To be perfectly honest, I didn't want a job. I was coming back home for a month after living by myself for my first semester of college. And let me tell you. It was bliss. I didn't want to spend my vacation working. But I knew myself and I knew that I would sit around watching TV and eating junk food all day and I figured I had actually adult up.
So I got a job.
And I figured I wanted to work somewhere that was to my advantage. Basically meaning discounts. So I got a job at Victoria's Secret. I figured the job was going to be easy enough. I'd been there. I'd shopped there. I figured I already knew everything there was to know about this place.
Now this is the part that I tell you that this job was so much harder than I thought it was going to be and how it was hard but rewarding at the same time. Actually though, the job was easy enough. There were a couple rude customers here and there but you brushed them off fairly easily. What I wasn't expecting though was the intense frustration this job brought. And the fact I didn't have anyone to blame.
I know everyone's complained about a store being unbearably messy, but before Victoria's, I never stopped to look at myself. I never realized how annoying it was for the associates when I grabbed a million things to try on I knew I wasn't going to buy, just because I wanted to see how I looked in them.
I never knew how frustrating it was for them when I messed up one of their neatly folded pile of clothes looking for one size right at the top. And then didn't even buy the goddamn shirt. And I can't tell you how many times a customer has asked me to look in the back for a clothing item. Don't get me wrong, we have some stuff in the back but never what the customer wants. It's usually what's already out there. In some cases, I've had customers I knew weren't going to take no for an answer so I've gone to the back and just stood there for a few minutes "looking" for their item. Or I've "told" my manager to go look for it. And lo and behold, they've come back empty handed.
I was almost brought to tears with frustration after seeing an entire room a ravaged mess five minutes after I had spent hours making every pile perfect. And the worst part was that I couldn't even blame anyone. It wasn't the customers' fault. They were here to shop. It's my job to take care of the store. The only thing I can do is take a deep breath, hold back my tears, and keep plugging away at the mess I had just cleaned up.
But despite all this, I loved my job. My coworkers were great, my bosses were great (if a little harsh), and most of my customers were great. Especially the men who came in shopping for the women in their lives (and for themselves although I haven't encountered that yet). I quickly learned that there are four types of men who come into the store.
Theres the man whose done this a thousand times, knows exactly what he wants, gets it and leaves. I love them because they usually know exactly what they're talking about and I'll be able to get them to the register in less than ten minutes. They're perfect if I'm doing a project and just need to walk someone to the back of the store. But it's also not very fun. I like the chase. The adventure of shopping and helping someone find the perfect present for the person they love.
The second type of man is the type who walks in completely lost. He'll stand in the middle of the store with a dazed look on his face, not really sure what he's doing there. He won't necessarily be embarrassed being there, he just won't understand what everything is. They have a general idea of what they want and you can usually lead the horse to water. And most of the time, they'll take a drink. Usually it's something simple like a robe or a perfume. They make things fun because you're not completely in the dark and they'll give you a good response of what they like or don't like about an item.
For example, one man came into the store much like I described. He really had no clue where anything was but he knew he wanted a matching set of bras and panties. But of course, he is a male and walked in without knowing his girlfriend's bra or panty size. Naturally, my job is to sell him our clothes so I take a look at his girlfriends picture and I can make an educated guess of what her bra size would be. We find a style he likes and I lay out three different sizes and ask him to tell me what size he thinks she is. I know in the back of my head that this will obviously get exchanged because even women can't tell their bra size just by looking at the bra, but my job was just to get him to give us his money. So I tell him to take a look. Well, this guy didn't think just looking would be good enough. He decides to cup the bra to feel how big it is to compare it to his girlfriend's size. When I realized what he was doing, I was on the ground laughing, tears streaming down my face. This guy had just made my week. It was refreshing helping him because he was genuinely excited about finding things and shopping for his girlfriend. It gave me some hope for humanity.
Now the third type of man can be good and bad. They are the type who are shy beyond belief. They are just so embarrassed to be there that they want to get in and get out. This can go one of two ways. Either he is so nervous about being surrounded by bras, panties, and worst of all women (gasp!) that they will buy anything you suggest to them. One of those men has me completing my quota for the week. The other way it goes is that they are so nervous, they stand there mute, not giving you any feedback. Most of the time, they'll end up leaving or just giving up and buying a gift card.
The last type is my favorite. Not because I like helping them but because me and my coworkers find them hilarious and frankly, they don't make a mess. They are the men who come in with their girls and try to act macho and tough around us to make sure we know that they're not there voluntarily. These are the men we make fun of or tell funny stories about in the break room. It's always entertaining watching them pretend not to be uncomfortable and force themselves to discuss "manly" topics like football or crushing beer cans with their foreheads. Making jokes about them behind their back makes the job just a little more bearable.
Overall, Victoria's was a great place to work. There are the basic reasons of learning the value of money (only 400 bucks after a week of full time work. Are you kidding me!?!) or learning to work with others. But then there are the reasons I never expected. I met people from all different walks of life. One of my coworkers went to Cornell University majoring in global sciences and was honestly going to change the world. Another one of my coworkers goes to community college but will soon be transferring into Stanford. Another girl also goes to community college but plans on joining the Peace Corps. If I hadn't asked, I would never in a million years guessed she would do that with her life. And then I met the girls who had children young. The girls who work so hard just to put food on their kids' tables. The girls who are going through intense custody battles. The girls whose entire families are in another country and are here with nobody to help them. Girls whose every cent went to helping their families cross the border or just to give their families some more income.
The job didn't teach me much. But the people taught me more in a couple weeks than a semester in college.