Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What makes the world go 'round.

The day ended in one of the strangest ways I've ever experienced since I have worked in retail. It was a quiet Tuesday, like most Tuesdays in our store since my arrival to New York. I spent the early afternoon praying for a burst of people to storm into the boutique and buy whatever their hearts desired to help us make our goal for the day. Well, God definitely sent me a burst of something...and it came in the form of a 60-something-year-old woman named Charlotte. At about 6:52 (we close at 7), a petite well-dressed woman with a blond bob and bright red lipstick walked into the store hauling a giant rolled up pink rug over her shoulder (a modern day sex in the city inspired Jesus, maybe?) She dropped the heavy load off near the counter and started to browse through the racks of colorful clothing. I approached her and commented on how gorgeous her Yves Saint Laurent handbag was. From there, I had made a new best friend! She grabbed me by the arm tenderly and led me around the store while telling me about her early days as a NYC fashionista. She started collecting BJ clothing in the early 70's, many of which she still has to to this day. We have many customers who come in to the boutique because the funky clothing helps them reminisce about their early years and past love for fashion. However, I quickly realized that we could have been a store selling Polish Bratwurst, live poultry or Barry Manilow CDs and Charlotte could have found interesting stories to share about those things, too. She started to pick up speed at this point as she stumbled around the store. While she spoke to me, her hands flew wildly through the air like an orchestra conductor as she switched from subject to subject, often interjecting enthusiastically when she would see a piece of clothing that stood out to her. I began to collect a pile of dresses in my hands and started running them back and forth to the dressing room like it was some kind of baton relay race. It was about 7:09 at this point and I looked over to MG who was patiently standing behind the counter, staring at me with confusion. We both knew that there was no way we were getting out of the store by 7:15 and especially no way that I was going to make my Pilates class at 7:30. Goodbye, vision of perfect abs! Eventually, the woman made her way into the room after asking me to pick out a pair of shoes for her to try on with the dresses. She wanted pumps, so I brought her pumps in a size 9. However, she decided on a pair of rainbow-colored beaded suede moccasins to balance out the simplicity of the silk charmeusse dresses she had chosen. At this point, I decided that there was something very peculiar about this woman. I asked her name, she replied with Charlotte. After I told her my name, I could hear her gushing about Gone with the Wind and how it was her favorite movie. I crept around the other side of the mirror and stared at the floor until she came out of the room. All of a sudden....WOOSH! The dressing room curtain flew open and there stood a very pale-skinned weathered Charlotte, with one breast hanging completely out of the dress that she had managed to put on backwards. I immediately turned to MG who stood behind the counter with her mouth dropped completely open. With the speed of a gazelle, I rushed over to Charlotte and struggled to get her dress put on properly so that she wasn't flashing all of the upper east side homeless people who stare into our windows late at night. The current situation had no visable effect on her. I had a feeling that this wasn't the first time she had been topless at a public establishment. Three or four ensembles later, we embarked on a conversation about how I had just moved to the city and that I need to join "groups" in order to make friends. "I joined groups, Tara. One of them was an AA group, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that not all drunks are BUMS!" she shouted in a muffled tone through the dressing room curtains. I just stood there with my hands on my head...staring into pink oblivion. It was 7:56 by this point and we just wanted to get out of there! Charlotte came out of the room with one of our own blouses on, jeans, moccasins, lipstick smeared on her front tooth and her blond bob, slightly off center from the position it was in upon her arrival. While trying not to stare too intently on her ever-shifting wig, Charlotte sat down indian style, possibly embracing her new choice of footwear, on the black and white checkered floor and told us to pick out pajamas for her. I suggested that I ring up her current items to give her the total before we picked out any more pieces. It came to $1800. I truly did not believe that she'd be able to pay for this and I especially was nervous about the fact that she could potentially be under the influence of something. I've had similar situations where I have received angry phone calls the following morning by husbands who had not given consent to any frivolous spending sprees at stores with a "no returns" return policy. I repeatedly asked Charlotte if the amount was okay with her and she seemed more than excited about her new items. I explained our return policy prior to swiping her card. I had her sign all receipts and I took her contact information down just in case I get a call from an angry spouse tomorrow morning. It took about fifteen minutes to get her all wrapped up, calmed down and on her way out of the boutique. I was worried about her walking home with her newly acquired pink shopping bags, expensive designer purse and large area rug (although I don't think anyone would mess with a woman wearing moccasins) so I ran outside to hail her a cab. A taxi showed up within 45 seconds. I was pretty impressed with myself, as this was my first time hailing a cab! I loaded all of her belongings into the taxi. When I turned around, she gave me a big lipsticky kiss on my cheek and said, "thank you tara, you both have sweet faces. goodluck in new york." I gave her a hug, pushed her pink bags into the car, closed the door and ended the Charlotte chapter in my big story book of crazy retail customer experiences.

1 comment:

MrsKatherineA said...

what a fantastic story! only in ny xoxo

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