It was mid-day in the Lingerie Department. As usual, the morning had been slow, just the regulars--Monica, who stops by every morning to finger the sales racks (she's about seventy and clearly enjoys that everyone in the department store knows her name), tourists rabid for shopping after a year spent saving up for the big vacay (they never want to buy lingerie because they can't really show it off when they get home: "Look what I got in San Diego!!!"), and a parade of middle managers from my own store checking in on the total lack of sales thus far that day.
A woman came in, obviously in the wrong bra size. We refer to it as the "four-boob phenomenon," when the breasts are too large for the cups and puff up over the tops, creating the appearance that the woman in question has four boobs. I was desperate to get her into the fitting room for her own sake, commissions be damned. How I wish I could be like the team on "What Not to Wear" and just tell people out and out how terrible they look and how much they need help.
Finally I got her into the room, and discovered, to my dismay, that she was one of the proudly immodest. Which is to say, she preferred having her tits toward me rather than toward the wall like a normal person as we switched out bra after bra. C'mon, people, I'm Midwestern! Have a heart.
She was buying happily, loving the giant supportive Le Mysteres and the thinner, cozy Wacoals. I couldn't sell her on the Chantelles, though. No one cares about things hand-sewn by the French anymore. All they want is utility. I found out she was visiting from Washington State. Trained to ooh and aah over tourists, I started babbling about what a great city San Diego is, how there is so much to do, this place has great margaritas and that place has a view of the La Jolla Cove that is to die for..."I'm here alone visiting my son in rehab. He's made the last ten years of my life a living hell."
So I did the only thing I could do. After I'd rung up her sale, I walked her down to cosmetics and passed her off to a girl I know there to have a makeover.
Retail therapy. I know it well. And now I provide it. Send me your tired eyes, your poor sagging tits, your huddled masses yearning to be well-shod, the wretched refuse of your long work-day; send these, the purposeless, tempest-tost to me--I lift my measuring tape beside the cafe door.