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    Returnees, Bargain Shoppers, and Me

    Laura Bradford Icon

    If you’ve ever worked retail you know what swoops through the doors at the start of business on December 26th…and you know it’s not pretty.

    First, you have your “returnees.” These are the folks who can’t wait to unload the boxes of stuff they’d never have bought for themselves (picture Ralphie, of A CHRISTMAS STORY fame, in that pink bunny suit from his aunt—’nuf said).

    Next, you have your “bargain nuts.” These are the folks who think ahead. They manage to knock out next year’s gift buying in the span of about three days, enabling them to sit back and laugh at the rest of us pay-full-price-the-week-before-Christmas suckers.

    Lastly, you have your “my kid’s birthday falls three days after Christmas” shoppers.

    Yup, I fall into the last category. Which means I’ll be braving fast-moving elbows and inept parking lot drivers on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.


    So, I turn to my fellow Good Girl Blog readers (c’mon lurkers, this is your personal invite to de-lurk and leave a comment) to stick an elbow-proof smile on my face for the remainder of the day. Take a stab at the following two questions:

    #1. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why?

    I’ve actually liked all of my jobs for one reason or the other, but I will say that retail is one tough gig and here’s why…

    When I was in high school I worked for the now-defunct Caldor department store chain in Connecticut. My position was in the Domestics department (quit laughing, Good Girls) which meant I cut fabric and worked with sheets, comforters, and curtains. I stocked shelves, smiled at the customers, and generally pretended as if I knew what I was talking about.

    Anyway, the curtain aisles of our particular department caused the most headaches by far. First, they were located in a back corner of the store that was not visible to the various security booths. I knew this, firsthand, because I spent a few of my breaks in our department’s security booth with a really cute guard named Tony (nothing happened, I swear). But, somehow, all the Klepto’s knew this particular corner of the store was out of sight too, which meant that’s where they went to pocket their lip gloss and cassette tapes (I know, I’m dating myself with that one). The proof of their deviant behavior was in the empty cartons and ripped off sku numbers routinely found among the merchandise in that area. Empty packaging that we had to account for in written reports.

    Second, this was also the section where the clueless liked to shop. You see, we had rod-hanging displays of each and every style curtain we sold—displays that people could see and touch. Yet, for some unknown reason, people still ripped those damn bags open ever single day to—I don’t know—see if the one in the package looked the same as the one hanging in front of their face. By the end of the night, virtually every single bag of every single style had been ripped open, rummaged through, and hurled around the display bins. Countless bags that we, in turn, had to restuff and reclose every night before we could leave. This is, perhaps, where my first few murder plots were formed…

    #2. What’s the worst present you’ve ever gotten?

    The only present I can remember despising was a babydoll I got when I was just shy of three. I don’t remember much about this particular doll except that she made a noise of some kind. That noise scared the living begeebers out of me the first time I touched her. And, like all two-year-old girls who have been appropriately freaked, I screamed…and cried…and hid behind whatever I could find that would shield me from such evil. As a result, I got a brand new white slip instead. I think that was my first lesson in keeping my mouth shut… Even creepy is better than practical when you’re two.

    Okay, your turn.


    13 Responses to “Returnees, Bargain Shoppers, and Me”

    1. Can’t say I’ve had a bad job. I’ve been a bad worker, but that’s a different story!

      Let’s see, worst present… I have no traumatic memories of bad presents. Well, okay, maybe the car mats I got for my birthday one year.

      Good luck braving the after Christmas shoppers!

      by heather webber on December 26th, 2006 at 12:29 pm

    2. Was that doll by any chance “Baby Go Bye-Bye and her Bumpity Buggy”? She was so cute in the commercial that I apparently begged my mom to get her for me for Christmas (just weeks after turning 3). Driving around in my family room without any control from me totally freaked me out. I didn’t get a replacement slip though.

      My worst job had to be working at K-mart during my senior year of high school. I think that pretty much says it all.

      by Beth on December 26th, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    3. Did these car mats have a design, heather?

      Beth, I don’t know what its name was. But it was a freaky, freaky doll. I did have a Baby Thataway once. She crawled. My brother said she sounded like a coffee grinder…but I liked her anyway. I just didn’t like them to talk to me, I guess.

      by Laura on December 26th, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    4. Hi! I just discovered your site. My worst job was great in one way–I was a manager at Barnes and Noble and had a 20 percent discount on books. But I hated working until 11 at night (closing sometimes took until midnight) and I really wasn’t thrilled about the people who came out of the woodwork that late at night. Creepy, sometimes.

      Can’t remember my unfavorite present, but I know that it was TOO SMALL. My husband is guilty of this most of all. What woman likes to receive what looks like the perfect outfit–if only she weren’t too fat for it?

      :) Julia

      by Julia Buckley on December 26th, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    5. Julia, so glad you found us. Stop back again!

      I think I would enjoy working in a bookstore but would spend way too much money on books.

      I had to laugh on your perfect outfit comment. Is their vision really THAT off?

      by Laura on December 26th, 2006 at 8:52 pm

    6. 1 - Tie between being a pimp and selling shoes in a mall.

      2 - Shouldn’t we be talking about giving?

      by Guyot on December 27th, 2006 at 1:23 am

    7. Interesting range of job talents, Paul.

      As for talking about giving…doesn’t go with the whole “return” part of being back in the stores.

      by Laura on December 27th, 2006 at 8:54 am

    8. Worst job: Emperor of a small nation off the Seychelles.

      Worst present: Pit-fermented head of pig.

      by Keith on December 27th, 2006 at 11:35 am

    9. Last time I give Keith any swine….

      by Guyot on December 27th, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    10. 1. Worst job? Infantry, hands down.

      2. Worst present? I got out of the service just before Christmas ‘71 and didn’t want to shave or get a haircut for at least three years.

      That Christmas my mother gave me a styling set with hair spray, after-shave and fake tanning lotion (this was after spending two years in the jungle). Gee, thanks Mom. Can I drink this stuff?

      by David Terrenoire on December 27th, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    11. David, a job like infantry makes retail and shoe sales and bookstores seem like a walk in the park.

      Curious, though. Did you ever use the styling set?

      by Laura on December 27th, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    12. Laura,

      I did use the styling set.

      On our dog.

      I’d like to say it improved his chances with the lithe golden down the street, but it was a romance not to be.

      by David Terrenoire on December 27th, 2006 at 9:00 pm

    13. There’s a story in there…

      by Laura on December 27th, 2006 at 10:25 pm

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