The drive to and from The Big Fancy was one of the few escapes I had left. It was a beautiful trip. The Bronx River Drive is stunning and scenic, and it helped me relax every single time. I actually looked forward to it. I often left Madeline’s early, looking forward to the drive, and when I arrived at the mall much earlier than then beginning of my shift, I would sit in my car with a cup of coffee and stare out the window.
I’ve always tried to look for the good things in the world. Writing about the bad things is hard, so I procrastinate. But they’re stories that need to be told.
Things were not working out at The Big Fancy. Even though the Lingerie department was a much better fit for me, and I enjoyed working with Gabby, I was too far into the red, too broke, and too homesick to make it work. I was also still dealing with the same entitled customer.
The girl ended up picking the same Calvin Klein bra she was wearing. It was clear that the one she wore was old, but she still liked the same style. The mother wasn’t happy with this, so she kept asking me what I thought. I then turned to the girl and asked her, “How do you feel?” She told me she liked the bra, and I turned to her mother and told her that her daughter liked the bra just fine.
Unfortunately, there was a sale coming up, and one of the sales bra made it into the size run I had grabbed without me noticing. But the mother noticed the sales bra, and all bets were off.
They ended up buying the cheapest, flimsiest bra out of the bunch I had picked out for the girl. Not the one she wanted, but a bra nonetheless. After all her dramatic moaning over her daughter’s breast, the mother came to me and told me that she couldn’t in good conscience buy a full-priced bra when there was a sale coming up.
I rang them up, and then they circled around the department and came back to me. The mother asked me why I hadn’t put her daughter in the Natori bras. This was laughable considering that Natori was twice as expensive as the one solitary Kensie they just bought, but the answer was simple: Natori is marketed for women in their mid 30’s to 40’s. I brought the girl bras in her age bracket, bras that were colorful and fun, and figured that she wouldn’t be interested in Natori.
As I explained myself, the girl was nodding in agreement. She wasn’t interested in Natori, but it was clear that the entire show wasn’t about her.
During the sale, I tried to help customers as much as possible. Still, on the first day I only sold $500. I stood on the sales floor, looking to help customers, but it was also difficult to focus because the sales floor was a mess. I walked in on that first day of the sale and there were bras everywhere, on top of the fixtures, on the floor, and I just had to clean. Gabby had to actively tell me to let it go.
So I tried to focus on selling. Another lady walked up with her daughters, and I smiled big. She may have seen the money signs in my eyes, or maybe she was just tired, either way, she refused to let me help her. It was my job to stay close to customers in case they needed help, but she flat out blocked me. When she needed a room, she went to someone else, and when she said she was ready to ring out, I offered to help, and she told me very clearly that I was bothering her.
I told Gabby. She just told me to go to the next customer.
The same customer who returned the worn Rouland Mouret came into Lingerie. We did a good job of not noticing each other.
There was one coworker who told me about her experience working at The Big Fancy. She was the first one who told me Nicole had her favorites. She told me she had been the manager for one of the departments on the second floor, and when she asked for time off to attend a friend’s funeral, she was told that if there wasn’t a significant sales increase in her department, she would be asked to step down from her position.
She told me this was her first hint that they planned to merge her department with another. The increase they were demanding from her was unheard of, and sure enough, when she came back from paid time off, she was told to step down and the department were merged.
Gabby and I had our final sit down the day after the sale. I had only made $500, and this concerned her. I was burned out, I was tired, and I just couldn’t play along anymore. I asked if I could leave that day. She offered to put in a good word for me with the manager at the Rack store close by. I told her I was so broke I needed to cash in my 401K to pay my bills.
I went home. Madeline was getting ready to go on vacation to the Dominican Republic that same day and asked for a ride to buy a few last minute gifts. I just asked her to buy me Chinese food since I hadn’t eaten that day.
So I drove. I still love to drive.
We went shopping on 3rd Ave in the Bronx, and Madeline milked every minute. She argued with the cashier about price tags and claimed certain things were on sale even though she clearly knew they weren’t. She held up the line. She shopped at three different stores even though we were only supposed to go to one. And she left the kids unattended. She brought the two youngest and barely bothered to keep an eye on them.
At the last store, I yelled at her. I told her she was exactly the customer I hated, playing dumb to try and get a further discount, making the staff run around for imaginary sizes.
When they finally left to catch the plane, I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I had the entire apartment to myself for almost two months, and I wanted to make the best of it. I was going to look for work. I was going to write, and I was going to finally achieve my dreams.
That night however, I barely got any sleep. I was worried about work. There was a car right outside my window with a very sensitive alarm that kept going off every five minutes, and there was a boy. A boy who barely matters now, a boy who I gave so much attention that, had I focused all that attention on my dreams, I’m sure I’d rule the world by now.
But that’s just the way the world works. There are so many distractions, so many things trying to derail you from what really matters, that sometimes it’s nearly impossible to ignore.
You’ll see what I mean.