Most people fall into either the retail side of things, or the service industry camp, and given that I am not a talk-first kind of person, I am definitely the latter. Though this divide is something I came up with in my head to help explain the endless ambivalence to life I had in my two short stints trying to sell pants for a living. And after the sixth pair of pants I tried on today, I relented to the overwhelming proof that I am a terrible salesperson, even to myself.
I can talk myself, and any customer, out of anything. If you don’t want to buy pants today, hey, you do you and save your hard-earned cash. Do you know how many plane tickets you can get for that sweatshirt? Do I have that jacket, oh, no, I’m poor, but it’s probably good for skiing or other rich people activities.
They usually put me in the fitting room instead of anywhere near the registers.
In eighth grade, the cool place to buy jeans was the store in the middle of the mall with the fake cow skull, seven hundred horseshoes, some well-placed plaid accents, and ladder-tall shelves. Given my penchant for eating frozen peas and all of my feelings, fourteen-year-old me generally looked forward to clothes shopping as a goal, until we got there and the idea of what I wanted to look like did not match up to the squat person standing lopsided in the three-way mirrors. Also my mom always thought I took too long in the dressing room, when I was caught up in elaborate pretend conversations with my new, three selves.
On one occasion, the sales lady, who was probably twenty, so she seemed to have lived forever in the future, told me the jeans I was currently modeling were not the right size for me, and perhaps I should try the wide fit. I was crushed and I never returned. So, stationed in the fitting room section during my foray into the world of luxury clothing, I made sure never to tell anyone they looked bad in something. I mean, I would never say that anyway, so instead I avoided talking about it at all. We were supposed to tell people how things run, what to look for in going up or down a size. Mostly I would just ask them how they felt in it.
And every single time they would say the bigger size felt better but they just couldn’t bring themselves to buy that number.
And you can’t reason with fourteen year olds, even if they look like ski trips and time travel.
The conversations I have with my three selves in dressing rooms now sounds much sweeter than it once did. I tried on six pairs of pants today, and all of them fit just fine. Granted, they weren’t jeans, and your actual legs in different patterns can only be so surprising, but do you know how many places I could go for the price of those pants?