I went to the same family run business that I've been going to since I received that first training bra...even before I needed it. It's the perfect place to go if you are in need of any undergarment or bathing suit. They seriously have EVERY size color, clasp and solution you might ever need, want or wish for. They even have two options of dainty little heels with feather boas on the toes but I assure you that this is not that kind of place. This is also not the perfect place to go to if you are thin skinned regarding your body image. Having the selection they have for such items....everyone goes there and I assume many grin & bear it as I do.
Although they probably haven't placed one in many years, I would have to assume that this store's help wanted ad would read something like this:
Mature, very Mature, female wanted for intimate apparel sales associate. Applicant should have acrylic nails - well kept and painted with trendy color. Will also have beige or black orthopedic shoes and the ease to play at least 4 rounds of Jewish Geography with at least 2 generations. An uncanny ability to deviously insult customers while smiling and making customer second guess the insult is a must. Simultaneously handwriting sale while swiping credit card and manipulating cash register at a painful snails pace is a plus. We don't train...most likely, you are just this way. *Cold plastic tape measure will be supplied to the correct applicant.
I really don't mean any disrespect. I know that sounds silly, but that is JUST the way this store is. They have what we need and unfortunately, there is a bit of hazing to get it. I suppose, if my self esteem were stronger I would look to these visits as a rite of passage but alas, I'm just not that well adjusted.
Did I fail to mention that I'm an impossible fit? Oh yea, I walk all the way to the back of the store. Passing all the pretty rosebud colored panties. All the beautiful bikinis, all the feminine spaghetti strapped everythings and take a number, as if I were at a deli, so that one of the lovely aforementioned sales associates can go to the back room and fetch me some options.
I tried something new this visit. I made an appointment. Now, c'mon, have you ever made an appointment to buy a bra? My number was up, so to speak. I had the luck in that my associate was swift and basically non judgmental. So far so good. This impression was after she had hugged me while meeting her hands behind my back in order to pass the tape measure around both my girls and then again below them. I closed my eyes in horror and hope the moment passes quickly.
Without nearly a word or grumble, she left to go and fetch me some "options" and I sat in my 4x4 cubicle half dressed and listen to the other customers battle and survive their shopping experience. Across the hall, in the next cubicle, is a a customer who is also more mature. She is accompanied by her nurse/assistant. I hear her sales associate bicker with her regarding the green of the Chicago River this weekend. People will do ANYTHING to avoid discussing the fit of these items for sale. The conversation gets a bit huffy until the nurse/assistant puts a stop to all the crankiness and bursts both their bubbles. "The river is turned green by the use of orange dye", she informs the, and then changes the subject to requesting another size from the sales associate.
I sit and continue to wait for my sales person to return from the "booby back room" and my attention is now diverted to the mother daughter duo in the next fitting room. They are discussing how tight and short the mothers bathing suit should be and not in the good giggly kind of way. I quickly get bored by them and am surprised when I'm actually thankful my sales person has returned.
I always forget about the excessive "manhandling" that goes "hand in hand" (great pun if I do say so myself) with this experience. It's sort of like giving birth...you instantly forget all the icky stuff from labor. Anyway, I'm in the thick of it while I am told why this bra isn't right or how the seamstress, another character all together, could "make" it right. Saleslady shakes me while "adjusting" the garment to the point that I almost lose my balance. By golly she has done good. I'm almost impressed with her but not before I backpedal and try on 3 more choices. She leaves to take a phone call and I get a reprieve - my cell rings. I whisper, "Hi Mom, I'm in booby hell" Just by chance she is a few blocks away and with laughter in my voice I ask her if she wants to witness this brutality. Thankfully she obliges and I'm so thrilled to have backup enroute.
I sit longer than expected for Saleslady. I'm listening to the proud customer, 3 dressing rooms down from me, talk to her Saleslady. She uses a voice just loud enough for all to hear. She has the conversation I've dreamed of having for decades. And not just at this establishment. Y'know the...I've just lost so much weight and I need a whole new set of everything. Both salesperson and customer discuss the means by which the customer took to lose this weight. Saleslady gives the token job description jab "deviously insult customers while smiling and making customer second guess the insult". I'm secretly happy that customer has to deal with the same discomfort as the rest of us but also feel the angst that her discomfort would be more comfortable than my current situation. I'm elated to hear Mom call my name. "In here" I say, and in an instant I catch her up on all that has taken place.
Mom has been through this ordeal more decades than me and I tell her that for the first time I'm thrilled I don't have a daughter. To spare another human from this experience is such a gift. She gives me the tilted head, eyes closed, half nod. We both know she's right and that having a daughter to share all that she and I have shared would be a gift beyond belief but I can't let myself have that discussion with myself nor her at this particular juncture.
My Saleslady returns and I actually leave with 3 items. Two of which are for working out. The others are on backorder and I save myself the aggravation and the possibility of having to return to the store. My frugal self smartens up and decides to pay to have them shipped. Plus, I always like to see peoples facial expressions at work when they deliver a box that has SoANDSos Intimate Apparel written on it.
All in all it was a pretty good visit. Not the worst I've had. A few good laughs and then a nice lunch with Mom. If nothing else...It was an excellent experience for blogging material.