It is safe to say that I hold shopping for everything other than food and beverage in the same stead as things like pulling out a sliver, having a cavity worked on by the dentist or vomiting; these are all things I only do when necessary or are absolutely unavoidable.
Saturday on my way back home from taking a sewing class, I thought to myself that since it was Saturday and I was passing West Towne Mall, stopping at Victoria’s Secret to replace my favorite bra that was falling apart with increased frequency would be a wise move. However, as I approached the mall and saw from the exit ramp that the parking lot was packed to the gills and traffic to get INTO the mall was backed up onto Gammon Road, I changed my mind. I’m not a complete idiot – it’d be smarter and easier to go on Monday before the main lunch rush.
So Monday, I set about with my plan of heading to Victoria’s Secret to buy a replacement bra. I avoided the food court entrance and went in through the next one to the south, the arm of the mall where Sephora, Auntie Anne’s and Kay Jewelers are and not finding a map readily at hand I thought (later I discovered it was just inside the entrance doors), “I’ll just… go to the right. Victoria’s little Secret might be down that way… though I don’t remember.”
So I turned to the right and walked, noticing lots of new stores that I’d not seen the last time I ventured into the mall which was at some point during the last year and only to Kay Jewelers so I could drop off a watch I bought there for repair and that’s not really a walk INTO the mall…. But I digress. My walk wasn’t looking promising and then I noticed a storefront with bright pink signage that was appropriately called, “PINK“. I thought, “Oooookay. I knew PINK was the young woman brand for Vickies, but… maybe Victoria’s Secret is right next door.”
I walked into PINK, bombarded with some sort of poppy club-music and looked around at all of the sweat- and lounge-pants with “PINK” emblazoned upon their backsides. I searched for a clerk, and kept searching when finally some side-pony-tailed woman in sweat pants and a t-shirt (not kidding), yet wearing a very official looking communication device on her hip and a lanyard around her neck that appeared to be missing a name tag, came darting past. I waved half-heartedly, the “lost” look clear on my face and asked, “Is this Victoria’s Secret?”
She have me a heavy-sigh and an exasperated hip hike before saying with one of those “ughhhh-ck” sounds, “No. THAT store is eight stores down on the left.” She turned her back and fled to the back of the store, obviously fed-up with lost old ladies like myself. So, I turned on my heel and headed out into the main walk of the mall, turned left and proceeded to Victoria’s Secret.
Once again, nary a clerk was to be found I headed back to the Bra Salon where the fitting rooms were. A bored, uncomfortable-looking, and solitary man seated in a padded chair near the fitting room entrance. I looked about me, trying to see if I could spot the bra I’d come for but to no avail. Finally I spotted the registers, hidden along a side wall, at the same moment a clerk in the process of checking someone out looked in my direction, she noticed my look of helplessness and quickly averted her gaze. Nearly ready to give up, I turned and once again found myself spotting the elusive “retail clerk” as this one nearly sprinted from the fitting rooms, stopped short and looked at me as she said, “Can I help you?”
Yes! Yes you can.
I explained to her my mission: find a replacement bra for the one I had on.
She asked what it was? I responded, “Um… one of those convertible ones with the clear straps.”
She raised an eyebrow and said, “Is it padded?” I felt my tits and said, “A little… not a lot though.”
Her eyes moving from my chest to my face, asked, “Is it a ‘Very Sexy’ bra?”
I acquired the look of a deer in headlights and said, “I have no idea.”
She turned on her toes and bustled through the store back to the front, tossing over her shoulder at me, “It’s probably a ‘Very Sexy’ multi-way bra though we haven’t had anything with clear straps in years…”
She looked through the racks and drawers for my size, which is apparently the most popular size ever, and coming up empty-handed, even after a call to the stockroom, she breathed out, “I think we’re going to have to order you the bra and have it shipped. It’ll go straight to your house, free of charge.”
Since I’d specifically gone to Vickies because they have the bra I wanted, I agreed and we headed up to the register. The clerk asked me if I’d shopped at VS before, “Sure, years ago.” She asked for my phone number, punched it in and jingled, “You’re not in our system.” After handing over my driver’s license so she could enter the address to ship my replacement, getting my email to send the shipping information and reentering my phone number, she asked if I wanted to put the purchase on my “Angel Card”.
I looked at her, once again with a lost expression and said, “I have no idea what that is.” By now, the two other clerks and the three woman all at the registers each had an eyebrow raised in my general direction. The clerk who was taking care of my issue began to explain what the card was and I blurted out that I was just going to put it on one of my own cards, thank you so much. She continued with the transaction, and by now I was flustered with my wallet pulled apart that I tried running my card through backwards. At her offer to swipe the card on her side, I realized my error, swiped the card again and we began to complete the sale.
She cheerily stated that my bra would be shipped immediately to the house (great) and now I was in the computer and could just use my phone number to look up what I needed next time I was there. Unthinking, I responded, “I haven’t been inside of the mall, really, in probably four or five years… I didn’t even know that ‘PINK’ was a separate store.”
I folded the proffered receipt, stuffed it into my wallet and felt the eyes of all the women, customers and clerks, staring at me quite possibly with the impression that I had sprouted two extra heads instead of the fact that I haven’t really been INSIDE of the mall in all these years. I scurried out of the store, got to my car and as I pulled out of the parking lot, it occurred to me that my transition to “hermit” may very well be near completion.
At the age of 38, I have become the old lady who doesn’t know where anything is and finds the mall overstimulating and confusing.
I also know why I prefer shopping online.
*This post originated as an email (yes, really) to my friends on Monday. I shot it off to them and then thought, “DAMN! That’d make a fine blog post!”
P.S. – I ordered the wrong size and had to go back to the mall to exchange the ones I got for the correct size. This time I went in the right direction.