Today, I drove to the mall to pick up an order I’d placed at a major department store. It was a shop-online-but-pick-up-at-the-store-to-avoid-the-exorbitant-shipping-fees, quick trip. The item I ordered was a personal item. Let’s just leave it at that for the moment.
I really like this mall. It’s close to home so I can make it happen fast. It’s upscale, clean, has all the major stores and a handful of smaller independent shops. Very chic, as malls in the upper Midwest go.
Well, the weather here is like minus-forever-degrees-Fahrenheit and we’ve had so much snow, unless you’re driving a Mack truck, you’re driving blind through a tunnel of white… because the snow plows have nowhere to pile the snow. So, we’re like burrowing bunnies, in prohibitively cold weather, with the north wind driving the temperature even lower (I’ll stop now… I kind of like complaining about the weather… wait! Did I mention it is steal-your-breath-beautiful?!)
I’d never ordered online from this store before, so first I had to figure out where in the heck “parcel pickup” was… Turns out, it was in back of the hardware department. This is only funny because hardware is in no way related to the “personal item” I ordered… and the only tool I’ve ever bought in my life is a hammer…
I walked through hardware (feeling no temptation whatever to buy anything :), and into the parcel pick-up area only to find myself standing in a half-sheltered, open area. The wind whistled in, men were lined up five deep, and I realized this is where people come to pick up refrigerators and heavy equipment and 362” TV screens; things of that nature.
This couldn’t be the right place to pick up my “personal item”.
So, I backtracked, happy to step inside out of the wind into the warm, and made my way to the tool counter. The clerk was waiting on a guy who’d driven something like 272 miles from the back country. Grizzled hair, long streaky white beard, creased skin, ancient eyes and big as a mountain in his beaver skin coat, I couldn’t possibly guess his age. In no apparent hurry, he engaged the clerk in conversation while he wrote a check (who writes checks anymore?) and then rewrote it because he made an error. And then, I kid you not, had to write it a third time, all the while explaining he’d never gone to school.
I had to kick down my impatience. After all, he’d gotten there first, and there would be no rushing him. He talked about the drive, the cold, his lack of education, and finally as the clerk handed him his receipt, coupons and online survey request (reams and reams of narrow, curling paper) the old man took the receipts in his ham of a fist, stuffed them into his wallet and said, “I’ll just have the wife look at these. She’ll figure it all out.”
Then he turned and looked at me directly for the first time. “You’ve been mighty patient there, little lady.” He tipped his black and red checkered wool cap and I swear he twinkled. No, I mean I saw his eyes gleam like a Disney character just before he waddled away, bent under the weight of that massive beaver coat.
I asked the clerk where I go to pick up small items. You just know he sent me back to that cold open area… where instead of a clerk, there’s a computer with an extremely loud voice that repeats everything you enter into it.
Seven men were ahead of me. When it was my turn, I entered my information, and took a step back as the computer volume blasted me, repeating the information I’d entered.
Yay, now all seven men knew my name and most of my address… come on store! What are you thinking???!!
Moments later, three clerks appeared on the scene. Two men and a woman, each wearing overhauls, insulated vests, fingerless gloves and back harnesses to help them lift behemoth objects. They looked at the overhead screen display showing all eight of our names in full… (good thing I don’t have paranoia or security concerns…) and then, as if they were a seasoned choir, chorused, “what is your order?”
I tell you, I almost turned and ran.
Seven male customers, two male clerks, and a woman clerk stared at me waiting to hear what I ordered.
I ask you… what was the point of standing out the in the cold and entering my order information into the computer that then announced my name and most of my address out loud to be overheard by anyone in the vicinity, if the computer didn’t know what my order was?
I tried a low tone, hoping to keep my order private. “It’s a personal item.”
The two male clerks looked at each other and tried not to smirk. The woman grinned and said, “Honey, it’s all personal.” She waved the guys off and then asked again, “Okay, what’s the item?”
Seven men leaned forward.
I whispered, “Clothing.”
She rolled her eyes. “Sure honey, but what kind of clothing? We stack the merchandise by like item. Gotta know what I’m looking for.”
By now, I didn’t know whether to laugh or run. Is there no such thing as privacy anymore? It just seemed so ludicrous that I was standing outside, in a heavy equipment area, waiting to pick up a personal clothing item.
I eyed the seven men who had the decency to act like they weren’t listening… um hmmmm… right.
Here’s the thing. I really wanted my personal item, and it’s not always that easy to find, which is why I ordered it online. When I find something that works, something I like—I mean something I really like, then I get that same thing over and over.
Now, if you’ve ever been bra shopping, then you know almost every woman will tell you that finding the right bra is a true challenge. It’s so difficult, Oprah did several television specials about how to find the right bra. So, when you do find the perfect fit, it’s frustratig that so often the manufacturer stops making it by the time you need a new one. This particular bra is perfect. It’s black, low cut, works with most necklines—even the really low ones. Gives me the right amount of lift and I can wear it to work out in, or out to dinner. I LOVE THIS BRA!
So, I gave up all hope of any modicum of privacy and said, “It’s a BRA.”
Seven men plus two male clerks… and every single one of them zeroed in on my order as if I’d said, “Solid gold bricks from Ft. Knox.”
Honestly, lingerie… it’s more powerful than any tool in any hardware section of any store, and apparently far more fascinating than anything those seven men ordered because as my package was delivered into my hands (plain brown wrapper LOL) all seven of them stared at it as if they were Superman with x-ray vision.
Wishing you soft breezes, unstoppable love, and privacy when you need it!
Rebecca E. Grant
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