Tales From Retail: Naturally Brown

Picture it: Dallas, Texas, 2008. I’m applying makeup to a young client; she’s competing in a pageant and needed a test run of some of the products her mom was purchasing.

She had to have been about four or five, but she knew what she did (“I love the glittery lip gloss!”) and didn’t like (“No smoky eye, please!”)

*blank stare* Well, ok then.

She was better than a lot of my pageant girls, because you could really tell who competed because they loved it and who competed because their mamas enjoyed it for them. She loved it though.

At any rate, she was a pleasant little girl, and we had a great time putting together some looks while her mom shopped.

Once I got done with a look both I and my little client could agree on, I called her mom over to see how she felt.

“This is perfect! Ok, we’ll take those three glosses, that bronzer, and those two eye shadow palettes.”

Now, I’m geeked, right? Because selling is ultimately the name of the game in retail.

“Awesome! Would you like to check out now, or would you like a basket so you can continue browsing?”

“I’ll take the basket, thanks. Also, could you show me some foundation for myself?”

So, we keep shopping, and the basket gets more and more full.

“Ok, I have one more question for you.”

“Sure, what can I help you with?”

“I need a good self tanner. Which one do you use? That brown is the absolute perfect color!”

Pause.

In case any of y’all had no idea: I’m Black. This isn’t to say that Black folk don’t tan or wear bronzer, but anyone who’s seen self tanner on knows its a self tanner. But I gave this kind woman the benefit of the doubt and said, “Oh, I don’t use self tanner; this is my natural skin color. But I’d be happy to help you pick out a product.”

She pauses. “Oh, really? Are you sure?”

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Am I sure I’m Black or…

I had to have that internal dialogue many retail workers have when ignorant foolery comes out of someone’s mouth: you NEED this job. Breathe. Have a drink or two later. BREATHE.

So I’m just looking at this customer after her last statement, and she’s actually waiting for an answer. So I say “Yes, I’ve been this color for quite some time. Would you like me to help you find something that works for you?”

She scoffs. “I suppose not. I thought you were tanned, not Black. We’ll just take these things.”

…sigh.

She ended up spending about $500, but I was mentally drained after from holding my tongue.

I had a couple of glasses of wine after work that day. I needed it.

Happy Monday, y’all! 🙂

Stories

Tales From Retail: Five Finger Discount

I’m coming back from lunch, and I’m headed to the office to get clocked back in and get some paperwork done.

As I’m walking across the store, I notice a commotion in the beer aisle.

Really, it wasn’t hard to notice the commotion because it was pretty loud, but I digress.

I see one of the managers asking for a man to pull the beer out of his pants and give it back to him.

Yes, y’all. Folks steal beer, socks, makeup testers–anything that’s not nailed down. Even if stores have security, they can’t be in all places at once, so it falls on us as staff to keep an eye on the goods.

Anyway.

As the manager is asking for this beer back, the thief is getting louder and more belligerent, which eventually scales to him threatening to jump on the manager.

The manager, naturally, was NOT here for that foolery and was ready for that fight. At this point, the stock guys are out there trying to calm everyone down. The cashiers are calling the police, customers are horrified, it’s borderline bananas at this point.

As one stock guy is holding back the manager, the other stock guy is pushing the thief out of the door (sans beer; he handed it to the stock guy when he put his hands up to fight.)

It’s at this point I walk into the thief’s line of sight.

It’s important to reiterate: at this juncture I have little clue about what’s going on since I’m coming back from lunch, and I see one of the cashiers on the phone calling the police. I’ve said before that in retail, you see everything, so I was pretty unaffected by the commotion. I just wanted to clock back in and finish my paperwork so I could go home.

The thief sees me walking past. I stop to make sure the cashiers are good and to tell the customers everything’s cool. And do you know what this thief says to me, y’all?

“Oh, what bitch? You want some of this?! What you wanna do?!”

*record scratch*

Most folks have a part of their brain that keeps them from doing stupid shit on a whim. I’m missing that part of my brain, because after I took a moment to do this:

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I then pulled out my box cutter (ain’t just for cutting boxes, y’all!) and said “Sir, we can handle this right here.” He pauses in shock, and that was just enough for the stock guy to shove him out the door finally.

I sheath my box cutter. And walk to the office to do my paperwork. Like a boss, as the young’uns say.

Sigh.

I’m glad I didn’t have to use it, and I was equally glad I had it. But know I would have.

Yep, retail can be dangerous, y’all.

Also? This same thief came BACK to the store, right? And stared daggers at me across the store. I suppose he wanted to intimidate me, but I don’t scare easily.

I just went back to collapsing boxes. 😀

Stories

Tales From Retail: Racial Scents

Picture it: NYC, mid-morning, 2012. I’m approached by a male customer wanting to purchase fragrance for his sister and niece before he flies home to India.

So, I grab the fragrance keys and pull out some of the fine fragrance we have to keep locked away because thieves. He’s not happy with the prices, and wants to know what I have around the $40 mark.

I pull out some Amarige. I have that scent, and I love it. It can be strong, so a dab will do, and it’s priced at $39.99. He wants a bigger bottle at the same price.

Sir. This is not a flea market where you can haggle. Corporate sets the prices; I enforce them. That’s it. But there was no point in going to all of that as I only carried the smaller bottle.

“Oh, fine. What other scents do you have?”

I walk this man through the store, showing him different items and spraying all manner of different fragrance, and he had complaints about every.single.thing!

I tried to narrow it down: what are the ages of your family members? (old, and young, said he.) Ok. What type of things do they like? (What do all women like? said he.) Ok. I sigh. Now what?

I’m trying to keep the veneer of helpful employee up, but he’s slowly starting to piss me off. I’ve known customers to do this so that they can get what they want, but that doesn’t fly with me.

He finally decides he wants the fine fragrance again. Ok, I think. I’ve smelled almost all of these, so this should hopefully go quickly. He initially picks Pink Sugar for his niece, which leads me to ask exactly how young is she? Because this smells like cotton candy. Most popular with teenagers.

“Ah, she’s about 25. Never mind, I won’t get her a fragrance. What about my sister? She’s in her 40s.”

I’m thinking, 40s is old? But I pull out the Amarige again for him and describe it to him. Since it’s one I own, I know how good it is.

“You wear it?”

Didn’t I just say…”Yes, I do. It’s one of my favorites.”

“So people…buy it?”

…”Yes, they do.”

“Do White people buy it?”

Family, this man was not white. He was Indian and the same shade of brown as me. I could only assume his family would be around the same color so…what in all of the hell was he trying to say? At this point, the veneer cracked, y’all. The look I laid on him said:

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I didn’t say it out loud, but I wanted to…

If looks could kill it would have been some slow singing and flower bringing, you hear me?

I think he realized then that a) whatever patience I had was gone and b) he done fucked up and had better remedy that quickly.

“Oh, well, you know, other people like different things, so…”

I’m still leveling my death stare at him.

“Yes, sir. White people buy it. Were you interested in this fragrance, or did you want to look elsewhere? I’ve shown you all I have.”

What I wanted to ask him was if he would like me to get someone White to give their opinion. Providing him with customer service is fine for a Black woman, but her opinion means nothing. Mhm. Got it.

An hour later, this man left my store with only one piece of fragrance and left me with a headache.

Bonus: he came back in my store two days later looking specifically for me. Why? Because he “liked the service I gave him.”

*blank face* -_-

Y’all, if you ever come across a salty customer service clerk it’s probably because they had a similar customer to mine. Please don’t hate them. It’s just trauma.

Come back next week for a new Tale from Retail!

Stories

Fatshion Friday: Vacation Prep (And Bonus Story Time!)

I go on vacation in two weeks, and I am so excited! So excited that I am already piecing together outfits.

I’m not even going to be gone for long, but since I’m going somewhere warm (Myrtle Beach) I’m trying to fit in all of the skin baring outfits I can on this trip.

At least, until NYC can make up it’s mind to be one temperature.

Sigh.

Anyway.

I plan for this trip to be full of maxi dresses, sandals, and maybe only one or two new pieces (if I keep telling myself this, maybe I’ll stick to it!)

(No I won’t.)

Like, Eloquii dropped these shorts and I want them with this top:

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And I want to wear this dress from ASOS with some cute sneakers and a denim jacket:

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And since I’ll be at the beach, I already scooped this beautiful bikini from GabiFresh’s Swimsuits For All collection:

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Bonus for this: you can get two different sizes for top and bottom. So if you’re more bottom heavy (that’s me), you can go up a size there and get a different sized top. It’s super comfy, by the way. This will be the first time I’ve ever done a bikini, so I’m petrified. But I’m gonna rock it anyway!

And since I’m doing a bathing suit, I’ll be making an appointment for a bikini wax soon. I wonder how it will go this time…every time I go it’s a new experience.

Story Time!

So, the first time I went to get a wax, it was included as part of a massage package at a spa. What I should have done was get the massage AFTER the wax, but I had no idea what I was in for.

Once the massage therapist worked all the kinks out of my shoulders and back, I went to get my wax. The room was clean and smelled like lavender. Kind of like a friendlier OB/GYN office.

Here’s the thing: if you’re gonna get a wax, please be uninhibited. Because your waxer is going to get to know you really well. There’s no modesty; you’re about to spread for them. Now, not for nothing, my waxer was super sweet, and she never made me feel uncomfortable.

Until the actual waxing part. Listen. I’m not about to sugar coat this for y’all. This shit hurts. I don’t care the menu tells you about “no pain wax” they’re lying to you. There are waxes that don’t hurt as much (go for the chocolate wax for this), but you’re gonna feel it. What you want to do is actually speak to your waxer. They’re going to make convo, and it isn’t for the purposes of being polite (well, not the sole reason.) They’re distracting you. So speak. Cause once that first strip came off I think I cursed the earth for being round and the sky for being blue my nethers hurt so much.

Oh, and they’re gonna show you the hair they yanked off you. In case you were wondering.

So, she’s waxing and talking to me, telling me I had more hair in certain places than others, and then the line of the century came out her mouth.

“Ok, I need for you to put your leg on the wall.”

Put my leg on the wall?!

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I had contacts on in this scenario, though.

Please keep in mind this was my FIRST wax, and I wasn’t thinking that with my belly she may need some help getting to places. All I could think was the only time I hear that line it ain’t because I’m getting waxed. Then I think, well shit. Can I get a drink and some dinner first? We’re moving too fast!

But I complied, and I was nice and smooth after. Oddly enough, I end up having to contort in some shape or form every time I get a wax, too. By the way, they rub you with soothing oil after so you don’t feel so raw.

Hope you got a good laugh from today’s story! Happy weekend, y’all! 😀

Retail Therapy Shopping Stories

New Shoe Happiness, or A Story Of My Feet

I am coming to the end of an ongoing saga with my feet. For years they’ve swollen (along with my ankles) at the least amount of provocation: either it’s too cold, it’s too hot, it decided to rain or snow, it was a full moon, whatever.

And I couldn’t figure out why.

I went to see a podiatrist who recommended a series of injections. Because me and regular anesthesia don’t get along (ahem, it doesn’t work on me), I had to endure every single prick of the needle.

And it didn’t work.

Another year and change went by with me having to wrap my ankle or elevate it on my lunch break before I decided I wasn’t cured, like my previous podiatrist said I was. He also suggested weight loss would help, as did others around me. I even thought it would help, for a time.

Here’s the problem with that: it’s pretty damned difficult to work out when it hurts to STAND, let alone walk on a treadmill or do something as strenuous as CrossFit. I did yoga for years, but the pain and tingling even made doing something as simple as Tree Pose hurt.

So, this past December I found another doctor who looked at my ankles, took an x-ray, and discovered in about 10 minutes what my previous doctor hadn’t in months of treatment:

It wasn’t my joints. It’s my ligaments. Mostly that they’re weakened from life, and previous activities I did when I was younger.

Never once said a word about weight loss. Apparently, this is a common ailment that happens over time. Funny how that works.

After an MRI to rule out a torn ligament, I now have a brand new set of orthotics and an order to wear sneakers at work.

Now, I can’t always wear the sneakers depending on what has to be done that day, but I make it a point to wear them as often as possible. And for the first time in years, I actually went home after a long workday without swollen, achy feet and ankles. The orthotics realign my feet for me.

All this back story goes to how over the years, flats have been my life. Now, don’t get me wrong–I love flats. But all of the heels I’ve known and loved over the years I ended up giving away because my feet hurt too bad to wear them for even the tiniest time. I’ve missed them. Some outfits just aren’t the same without a bold heel to balance it out.

Now that I have some resolution, I’m hoping that with time and me getting back to yoga to further strengthen my feet, I can wear some pretty shoes for my birthday month (I celebrate the whole month. I turn 30, so I’m partying for 30 days. ^_^)

These will hopefully be part of the rotation:

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These lovely spiked numbers are from JustFab.

I’m feeling better, and hopefully, I can regain a part of me lost to the pain. But don’t worry, I won’t go overboard. Just enough to pose and be fierce. 🙂

Shoes Shopping Stories

Announcement!

So! If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, feel free!) then you know I recently acquired a new camera.

I can’t even explain how excited I am! 😀

I’m gonna get to the announcement shortly, but first: story time!

I have been wanting to upgrade to a nice digital camera for a while now. There’s nothing wrong with camera and iPad pics by any means (it’s what I’ve been using so far), but I want to be able to make it look more professional and play around with photography more.

So I asked around for some suggestions. One of my coworkers, an excellent photographer, suggested a Nikon camera. My cousin seconded Nikon and added Canon to the mix.

I don’t know very much about cameras, but I had two requirements: it needed to be portable (I carry my life in my bag and I don’t need my camera to add extra weight), and that it had to take high definition video.

Once I took a tour of the Best Buy and handled a couple of good looking cameras, I decided upon a Nikon D3200.

My wallet wasn’t in tune with my desires, at least not for now. This is normal. Hold out two things for me to choose from and I can guarantee that I am going to pick the most expensive of the two. My mama says I got that from my grandmother.

But, at least it was all decided, half of the battle won!. When I spoke with my cousin about picking a model, he told me to let me know which I wanted.

And then…he bought it for me:

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I am super excited and super grateful for this blessing, because now I can…

GET ON YOUTUBE!!!

I have a webcam on my computer, but it..well, kinda sucks. All of the video looks really grainy on it. Rather disappointing. I’ve been holding off doing tutorials for just this reason. I could do it in picture form, but sometimes there’s just no substitute for motion.

And so, next month, I will be premiering my YouTube channel! I am so excited (and scared! but it’s a good thing!) to start this endeavor. Now, I know you’re wondering why not do it now? Simple: I have to learn to work my camera properly first. 😀 I ought to have it down by the time July rolls in. It will be coming to Full Figured Fashion week as well, so I’ll get to find my bearings more.

I’ll be doing nail and makeup tutorials, of course. But question to you, my lovely readers: what would YOU like to see? I love to give my opinion, so I can do that too, if y’all might be interested. Leave me some ideas below!

For fun: some more shots of the new equipment!

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I have a feeling I will be using that guide mode quite a bit. 🙂

Can’t wait to get started on this new journey, and I hope y’all will come along for the ride! I am aiming for a video a week to start off, and maybe more as time allows.

Have an awesome weekend!

Blog Stuff Stories

In Remembrance of Dr. Maya Angelou

I was in 7th grade when I was first exposed to Dr. Angelou’s work. For most students, the first (and possibly only) work they read by her is I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

The first work I read by her was a poem: Phenomenal Woman.

This work came to me in a time where most teenagers are reaching that awkward stage. You aspire to look, and be the same as your peers, and when you can’t realize that aspiration, it becomes about you as opposed to society’s backwards thinking. You don’t know you can be a rebel.

We were preparing for the Black History Month program at school, and they wanted people to write and perform poems. I had a couple of pieces written, but my drama teacher brought me a new poem. I looked it over. I thought to myself, man, this is so good! But this is really long, can I do this? Do I even believe myself to be a phenomenal woman? What does that even mean?

My teacher sensed the skepticism. “You can do this. If I didn’t trust you to do this, I wouldn’t have brought it to you. Let the words marinate, and we’ll start practice tomorrow after lunch.”

I nodded, and took it home to read again.

Here it is, for those who haven’t read it:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

 

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
When my mom came home from work that night and saw what I was reading, she was excited. She asked if I would be performing it. I nodded, trying to convince myself I could do it. Look at that poem, I thought. How can I be any of those things? I’m fat, I have bad skin, I have crooked teeth. Nothing about me is phenomenal, unless you’re describing “ugly”. But my teacher trusted me with this, so I will do it.
“You sure?” my mom asked? I nodded again, “Yes, I am. I can do it.”
I practiced and practiced that poem. I had the cadence down pat. I don’t know if I started to believe it or not, but I thought that hey, maybe this could be me. Maybe this could apply to me in certain cases. And that was enough to keep me going.
The day of the program, we had some great performances. The students were pretty bored in the stands, but happy to be free of class for a couple of hours.
Then it was my turn.
I hate public speaking. I hate it so much, because I get stage fright like you wouldn’t believe. And here I am, 12 years old, staring at the entire school in the bleachers. And they’re staring back. I felt my hand shake a bit on my way to the podium. “You don’t have to come from behind the podium if you don’t want,” my teacher whispered in my ear. I nodded, petrified. But when I got to the podium, I put my notes on top, and came around the front.
And I performed. This wasn’t just reciting. This was a performance, hand movements, gestures, slowly walking back and forth before the students.
I never practiced that. It just came. I don’t know if it was nerves or Dr. Angelou’s spirit covering me in that moment, but I felt like every word was being absorbed into my soul. Every move kept these students engaged, and by the time I finished, I had a standing ovation. My drama teacher was ecstatic. My other teachers were in shock.
So was I.
I’d always loved the written word in any form, but it was then that I understood how much it could touch others. And I knew that not only did I want to be a lawyer, I wanted to write as well. I wanted to do spoken word, and touch people with my writing as Dr. Angelou’s writing has touched me.
Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
Thank you, Dr. Maya Angelou, for being a rainbow in mine.
Heartbreak Positivity Stories