Saturday, July 5, 2014

Stuck in a Fox Hole

Nude, dismembered mannequin
Stuck in a fox hole with no way out. That's how I felt in Nordstrom the other day. The most frustrating part was that *I* knew I could get myself out, yet everyone I was stuck with couldn't think outside the box for two seconds and problem solve. This is so disturbing to me as a functioning member of society. I am afraid of adults who have no idea how to improvise.

I was planning to leave work around two o'clock because it was right before the holiday weekend and I needed to get a dress for something. I knew had to be home to meet E's bus at around four-fifteen-ish. But a customer called who was planning to buy a chandelier and asked for me, specifically, to stay until she got to my store. I would never say no if someone asks for me personally so I stayed. And she was quick. But then I didn't leave work until almost three o'clock. That meant I was in a super hurry.

I'm an awesome shopper though. I know what I like, I can look around quickly, I know what looks good on me and I know the brands that work with my body type. I also really just happened to have seen a dress online and wanted to see it and try it on in person before buying.

I went up to the dress section and started looking around. There isn't a good flow up there and it's sort of confusing where to find certain brands. I was looking for Laundry by Shelli Segal. There were Laundry dresses there but only short ones. I was looking for a Maxi (dress, not pad). They had Maxi dresses but not Laundry. I asked the girl working in that department where I could find it. She looked at me, wide eyed, and said that she wasn't sure. And that was it. That was her answer. No, "What brand? What does it look like? Let me see if I can look it up for you!". Just "I'm not sure..."

I quickly told her that it was Laundry and that I saw it online. She just looked at me again with a blank face and after we stared at each other for what felt like an eternity, she said something like, "Yeah...I don't know. We don't always have the same stuff in the store that's online...." and trails off. Yet, again, no offer to look it up or help me any further.

I'd totally lost patience at this moment because time was a ticking. I looked up and saw a mannequin wearing a blue patterned maxi dress that was similar in style and color that I thought I could substitute if the other dress was unavailable. I quickly checked the tag and it was my size. Perfect. I'll take it.

Or not.

I asked the girl if there were others besides the one on the mannequin. Big mistake. Again, she doesn't know and just said she doesn't see it. Well, thank you, because I couldn't just take a quick look myself and not see it also. So I asked for the one on the mannequin. She told me she couldn't take it off. I said I would take it off. You would have thought I said I was going to use it as a bib while eating tomato soup. Right there. She looked distressed and said, "Oh no, you can't do that! You're not allowed! I'm not allowed!". Hi, we weren't talking thousands of dollars of dress here. No Christian Dior or Givenchy. We're talking about a $138 Maggy something. A sun dress for Pete's sake.

She said she'd have to call someone in some office somewhere in there. Tick tock, tick tock. She told me whoever she called is too busy to take it down. I told her that it was okay, I'd take it down myself. She then says to an older woman working, that I want to try a dress from the mannequin. She is whispering and they're looking at me like I've asked them to help me smuggle the Von Trapp family out of Austria. I was ready to scream. I'm now looking at them, with worry, wondering what they would do if they got stuck in a paper bag.

The older woman said she was busy but if the younger girl could do returns, she'd take apart the mannequin, as she's saying that "someone" is going to kill her. I guess the mysterious busy person from the phone? Charlie of Charlie's Angels? Somewhere in this nonsense they asked me why I didn't just buy the one online. I said- "I want to see it and try it on in person. Because the store is RIGHT HERE. I don't NEED to order online if I can just come here." Again, looking at me like I'm speaking a different language. You know, like the language of logic.

So now it's a whole scene. She couldn't seem to get the dress off by just lifting it up and pulling it over the head. She's now trying to figure out how to take the whole damn thing apart- unsnapping arms, then hands, only to have an arm amputee left. Finally she was able to remove the dress and my head was about to start spinning around and explode. I thought I was in the twilight zone. She then wouldn't hand me the dress. She needed to get a hanger. I DON'T NEED A HANGER OR HOOPLA. JUST GIVE ME THE DRESS TO TRY ON! Not to mention, I felt totally pressured to buy it because time was running out and now there was a dismembered, naked mannequin left. I wasn't totally blown away by it but I figured I could return it if it didn't work for me once I got home.

I came out of the dressing room to buy it and was left with two other salespeople. The one girl who ended up ringing me up was super nice, but in her niceness seemed to completely miss that I was in a big hurry. I just. needed. out. But she was great- I just didn't have time for her explanation of Nordstrom points, to discuss how pretty the dress is, etc. I'm pretty sure my body language said I was in a hurry, but not everyone is that perceptive.

At any rate, I took it home & I never opened the bag. B, E and I ended up going back to the mall the next day because it was raining and we had nothing else to do. I found something else that looked better and was like fifty dollars cheaper. Score!  I returned the Nordstrom dress this morning. Apparently they had their A-team in today because the whole transaction took less than five minutes.

But seriously. The mannequin thing. If a customer wants something, even in a department store where there are "rules", I'm pretty sure they'd rather something sold than on the mannequin. If not, someone in visual merchandising school me in how taking something off is the ruination of the store. What happened to just thinking on your feet and worrying about the consequences later? Or the whole, "If Woody would have gone straight to the police, this would have never happened..." thing. Had that first salesperson I encountered just been a little more proactive, asking me about the dress I came for and looked it up, maybe it was there. Maybe I could've tried it on and been done with it.

I just don't get people. It's like if it's not in the manual, not an explicit direction, not from a list, without permission, like robots, they don't know what to do. No ability to just take a situation and make a quick problem solving decision. Maybe they need to role-play the tough scenarios such as getting a dress someone asks for off a mannequin....

This whole scenario is why mommy and daddy can't do their kids homework for them, call employers to find out why their kid didn't get the job, and call out sick for them at their jobs. Because all that does is leave me with a saucer-eyed girl who only has the answer "I don't know" and thinks that should be the end of the conversation. I need someone who is just as capable as I am of getting us out of the foxhole.

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