What was THAT?!?
Every now and then I have an experience that leaves me standing there with my mouth gaping, thinking “did that seriously just happen? That couldn’t have just happened!” I had one of those yesterday at work. Working in an intimate wear store lends itself to such experiences, but yesterday? It took the cake. And the plate the cake was sitting on. And the knife that was about to cut it.
So here’s how it went down…
The door opened and in wandered a middle-aged woman and her…husband?…boyfriend?…cousin?…well, anyway, she had some man with her. They looked a little rough, and I would later find out they were from Louisiana. I approached them and greeted them, welcoming them to the store and asking them if there was anything special I could help them with. About six feet away I was accosted by the overwhelming smell of cigarettes. Not the sort of smell that says “I just had myself a smoke”, but the sort that says “everything I wear/sleep on/ride in/live in is permanently saturated with the smell of old, stale, cigarettes”. Now this is nothing all that unusual, and I normally don’t give it a second thought. But as the woman opened her mouth to tell me why she was there, a secondary smell hit me– though I wouldn’t have had to smell it to quickly discern that these two had recently had a liquid lunch. Or snack. Make that a heavy snack. Shoot, let’s just call it a feast.
“I need to be fitted for a bra” she slurred. “My bra doesn’t fit right. It’s awful. I’ve never been fitted and I don’t know what size I wear and I’ve been guessing at it my whole life and it’s just awful and I hate it and I need a bra that fits.” She seemed to be getting more and more worked up with each word she spoke. As she teetered in front of me I could clearly see that what she was saying was true. The poor woman was wearing a bra that gave her the appearance of having a couple grapefruits stuffed into socks dangling from her chest. I assured her that we could fit her, and as I pulled my tape measure from around my neck, the husband/boyfriend/cousin excused himself to stagger outside the store since this was going to take a little while.
I measured her, grabbed a bra I thought would suit her well and took her to the fitting room. I told her that if she’d let me see it once she had it on, I would be able to adjust the straps and tell her whether or not this size and style were good for her, and if they weren’t, I would go get something better. She began stripping and told me I didn’t have to leave, but I beat a hasty retreat, assuring her that I’d give her privacy to get changed. I could tell the moment she had it on because she began gushing about how wonderful it fit and how comfortable it was. I knocked and went into the fitting room with her, and indeed, the bra was a really great size and style for her. But the instant I got in there, her tone changed as she got distracted.
“I’m so sorry I look awful. I look so terrible. I’ve been crying for three weeks.” She began clawing at her face, rubbing at her eyes. “I lost my baby three weeks ago”
I knew from her age that it wasn’t likely she’d lost a baby three weeks ago, but I gave her concerned look and made some sympathetic sounds.
“Oh, it’s not what you think. My baby was my little Maltese. I saw her get hit on the road and then rolled over. It was so awful and I can’t stop crying.”
Tears began to threaten. Seeing your dog get hit is indeed very traumatic, but the last thing I needed was a woman in a slobbering drunk meltdown in the fitting room. I was inwardly squealing “rainbows! unicorns! daisies! baby ducks! glitter lip gloss!” in hope that I could telepathically send some sort of happy vibes her way and stop this train before it was totally derailed. But I needn’t have worried. Her attention span was about the size of a gnat, and she distracted herself by looking in the mirror again and seeing herself with a nice bra in pretty color.
“I LOVE this! Look how good they look!” She rubbed her hands all over her breasts. “Oh my gosh! This is the best bra I’ve ever put on! Will you go call him in from outside? I want him to buy this one for me. Well, I might want a different color. Will you go ask him to come in?”
I told her I’d go see if he was within easy distance of the store. Fortunately, as I walked to the front of the store he was approaching it. I swung open the door and told him she was just asking for him. He came in as she came out of the fitting room wearing her shirt over the bra she’d just tried on. He was barely in the store when she began beerfully waxing poetic to him about how wonderful her bra was and how grateful she was to me for fitting her.
“Look!” she hollered, rubbing her hands all over herself. “Look how good this fits! I love it…it feels so good! Can you believe it?”
He nodded and grunted that it was nice, but this wasn’t enough for her. There in the middle of the store she lifted her shirt up– all the way up– and bellowed “LOOK! ISN’T IT PRETTY?”
I quickly turned around and busied myself rooting through the drawer to see what colors were available in her size. Mostly, I was pretty sure that whatever look was on my face wasn’t something the rest of the world need to see, plus there was the distinct possibility I was about to snort or choke on my own spit in an effort to remain composed and not collapse in a fit of hysterical laughter.
I distracted the woman by showing her the selection in the drawer, and she chose one and wanted to go put it on. She asked if she could just wear it out of the store. I said of course…I would go get the scissors so I could remove the tag for her. I trotted off to get the scissors while she lurched back towards her fitting room, chosen bra in hand.
Now, I swear to you, I am not making this next part up.
I arrive at the fitting room and knock and ask her how she’s doing. She tells me to come on in. I open the door to find her shirtless and bra-less, desperately fumbling with the bra in an attempt to hook it. It was obvious her eyes weren’t focusing very well. “I can’t…this thing won’t…I can’t see over these f$@*&rs” she mumbled as she made several uncoordinated swiping attempts to fasten the hooks in front of her. I was rooting for her to accomplish it, because I sure didn’t want to have to do it for her. She eventually did. I cut off the tag and before I could turn to go, the entire encounter became even more bizarre.
“Oh, hey! I want to show you something!” she said, suddenly very animated. Before I realized what she was doing, she unbuttoned her pants and dropped trou. There she stood, grinning ear to ear, wearing a pair of men’s whitey-tighty underwear. Hane’s briefs, I believe. She then began to gush about how wonderful they were because they didn’t show panty lines. They were SO comfortable, too. And the nice part is that they can be adjusted for whatever pants a person is wearing. She demonstrated by rolling the waist band down and then back up.
Now what am I supposed to say to THAT?!? It was at this juncture that I realized that it would be pointless to ask her if she needed new panties to go with her bra. I’m pretty sure she was sharing a drawer of underwear with her husband/boyfriend/cousin. Or maybe just one pair, who knows. I wasn’t about to ask for details.
I smiled politely and lit out of the fitting room and took the tag to the register so I wouldn’t lose it. The husband/boyfriend/cousin was waiting there to pay for the chosen item. From the fitting room I could still hear her gushing on and on about how great the bra was and how good it looked and how thankful she was to me for helping her. I began to ring up her purchase. The husband/boyfriend/cousin gave me the info I needed to sign her up for catalogs, and as I entered it into the computer I could hear the woman emerging from the fitting room, announcing to the world how good she felt and how grateful she was to me. By the time she made it to the register she had pretty much informed the entire store of her situation. I realized that if she was wearing the new bra, the old one must be around somewhere. I asked her about it. She pulled it out from where she’d tucked it behind the bib of her bibbed overall shorts. I offered to wrap it for her so she wouldn’t have to carry it around like that. Not that anybody would think she’d shoplifted it once they actually got a look at it, but in her state it was a given that at any point the thing was going to be hanging halfway out as she stumbled around the shopping center. She handed it to me and as I turned and wrapped it, I heard the husband/boyfriend/cousin say “hey…am I bleeding? Is that me?”
I turned in time to see blood smeared all over the counter. He lifted up his arm and on the underside of his forearm was some small cut or abrasion that seemed to be displaying the blood-thinning effects of alcohol. He swiped at it with his free hand, which of course he then put back on the counter. I grabbed some paper towels and a bottle of cleaner to clean up and sent him back to the restroom to take care of his wound. He disappeared and came back. The blood seemed to have stopped flowing as fast as it started.
The woman once again began to proclaim her happiness as she groped herself publicly. She thanked me over and over, and I was a bit concerned she was going to burst into tears, but the husband/boyfriend/cousin hauled her out of the store, where I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she stopped strangers on the street to show them her new bra and tell them where she got it and who fitted her.
I appreciate the praise and word-of-mouth referrals, but I’m not certain this is the sort of testimonial I want floating around about my skilz, you know?