle of the week. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. My thyroid has had problems for a while now, and though I would be tired from forgetting to take the pill, I could usually push through the week pretty well. So I ordered more pills, picked them up the next day (of course I was exhausted as usual) and began the regiment all over again. No big deal. Read more
“You did the right thing.” I told her as she wiped her tears away. I would have been crying too if a customer had tried pulling that same act on me. Screaming. Pounding the counter. Threats. Typical things that customers usually say when upset, only louder and more physically displayed emotions. Stressing out one of our newer Selling Supervisors to the point of breaking down. She was afraid. Who wouldn’t be? Everyone was uncomfortable. That behavior was unacceptable and violent.
The customer had a discrepancy. Her payment toward her credit card debt had been charged twice. This happens from time to time. Pretty frequently actually. So when we called the credit card company, like any person with a credit card should know, they said she had to file a discrepancy with them and it would be taken care of. She wasn’t satisfied with that. Our store name was on the card so it had to be our fault. She didn’t even pay the bill at our store. She paid it by mail. No error was made in-store. No record of the double charge from us.
Of course, this customer didn’t care. She wanted her money back right away. So while I was shuffling our sobbing selling supervisors away from the monstrosity of a customer, my store manager was risking her job by taking money out of the register drawer and handing it to the childish and sad excuse of a human being. One who used her emotions and fists like a gun to an associates head, or at least, that’s how I imagined it since that’s how we all seemed to be reacting. Customers and associates dead silent. Afraid to speak up. Afraid to even breath lest they become the object of her terror.
Handing the customer money, my store manager tried to calm her and smooth things over. I felt a moment of panic as I unlocked the office and ushered our shaken selling supervisor into its safety. That transaction was risky for both of them, because without information as to where that money was headed in the register, and no record of the double charge to her card on our end, it could be seen as the customer stealing and my manager allowing it.
Basically a whole lot of illegal happening.
Not that the customer cared. She got her way. She just learned that yelling and and pounding her fists would give her money from an institution which owes her nothing. People could get fired for catering to her unacceptable behavior, and she wouldn’t even bat an eye. She could have charges pressed against her if the company wanted. But who would care out of the millions that company made a day? What’s a little over a hundred in comparison to millions? Very small.
I thought of a Needtobreathe lyric as I sat our SS down:
“Beg the book to turn the page/ cuz I get stuck where the villains get away/ Somewhere in this wretched tale/ there must be a time where the victim gets his way/…just…one…time…”
No matter. I tried to comfort my crying comrade. “You tried to do the right thing.”
She sobbed in response “What does it matter,doing the right thing when it’s followed by the wrong thing and recognized as commendable?”
I merely looked at her with pain in my eyes. I knew that question well. It struck my heart and broke it. It’s such a deep part of human nature…at its core the question: Where is justice when corruption seems like justice?
I didn’t have the answers. I’m not God. I don’t know reasons. It felt hopeless and nothing was fair. All I managed to say was “It doesn’t matter what anyone else did. You tried to do the right thing. Don’t ever stop. You did well.”
Let them suffer their own foolishness. I whispered within myself, as the flames of justice smoldered to damp ash in my broken heart.
I’m not a fan of Pumpkin Spice stuff. There. I said it. I am a very typical white girl, and I do not like Pumpkin Spice stuff. Of course I still follow some of the stereotype. I’m a big fan of cats. I wear baggy sweaters and hipster glasses with skinny jeans. I feel qualified enough in my “white girlness” that I will gladly draw the line at pumpkin spice.
I’m just not a fan of Pumpkin. Which is weird because I’m very partial to butternut and acorn squash. Huge fan of both. Of the gourds, pumpkin isn’t my forte, not my first choice and most likely my last…only with the exception of the seeds. I like those toasted. Little salt, pepper, and paprika on those. Yummy.
It’s been a pretty consistent all my life. Every year I try to eat at least one thing pumpkin spice, just to try it. This year it was three baby scones that a dear friend fed me, and they were good. Over the past few years I found a tolerance for it, to the point it wasn’t repulsive any more. Almost a guarded appreciation that said “okay, I can deal with this, I see why others appreciate it, I see why people think it’s good,” but it was never quite the thing that hit the spot for me. Nothing I ever craved, nothing I’d ever choose out of a coffee menu, and certainly not what I’d want my pancakes or sweet bread to taste like.
This fall seemed to explode with mass pumpkin spice hysteria. Candles, scented socks, beverages, aftershaves, even hand sanitizer couldn’t be spared. Nowhere you went could you escape it…until I got to work. I’m not sure why corporate forwent the mass buying of pumpkin spice items. Perhaps because our store is small they just forgot to send us the stuff? Maybe it was an act of God? It didn’t matter though how we got missed, what I knew was I was glad for it. I found comfort in candles that were cider scented, and cinnamon scented, but above all…orange spice scented.
Of all the fall flavored and scented whatever’s you can find, orange spice is my top choice. That warm burst of citrus with the undertones of nutmeg and cinnamon are a delight. My favorite tea is always Stash brand orange spice, but I’ll take anything you can offer. Orange spice scented anything? I have to smell it. Especially if is lotion. Oh, how I had wanted to buy anything I could find orange spice. Still do. Unfortunately, orange spice is not as popular as its gourd cousin, and this it is a very rare occasion when I find such items. Plus I’m pretty poor.
The love for orange spice tea, began when my mother would make us Russian tea as children. A sweet citrus black tea full of such life that it kept my spirits high in those cold winters. My mom would make it for us while we played outside in those bitter cold Midwest winters. Every time I came inside, it was there, the smell in the air and a fire in the fireplace that dad built before falling asleep on the couch for a winter nap. You could smell the tea before you even got to the door. That’s how powerful it was, and when you drank it, every ounce of cold your body held onto melted away. It was like magic.
Of course, I was diagnosed with diabetes at a young age as well, so naturally, I drifted from drinking such sweet beverages. I was already a fan of unsweetened tea at a young age as well. An aunt of mine had spent quite a few years of her life in England, and had made me very fond of tea sets. I began to have a taste for un-doctored teas. Letting their flavor a speak for themselves. I found a great deal of solace in the milder and unsweetened version of Russian Tea: orange spice. Which was practically every ingredient of Russian tea, but without the sugar.
A couple days ago I had finally been able to grocery shop. It had been about five weeks since the last one, and I was down to meals of oatmeal, butter, brown sugar, and a cup of water. When payday came I was thrilled, and after realizing that I had money left over in my budget after buying my list, I decided it was time to buy more tea, and of course, I bought orange spice. It had been years since I had actually had a good cup of Stash brand orange spice.
Pricy as it was, it was worth the splurge, and as I sat down at my table wrapping my sleeve covered hands around that warm mug, the scent alone took me out of my tiny apartment on the outskirts of that washed up town, and brought me back to much better memories of home. The chill in my body and my heart began to fade as I took my first sip. As the night drew darker, I could only think of those long cold winters, and how much good they had done for my body and soul.
We spent almost 45 minutes of our lives trying to find a product she liked that was EXACTLY the $35 minimum qualifyer for the Estée Lauder gift with purchase. Lipstick is $30, and she could easily get up to the $70 qualifyer for the step up gift. A total of $260 value in free product. But of course, she will only make the exception for lipstick. Any other cosmetic product she will buy, but just not lipstick. So onward our search resumed as I prayed for my manager to return from her lunch quickly so I no longer had to cover the cosmetics department and deal with more morons.
I had to keep myself from laughing after she finished telling me the tale of why she no longer buys lipstick from our store. It was the most lousy excuse for having a chip-on-your-shoulder I had ever heard. Apparently one day she came in and bought her favorite lipstick. She then proceeded to go about her way and shop more. While she was looking for a different size shirt she left her purse and already purchased lipstick unattended, and when she returned her bag of lipstick was missing. Immediately she returned to the cosmetics counter and asked for a replacement…but wanted it for free.
Never had I heard a more illogical story told to me by a customer. Even before I worked retail, the thought would never occur to me to demand a lost or stolen item replacement for free. I understand the little concept known as consequences. You know, where if you are irresponsible or risky with your personal items, you pay for it one way or another? It would be one thing if her lipstick went missing in a pre-sale, we’d replace it at no extra charge to her. Or if she got handed the wrong color. Or if it was defective. Something that was ACTUALLY our fault. No, it was stolen from her, and apparently because it was in-store that it was stolen…it was our responsibility to make up for her irresponsibility.
Of course, we didn’t replace it, so she was a very upset middle aged woman. Now here she was, probably in her 60s, and would buy anything but lipstick from our store.
Maybe I’m a little behind the times on customer etiquette. Or even common sense (which is more uncommon than I thought)? You don’t sue a company for getting your car hit in a parking lot right? Or am I out of the loop on modern conduct? Because I thought you go after the person who is the cause of the issue. It’s not the company’s responsibility to reimburse you for the damage of your car. If the lipstick you bought was lost in your home, you’d probably go back to the store and buy another one for losing it. Or would you? I assumed you wouldn’t return to the store asking for another one for free! The associates at the store don’t know if you’re lying or not right? How can they trust you?
The most common excuse for stories like this are “but I had proof I paid for it.” It doesn’t matter if you have your proof of payment. Receipts are not little pieces of magic paper that vouch for your character. They aren’t a list of all the good deeds you’ve done in your life. It’s not a background check, or police record proving you’ve never done anything wrong (that you were caught for anyway). What do you want from me? A cookie for hanging on to a piece of paper? Just because you paid for it, doesn’t mean you’re a good person. Doesn’t mean anything. Just means you bought some stuff. Probably stuff you didn’t even need.
Sorry. It just doesn’t work like that.
We stood next to each other. The water poured into the tarp with a soft rainfall patter that could lull a tired mind into a sound sleep. I looked at the remnants of the snow trickling out of the ceiling. It would have been beautiful, if it weren’t such a stressful situation.
I spoke quietly concerned about how long he had been there.
“How you holding up?” I asked.
“It was rough. I don’t want to be here now.”
“How many hours you going on?”
“I’ve been clocked in for fourteen.”
I sighed sympathetically and nodded. I hadn’t been in the store when the water first came through. “Like a waterfall,” some of the associates told me. Then again, anything even slightly interesting in the store became a fish tale meant only to become larger and larger as the days went by.
“Did it get upstairs too?” I asked anxiously.
“Yes, but not by the posters. All your posters are fine.”
“Oh good. Thank you.”
I turned and made a B line for the stairs anyway. Pushing through the swing doors to the back stock room where the “magic” happened. I practically was sprinting up the steps to make sure more leaks weren’t up there by our paper collateral. I could hardly get a missing item sent to me as it was through our system. If I had to get EVERYTHING replaced I had no idea what I was going to do. I held my breath, and tried not to let any tears of disappointment come before I knew what the situation was.
I saw no other leaks. I looked for about an hour so I was pretty sure. I went down stairs, becoming ever more aware of the scent of mold in the air. “Mildew.” I said aloud as I entered the office. I could feel it in my breathing and considered carrying my inhaler around for the day, just in case. My manager nodded absentmindedly at my word, but I’m not sure she recognized what I had even said. She was exhausted. In all night trying to make sure the buckets didn’t overflow with our maintenance guy and my other manager.
It wasn’t until about 10am that I heard the roofers on the roof. Banging and sealing. Sawing and stomping around. Customers looked up every moment the patter of pounding would stop. Then they would make their way to the back of the Men’s department to take a look at the damage. We kept the lights out over the men’s dress-wear. The last thing we needed was a fire as well as a leak. So there was very little the customers could see. Not that there were many customers to begin with.
When the roofers were finished inspecting the management was made aware of the situation. Apparently there was a seam in the roof that had so much snow melt that it no longer held the weight of what was draining into the storm drain from above. So the incline seam ripped open, and poured all over our floor. None of the merchandise was damaged. Things were fine other than a few ceiling tiles would need replacing and we needed to keep an eye on things while the roofers finished up.
Things were pretty much back to normal by the time I left at 3pm. I was just glad everything was over. I was glad that nothing was damaged. I began to wonder how much longer we were going to stick around in that failing mall. The place was a mess. People hadn’t paid rent for their stores in ages. It was outdated. Poorly managed. The only two stores in the mall that were sticking around and paying were us and an appliance store that had been going strong for a little while, but was suddenly going bankrupt because of how little traffic that side of town was getting. The place was ghostly. It wasn’t going to stick around for much longer. I couldn’t imagine it would.
On the drive home I noticed my check engine light was on. I sighed. It was going to be one of those weeks. At least I had friends coming on the weekend. For that I was thankful. I had something to look forward to.
We chattered as we drove, talking about life, love and wedding details. She was glowing. Happy for everything. Happy that we were able to be together for this wonderful moment. Happy that we all could get away from work and have some fun. Happy that we didn’t have to stay in the area and could go on an adventure.
Happy we could get a wedding dress…for free.
The home it’s self was 3 floors high, with a plantation style wrap around porch. Mint green siding and dark shutters with glowing lights from inside welcomed you into a relaxed living space with quaint country decorating. The driveway was practically a mile long. The estate, where both her husbands jewelry store and her mansion sit, along with several barns. Sat on a hillside surrounded by fields. It seemed out of place in the middle of nowhere. The kind of home one would see in the south. Large and lovely.
When I heard about her ministry, I was expecting someone to come to you with outdated or vintage wedding dresses that she would help you make into a dress that worked. Who gives away wedding dresses if they’re actually stylish? I mean REALLY just GIVES THEM AWAY.? I suppose the divorced would. But that was beside the point. I assumed that she would probably just pass off something a few seasons old…or decades, and kind of hope you and a seamstress could make it work.
I was mistaken.
Her basement is a bridal showroom, full of contemporary dresses, all donated from bridal shops all over the nation and individuals who just happen to find them at places like Goodwill each season. After you choose a gown, she sends you off with it, to alter it as needed. The only money you spend is on alterations, if the dress even needs it at all. She specializes in dresses with sleeves and high necklines, but also has a large selection of strapless dresses she insists on showing you how to alter with straps, all the while lovingly telling you how sleeveless dresses are “ungodly” dresses. She refuses gowns donated by divorcees, believing them to be “ungodly” dresses as well, and therefore bad luck.
Despite how some of our theology differs, I enjoyed her. She was lovely, jovial, and extremely helpful. Not to mention a blessing to offer the kind of ministry she does for so little, and out of her own home. She made the experience of bridal gown shopping stress free for my dearest friend, who looked absolutely stunning in the dress she picked.
I even teared up a little. Not gunna lie.
As we were walking out, thanking her again and again for a lovely experience, she asked me when I would be coming to see her. I wasn’t sure how to respond at first. So I simply replied “When he pops the question.” She smiled, and assured me “He’d be a fool not to do it soon.” I laughed.
We all took a picture together with our stylist before we piled back in the car for a two hour ride home.