That Time When: The Clothing-Store Employee Restored My Faith In Humanity

My family had decided to take me out to the Crabtree Valley Mall for my eighteen birthday. I hadn’t been in at least ten years, so I was excited to check out all of the new stores and such that must have been installed since I was eight years old.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not much of a shopper, especially not for clothes or the like. In fact, I would fall into the same wagon as those guys you see half-asleep or texting on the bench outside of the store while their girlfriend/wife/fiance/sister/etc is busy perusing the clothing racks. Buying clothes takes me about twenty minutes, tops, and any longer than that is just ugh. 

Anyway, our first stop was to grab some birthday lunch at one of the more popular restaurants, The Cheesecake Factory. After a huge bowl of tomato-chicken-parmesan pasta and a side of bread and butter, I was stuffed to the gills and ready to walk around. We explored the familiar stores like Journey’s, Spencer’s, and the Disney Store (you bet your ass I still go in there!), along with the not-so-familiar, like the rugged/boho blended clothing store with Classic Rock playing on the loudspeakers and a name I didn’t recognize. My mom and sister were begging to go in and explore, while my step-dad had make the quick escape to the closest, manliest shoe store to save his pride. I was stuck with the girls…

As soon as we walked in, I made a beeline for the Guy’s section, ignoring my mom’s insistent protests to come and check out the Women’s. I picked up a few hats from the shelves, admiring the rows and rows of summer shirts while my mom and sister flashed me angry looks as they gushed over a patchwork handbag. A female employee came over to welcome us and ask if we were looking for anything specific. 

“Well, it’s my daughter’s eighteen birthday today, so we were thinking of buying her something, but she keeps looking at the boy’s section,” my mom quipped sharply, flashing me looks with every emphasized female-pronoun she could think of. I simply roll my eyes and proceed to direct my attention at the male mannequins sporting summer fashions. 

“No, it’s all good. Actually, I’m really digging what she’s got going on right now,” the employee says with a big smile. She gestures to my outfit, which consisted of dark-wash straight-leg jeans, a simple black T-shirt that I had specifically bought in the fit designed for males, my gray-and-green sneakers, and my backwards black Snapback hat. “You’re actually better-dressed and more well-groomed than half of the dudes and women that have come in here to shop today!”

My mom could only narrow her eyes as I grinned, her lips pulled into a tight line. “Well, she likes to rebel and be difficult when it comes to clothing,” she says between gritted teeth. “I told her that she should wear something that was more…for her, so she could look nice on her birthday.” The irritation was clear on her face; she couldn’t believe that this woman would go against her ways of thinking.

“I actually really love your shoes,” the employee said enthusiastically, ignoring the death glare of my mother, pointing down at my sneakers. “The nice pop of color against the darker clothes…it works!” 

I thanked her, flashing my mom a smirk as the employee and I proceeded to talk about our plans for the summer and make other small-talk. After five minutes of pouting and pretending to be interested in a rack of sparkly blouses, my mom grabbed my sister’s hand and leads her out the entrance, calling back to me to hurry up so we can keep shopping. I say goodbye to the employee and follow after the rest of my family. Before I go, she tells me to stop by again another day to check out their next shipments. I tell her that I definitely will.

“What’s wrong with your mother?” my step-dad asked me as we walked to the next store, trailing behind my mom and sister, who were booking down the aisle like roadrunners.

“Her ignorance is rearing its ugly head again,” I reply. “That employee was cool as hell, though!”

“Oh yeah?” he said with a chuckle. “What’d she say? What’d she do? She definitely pushed your mom’s buttons!”

“I’ll tell you when we get to the next store.”

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