The Gap.. in more ways than expected
Everything about the buying process is cool; the choosing between items, the sliding of the credit card through that cool little machine, the mileage that accrues on each sale. It’s all just intrinsically rewarding.
My friend Kim is a full-time buyer. I think that sounds like the best job ever. Then again, everyone though it was treat for me when I worked at the Olive Garden and could eat as many bread sticks as I wanted.
Now that my company is in Tyson Corner, 2nd shopping Mecca in the DC area next to Potomac Mills (which we don’t go to anymore because it’s become too Mennonite for our tastes), I wonder through stores each week looking for those bargains or outfits that make me look 5 pounds bulkier in the chest. (Little luck there as you’ve seen.)
However, not all of it is enjoyable. You know me well enough that I will always find something to complain about. There is one part of this entire experience that just fumes me; the greeting.
When I go into a store, I like to do so unobtrusively. I’m just browsing for God’s sake; there is no need to announce my arrival.
But not for these career retail workers. Some upper management individual has decided that it’s important for the employee to interrupt my browsing to let me know that they can assist me in any way possible. As if I couldn’t pick them out with their wardrobes directly matching all the clothing on hangers in front me.
When I worked at Williams-Sonoma (my resume has many chain vendor careers, doesn’t it?), we were under strict orders to greet a customer within 30 seconds. There is actually someone assigned as a greeter. I wasn’t selected for this role very often since I didn’t much care about the features of a Cuisinart, but rather enjoyed the 40% discount on all items but electrics.
As I enter the stores of Tysons Corner, I long for the gentle “hello” that so rarely comes with my arrival. Instead, it’s something along the lines of a Shakespearean monologue. “Hi, my name is Peyton and I’m part of the purple team here at ___. If there is anything I can do to make your time here more comfortable, please don’t hesitate to ask. Have you had the opportunity to shop here before? Let me point out the sales promotions we are having right now. So just let me know what I can do? ‘kay?”
My worst experience ever was in the Gap. Our Tree House Club (that’s what my department used to call it when Russ & I would go on outings), decided to check out the wears in the mall. We ventured into LL Bean and Eddie Bauer, walked right past American Eagle Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch and stopped at The Gap. Contemplating whether they had anything for 38 going on 32 year olds, we took the chance and headed in.
The moment we crossed the threshold, our ears were deafened by the sounds of Hoobatank, 12 Stones or some other really loud music. We laughed nervously, realizing that we had a better chance of being mistaken as waiting for our kids, than actually attempting to find clothing for ourselves.
Then came the voice from above intersperesed among the heavy rock beats… “Hi, can ….”
“What did you say?" I asked.
“Nothing dude.” (We call each other dude.)
The voice came again.
Russ looks over. “It’s like God’s talking to us or something, but I can’t understand the words.” We both kept looking up and all around.
With that, some little Lindsay Lohan wannabe with a tongue ring, walks over and says, “Hi, I’m Angel. I asked you twice if you needed any help, but you kept looking at the lights. Are you okay? Is there anything you need here?”
Middle age hits you in the most ironic of situations.
“No, we’re just looking for our sons. Sorry.”