The first two days were a blur of, "This is this. That is that. These things go here. And those things go there." I had to remind myself a thousand times that this was only a temporary job, until things improved in the market and they'd need sales people like me for real sales jobs – not this kind of horror show. Granted, it was a better department store, and I was doing commissioned sales – men's suits, along with leather goods, dress slacks and sports coats. There were some displays of better sweaters, too – very expensive cashmere and such. I was on my own for the first time. The young manager had gone off for dinner and the other associate was on his break. It was quiet – a Wednesday night just four weeks before Christmas.
I finished packaging my customer's purchases and put everything away before scanning the department to see what needed to be done next. It was very possibly the first time I'd noticed the store quiet in three days. I could see outside that it was dark already. I glanced at my watch and saw it was 5:30, and then took a stroll around to see how much damage had been done to our neat displays, and what needed to be restocked. At the sweater display I saw a young woman picking up the sweaters and tossing them to the side.
I hurried over to the table. "May I help you, miss?
She looked up, and then continued her pillage of our sweaters.
"Are you looking for something in particular?" I asked again, not relishing the thought of putting all these back in order.
She stopped, her hand grasping another sweater, and poised as though ready to continue at a moment's notice. She looked at me, and then at the sweaters.
"They're all black," she said flatly.
"Yes," I answered, picking the closest one up and folding it back, as it should have been.
She tossed the one she'd been holding, and I felt a fury rise inside me. I'm sometimes prone to anger, but it usually takes a lot more than a discourteous teen to put me over the edge. I was seething, but I said very quietly, "You know, if you were my daughter, I'd take you out of here and paddle your behind 'til you couldn't walk!"
She stopped, her hand on still another folded sweater. Her head turned slowly towards me. She looked into my eyes with a look unlike any I think I'd ever seen. There was a twinkle, perhaps, but mostly there was an expression of, "I dare you!" Without ever taking her eyes from mine, she tossed the next sweater in slow motion it seemed – but very, very deliberately.
I don't know when or where I grew the balls to do what came next. I took her by the arm and led her into the stock room. She made no effort to resist, but I heard her shopping bags brush against the piles of boxes and the racks of displays. There was a place in the back, behind where we stored the men's coats where the associates kept a "secret" break room. Because of all the clothes hanging on racks, it was very quiet, and from hanging around with security, we knew it wasn't in the view of any of the security cameras. I made sure there wasn't anyone around, and guided her into the break area. I blocked the "entrance" with a rack of men's topcoats.
.... There is more of this story ...