13 October, 2012

Lingerie Confessions

In a former life, I worked for Victoria's Secret. (Somehow, that statement always draws a response. Like saying I was with King Arthur at Camelot, or was in Anna Karenina's inner circle, or - for the nerd in me - that I lived in the Bio-Dome for a couple years. I don't get it.)

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PROBABLY THIS POST IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR KIDS. I DON'T HAVE KIDS THOUGH, SO DON'T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. JUST READ IT FIRST.
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Oh wait! Did I say "for"? I worked AT Victoria's Secret. It still made my mom blush at the time.

I'd say it's like any other retail job, but there is just a slight difference. We called it "The Fitting Room Confessional" because women trying on bras and other lingerie are likely to chat about the ins and outs of not only what works best for their figure, but why exactly they like this over that, or what occasion is coming up that requires the purchase.

That never happened when I worked for a shoe store or the outdoor-gear store!

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I actually met someone at a party once who - on hearing where I worked - confessed to having "done it" in the fitting room at a local Victoria's Secret. The store in question was one of the lingering old-style ones, with Victorian decor, and fitting room doors that went floor to ceiling. Yeah. No wonder they don't have those anymore!
...but how would you... I mean, surely the whole store would hear... I can't... I'm at a loss. Sounds hot, but then, not if you were discovered. I don't know...
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ANYWAY! To this day I still get the raised eyebrows or the "Really?" or the sidelong glance of judgment when people find out about this previous job. It doesn't happen often anymore, but I've interviewed enough lately that I've been reminiscing.

The Fitting Room Confessional. Yes indeedy.

  • There was the woman (tiny, petite, thing) who'd just had augmentation surgery, and her doctor advised her to wait until the swelling went down to get new bras, but she needed something in the interim anyway, so here she was! ...and by the way, could I tell her how this sheer one looks on these new tatas? Do I notice any swelling? (how would I know?)
  • We had a flurry of sales over the course of a few weeks, when a Hooters was opening up on the highway between our store and the nearest neighboring Victoria's Secret. [SPOILER ALERT for Hooters' fans] Of course these average-sized women wanted the bra that would give them the most oomph, and we got very good at thinking out of the box for the best way to artificially add cleavage to a non-endowed woman. Hint to Hooters'-haters: While some of these girls seemed to believe/know that the best thing going for them was their looks, there were some very intelligent women among this crowd, who just weren't afraid to use their assets! Don't be hating the Hooters' Girls!
  • Then we had the regular customer who came in almost weekly (I think she worked in the mall) to tell us all about her sex-life with her boyfriend who supposedly proposed somewhere along the line, and then supposedly she got pregnant and...yeah, I can't even say all the stuff she told us. It was pretty gross. I say "supposedly" because there was an obvious crack in her growing tale, so we were skeptical.
  • One time I was helping a customer who turned out not to be interested in making a purchase, but figured a store like ours was a good place to hook into the "swinger" community! She and her family were passing through town and they wondered where they could find alternative partners and did I know...? Now, by this time, I had gotten very good at keeping a straight face and not showing shock at, well, anything. I'm not a judgmental person: they're welcome to swing with whomever they want, but I didn't know of any place they'd find that community. Sorry.

Her:...Well, what about you?
Me:...! ...uh...
Her: I mean, you seem pretty okay with the idea. Some people get all shocked...
Me (trying to catch the eye of another employee):... Well, ...I'm ...
Her: Even just to watch. (!!!) Sometimes it's just more exciting with someone else watching. (yoiks)
Me (wondering why my coworker walked straight past without giving me a way out):... I'm really not interested. I know some dance clubs...
Her: A dance club's not the same. I can bring my husband back and you can talk to him.
Me: No, please. I'm really not going to join you. I'm flattered, but after we close I really have to go home.

I can't recall how I extricated myself from the conversation, but she eventually left. I turned on my coworker who had heard the entire thing and asked why she didn't help, and she, smiling, told me she thought I handled it very well! Then, when we left after closing, this woman, her husband, and two kids were standing at the unofficial mall exit across from the store.

That's my favorite. The woman who wanted me to join their threesome. Just, mind-blowing. It had to take some guts on her part to ask, I gotta hand it to her!

  • What else? Oh, there was the man who came in - totally comfortable in Victoria's Secret - buying something for his wife (and he showed me a picture of them together, very lovely) but somehow the conversation drifted into the realm of S&M, and what really isn't S&M, and the facts of how to make a "rope-dress" and that if you use soft cord and not ROPE ...oh wait, you don't know what I'm talkng about? You take the cord and knot it in specific places that leave everything you want access to uncovered, but then the ropes are there to grab, control, hook up to other stuff ...He actually went into a lot of detail about how precisely to make it, and where precisely the knots go, and what type of knot is best.

I really am not into any of that stuff. I really don't want to know about the sex lives of strangers, but when your job requires you to be in the face of the public, you have to get comfortable with what the public wants. It was definitely a learning experience. I'm glad to be out of the public face, though.

I should add that most of the customers were just your average shopper, not eager to tell their life story, perhaps embarrassed, perhaps newly engaged. One woman came in ready to holler at me about the lack of plus-size merchandise...and then I got her fitted and found things for her and she left happy.

I can't be the only one who's heard surprising, or even shocking things from total strangers. ...or am I? What sort of things do strangers tell you?


14 comments:

  1. Geez, and I thought I had good stories from working in record stores. You win, hands down.

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    1. Thank you! I'll take that prize. :)

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  2. The only time I hear odd stories about strangers is over the Internet. And all of those need to be taken with a grain of salt.

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    1. True. People who told me stuff at work could have been making it up, but the couple trying to swing with me weren't just telling a story.

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  3. Ha! I can't believe that people would be so weird about you working at Victoria's Secret...? I mean, it's not like you were working at a sex toy shop or anything. And the swinger thing is hilarious - I agree, you have to give her props for having the balls to even ask...

    I can't off the top of my head think of anything weird someone's asked/told me. That's odd, because I know it's happened! Why am I drawing a blank? Oh well :)

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    1. Didn't you formerly work as a bikini-waxer? I would imagine those women would open up A LOT!

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  4. I used to own a tattoo shop and these conversation were encountered on a daily basis. It was amazing how many people thought that just because we did tattoos, they could talk about the deepest darkest secrets of their perversions. And some of it was pretty sick.

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    1. You have told me some of those. I wonder if you'd be able to blog about that, or if some of the people are among your audience...

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  5. And now I feel left out because nobody ever approaced me at my job at Subway to ask if I wanted to have a threeway. Only thing they ever asked me for was extra pickles. Damn, girl, you get ALL the luck! ;)

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    1. Well, that was a pretty awkward situation, but it makes a good story!

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  6. Wow, those are some great stories!

    While I was in college, I ran into a guy I went to high school with working at Victoria's Secret...which was interesting. Did you work with any guys? I wonder what kind of stories he heard.

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    1. The store that hired me had a male (gay) store manager. Later, when I worked at a different location, we had a guy running the stock room. He was not allowed near the fitting rooms, and didn't really interact with shoppers.

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  7. You just pointed out exactly why I hate to work retail. For me, when I did work retail, in Baltimore, near the ghetto I heard about a million 'I am going to get clean and make something of myself' proclamations from poeple who were not going to get clean and make something of themselves.

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    1. The worst were the returns. I've worked places that will accept returns even when the item was clearly worn but ...lingerie? Ew. I saw some nasty stuff.

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I enjoy a good debate. Feel free to shake things up. Tell me I'm wrong. Ask me why I have such a weird opinion. ...or, just laugh and tell how this relates to you and your life.