Tales from a Department Store Staffer
The item was a Helmut Lang leather jacket, beige, with shearling interior. It cost close to $1,500. I started processing the transaction in the computer, when it asked me the reason for the return.
“Ma’am? Was something wrong with the item?” I asked.
Annoyed, she put her phone to the side. “No, why? Is there a stain? I just didn’t like it. I tried it on with my things at home. I didn’t like it. I’m in a hurry, I have to get back to work.” She waved her hands at me and apologized to the person on the receiving end of her call.
I returned the item, had her sign the receipt, and watched as she ran off. I was putting a sensor back on the item when one of the ladies who had laughed at me earlier came rushing over.
“Where’s the return receipt?” she asked. I gave it to her, and she scoffed. She punched her numbers into the computer and, dismayed, threw her hands into the air.
“I cannot believe this. Two hours I spent with that woman! Two hours! She made me bring her every shearling on the floor. She finally bought that one, after I brought her a fresh one from the back.”
“I’m so sorry,” I said.
“Yeah, me too. Now I’m in deficit for the day. That jacket ain’t cheap. I can’t believe it. Maldito trenticuatro, that’s what she is.”
I don’t speak Spanish. “What’s that mean?”
“It means she’s a fuckin’ thirty-four. You never heard that before?” I answered no. “Oh, like 34th Street. You know, the knockoff stores and all the discount jewelry places? Thirty-four. That’s what we call ‘em. We know all of them, too. There are a bunch that love to just buy and return, like her. Look at this!”
She showed me the customer’s file in the computer and, sure enough, her return rate was 89%.
“Remember her face,” my coworker warned. “Don’t help her, or you’ll get screwed, just like me.”
Since starting the day off with negative $1500 wasn’t exactly appealing, I nodded my head in agreement. Lesson one: Stay away from the trenticuatros.