Hi there. Remember me? I used to blog here? The thing about blogs is that they’re easy start. They’re less easy to maintain (especially when you can no longer blog about what you used to blog about) and by the time you find yourself running a professional dance company, teaching anthropology and—oh yeah—trying to publish a book, they’re just plain annoying.
In fact, every time I sit down to write something, I find myself annoying.
And that’s where the real trouble starts. Every blog-worthy idea seems stupid. And once those stupid ideas start to pile up, it’s like what’s the point?
Fortunately, bitchiness makes for good blogging. And Burlington Coat Factory has just given me a very good reason to be bitchy.
I’m due for a SUMMA evaluation later this month, which means a bunch of external auditor folks will be coming to my class with clipboards and checklists. It’s the not the first time I’ve been through this sort of thing—we got evaluated all the time at The School—but it will be the first time I’m being evaluated in a non-studio situation. As in I can’t very well go in wearing yoga pants and a leotard.
I used to have a pretty decent “professional wardrobe” thanks to my first job out of college but then I got a little… well, artsy. My mom has been after me to get a new suit for years but I’ve never seen the point. I don’t work in an office; I don’t need a suit. And even when I do occasionally need a suit (job interviews, conference presentations, etc.) I just throw something together and finish it off with a scarf, a pair of heels and two chopsticks wedged into my hair.
I like to think of it as the shock-and-awe approach to dressing professionally. Most people are so focused on my accessories that they don’t notice I’m wearing a bargain basement dress and not a proper powersuit.
But the SUMMA evaluators aren’t most people. And a lot hinges on this evaluation. So I decided to finally break down and buy a proper suit.
And by proper, I mean Burlington Coat Factory (because let’s face it: the $25 gift card I got for Christmas won’t buy even half of a suit at Macy’s.)
I headed down to the Oregon Ave. store, which was perhaps my first mistake. (There’s a reason why most people in my neighborhood claim to live in “Queen Village” and not “Sou’ Philly.”) I selected eight or nine suits to try on only to find that the woman’s fitting room was “closed.”
Having worked as a sales associate back in the day, I know what “closed” means in retail parlance. It means “We’re closing in an hour and we don’t want to get stuck working late because of some idiot in the dressing room.” Not wanting to cause a scene or cost some poor underpaid associate her night out, I politely followed her instructions to try the men’s dressing room on the other side of the store.
Well, wouldn’t you know, the men’s dressing room was “closed” too. The entrance was blocked by a clothing rack and when I managed to locate another sales associate, I was told to go back to the woman’s department.
By now, I wasn’t feeling quite as compassionate. Suits are heavy. Eight suits are really heavy. Especially when you have to carry them across the entire store.
“So what you’re telling me,” I surmised, “is that I can’t try these on? Anywhere?”
“But this is a clothing store. People come here to buy clothes.”
The sales associate just shrugged.
I was tempted to drop the suits on the floor and storm off but I didn’t want to be rude so I defiantly hung the suits on the wrong rack (take that Burlington Coat Factory!) and headed towards the exit.
But then I thought of my brother. My brother wouldn’t take that kind of bullsh*t. My brother would ask to speak to a manager.
So I went back and uttered those seven magical words: I need to speak to a manager.
Except I added an eighth word: please.
And that was probably my second mistake. Disgruntled customers don’t say “please” if they want results. But I did.
The “manager” was sitting on the ground looking about as authoritative as a kid in sandbox (I’m still not convinced that he actually was the manager) and when I explained my plight, he replied that the dressing rooms were closed. That was it, end of story.
“But why? It’s still over an hour until the store closes. I could understand if it was already 9:00pm but this is… this is unacceptable. I mean, this is a clothing store!”
He rattled off some sort of lame excuse about “spills” and “maintenance” which I immediately recognized as “We close the fitting rooms early so we can get out of here early but I can’t tell you that because it’s against the rules.”
I was ready to spit nails at this point—I don’t have much free time for shopping these days!—but I resisted the urge to raise my voice in the hopes that he might offer up one of many obvious solutions that presented themselves.
Like open one of the dressing rooms?
Or point me in the direction or the restroom?
Or offer to hold the suits until the following morning when the dressing room “construction work” would be done?
But no. Let’s just say Mr. Manager won’t be winning Employee of the Year any time soon.
I wished a good evening before I could stop myself (sometimes I wish I could have my brother on headset during times like these. He’s much better at being a bad ass than I am) and stormed off.
Evidently it’s okay to browse at Burlington Coat Factory after 8:00pm but God help you if you need to, you know, actually try something on. I mean, seriously, did you think you were shopping at a store that sells clothing?