So even though I'm now in a job that fits my sleep schedule & lets me work around books all day, I still work at Old Navy on the weekends. As much as I complain over the holidays about the crazy schedules, I love it there. The people I work with and the managers I work under more than make up for some of the less than pleasant customers. But sometimes it IS the customer that makes my job worth it.
Last night I was working in the fitting room, which I hardly ever do any more. Remember all those posts about how much I hate ringing register when I first started? Yeah...that's where they put me most of the time. Anyway, last night (and really the last two months) we were really busy. People coming in and out of fitting rooms, tons of processing to do to keep me busy and just a whole lot of crazy. I had a mother & daughter in trying things on, like you do in a fitting room. At one point the daughter came out wearing a pair of almost electric blue capris (it was a bit lighter than that, but definitely NOT powder blue. You do the math.) with green anchors on them. They are part of our summer/beach collection. The girl steps outside of her dressing room and looks in the mirror. I see in her face what I've so often experienced. The pressure to love what you are trying on because your mom wants you to like it/you picked it out because you thought it would work/you WANT to like it but you just don't. No one had asked for my opinion (which actually does happen. I break out in nervous sweats and finish whatever advice I give with, "But, bottom line, if you feel comfortable in it, go for it." Which, incidentially, is always true.) so I kept processing, but still kept a eye on the scene unfolding. The mom came over and started commenting on how cute the pants were, but I could see in the girls eyes some misgivings. I must have been paying too much attention, unintentionally, and I got called over for opinion time. The mom was very verbal and very insistent about these pants and I really wanted to just send her away so I could talk to the girl. I didn't. Don't worry. But when I went over, my main conversation was with the daughter.
"Tell me what you love best abut these pants." It is always good to start with the positive.
"They are really soft! Really soft. And comfortable too."
Here the mom interrupts with, "She picked them out herself! She liked them when she first saw them and even though she walked past them at first, she went back to pick up a pair."
Ah. The Indecisive Shopper. This has me written all over it. No one understands this girl like me at this point in the shopping experience. So I asked the question I know I need to be asked.
"What is your biggest problem with them?" I asked.
The girl paused and out came a half truth. "I don't know what color shirts to wear with them."
Easily solved. We talked about summer brights, coordinating colors and neutral tops.
"Do you feel comfortable in them? Because no matter how well they fit or what kind of sale they are on, if you don't like them and you don't feel comfortable in them, you aren't going to wear them." This one I know from too much experience.
The girl hesitated and the next thing she said broke my heart. We were more alike than I realized: I'm afraid of what other people will say at school.
The mom starts spouting things like, "If it wasn't in style, Old Navy wouldn't be selling it! Girls at school will see you wearing them and I bet the very next week will be wearing them too!"
To me, that wasn't the important bit. I looked at the girl and said, "Hon, do you like them?" She nodded. "Then that is all that matters. I know it seems really important to have others like what you wear, but I promise that it really isn't so important. If you like them, then it doesn't matter what they think."
She laughed a little and, I don't know, maybe for a moment she believed me. Maybe she didn't. If I had someone tell me that in a fitting room at her age, would it have made a difference in the way I see myself? Again, I don't know. Maybe.
For her though, I hope it did.