Saturday, September 24, 2016

the lipologist

It starts with a kiss.


Aside from buying clothes, customers visiting the second floor of Saks today can do more than shop. They can drink champagne. Nibble on passed hors d'oeuvres.  Have patches sewn on their denim. And get their lips read.

I can't resist.

"Pick a lipstick," I'm told by Elizabeth, the professional lipstick reader.

I chose a shade of pink, wondering if that will tell her anything about me. 

It doesn't.

Elizabeth then hands me a piece of paper and asks me to kiss it.

And then she begins her analysis.  

Most of the things Elizabeth says are true.

"You're well-spoken"

"Not loud."

"Can stay focused, even with a lot going on."

"Are very very sensitive; you take in a lot."

"You don't mince words."

"Are imaginative."

"Have a creative side."

"Are pretty positive."

"Can be impatient."

But a couple of Elizabeth's interpretations don't fit.

"You're a caregiver; you put others before yourself." This is something I would love to think is true, but aside from my son, I don't think it is.

"You're a good observer. It's hard to get something by you." This I know is not true. I sometimes miss the obvious and can be very naive.

Overall, though, I'm impressed with Elizabeth's abilities.

After my lip-reading session, I see my colleague Minx, who is a straight-up, no-nonsense, say-it-like-it-is kind of person.

"I just saw the lipologist," I tell her.

"Did she see your future?"

"No," I say. "I wouldn't like that." 

"She just makes observations about the kind of person I am based on my lipstick imprint."

"But don't you already know who you are?" she asks.

Fair point.

But it's still fun to see what self truths a simple kiss may reveal.

Although really? When is any kiss ever really simple?

Friday, September 23, 2016

naming rights

Work all day.

Catch a bus home (Via was a 15 minute wait — too long).

Exhausted, I find a seat next to a 30-something, pleasant guy.

We do not speak, but he appears nice as I watch him help an elderly man.

I don't pay attention as the Limited bus zooms up Madison.

I look up and say to my seat mate, "Wow. Are we at 79th already?"

"Yup," he responds with a smile.

I am sitting near the window.

He stands up to let me pass.

As I'm walking down the stairs, off the bus, I hear,  "Have a nice night, Lyn."

I look down, embarrassed.

 "That's okay," he adds.  "I wish everyone wore name tags."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

girls night out

Three appointments today.

The first is the least fun. My bi- annual dermatologist visit. 

I have been seeing Rhonda Pomerantz since 2004; there is no one better.  If she weren't my doctor, she'd be a close friend.  Anyway, she sees three suspicious-looking things that she's sending in to be biopsied. 

My second appointment is with my hair colorist Lyo, recently re-named Lico. She's amazing. I decide to go back to having darker hair with darker highlights. I feel more like me. 

And my last "appointment" is by far the best.  Eight of us meet at a Lebanese restaurant, Naya Mezze Grille, to celebrate Zelia's birthday.

(clockwise starting from left) Janice, me, Brooke, Shari, Pam, Shari, Zelia, Ellen
It's an unassuming little place, with a separate room in the back. Great food, along with great everything else!

Monday, September 19, 2016

a new vocabulary

It's easy to pick up new phrases when you immerse yourself in a new business.

I find myself now saying things I never said before.

"I love this new Jonathan Simkhai top; it's so on-trend."

"And you can pair it with these great high-waisted jeans."

"This new blouse has an elevated price-point but you can see why when you put it on."

"And don't forget next week's EGC promotion."(that's an Electronic Gift Card).

"Also, be sure to tell your customers about the GWT." (Gift With Purchase).

"And yes, of course I have been clienteling."

We have a back room for supplies and the supply room is always missing the stuff it's supposed to have. Basic stuff.  Like pens. Shopping bags. Rubber bands. Ribbon. Garment Bags. Stuff I need to do my job.

I mean, really. How ridiculous is it that when a customer needs to sign her receipt, we don't have any pens for her to use.   I need to go to a floor that is "closed for renovations"  and scrounge around for pens that have been left behind.  

No one seems to be responsible for keeping track of low inventory on supplies. 

Garment bags are kept in a closet far from the small supply room where the garment bags  should be kept as that's where we pack up stuff to be shipped out.

And there's so much over-staffing.  Four people are not needed to open the registers when the store is never ever busy until at least two hours after opening.

The other day a customer notices our stained rugs in two separate dressing rooms and comments. "These rooms are disgusting!" she says.  "Don't you have anything better?" Later I approach a sales director to tell her, and her comment back to me, hands on hips, is, "What do you want me to do about it? Get down on my hands and knees and scrub the rugs myself?" (My manager wasn't in the day this happened. When I told him, he called the right people and got the rugs shampooed).

And then there's the low pay. The returns. The draw. The archaic computers that frequently don't work. And the barely-existent vacation and sick day policy.

So I'm thinking, maybe some new words and phrases should be added to the retail-vocabulary. Words like:

  • Business efficiency
  • Accountability
  • Current technology
  • Respect 
  • Equipping sales associates with the tools to do their jobs
  • Improving employee morale
  • Subsidized cafeteria (so we don't pay $6.95 for a small soup and Snapple)

Life could be so much better if the right people could incorporate the right words (and associated actions) into their vocabulary.  

I'm pretty sure sales would improve as a result.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

love via, just not tonight

I'm scheduled to work until 7.

Vince (one of my favorite colleagues) is going to his friend's to watch the Emmy's; his friend lives directly 13 blocks south of me.

"Let's share a Via," Vince suggests.

"Great; I'll treat."  It's $3 for a second person.

At 6:45 I'm ready to leave.  

"Wait for me; I just need to close a register. We'll be out by 7."

Two customers later, Vince is ready. It's 7:20.

I go on my Via app and realize that for me to book two riders, we need to get off at the same stop. That's not going to happen.

"Vince. You need to order your own Via; chances are we'll be assigned the same car."

"I don't have Via."

"I'll send you my code. Your first ride will be free."

"Okay."  We wait while Vince downloads the app.

The we wait a bit longer so Vince can add money into his new Via account.

We both book our rides at the exact same time, assuming we'll be in the same car since we are leaving from the same location, at the same time, on the exact same route (up First Avenue).

My ride is 2 minutes away; his is 11.  How'd that happen?

So Vince doesn't book his ride and instead waits with me for mine.

I get a text.

"Your Via is 2 minutes away..."

Vince leaves for the subway.

My next text is, "Via #4292 is here!  Find we can roll."

Despite standing exactly where I've been told to stand — SW corner of Madison and 50th —my driver can't find me. 

And so she (yes, this driver is a she) rolls without me.

I take the subway home.

At least it isn't raining.

I get an apology and a $5 credit from Via. Not much of a consolation.

But I'm still in love, just a little less than yesterday.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

replacement book club

I've been in a book club for over 10 years.

It's a great group of women. Over the years, the books have become secondary to the socializing. The actual book discussion often lasts less than 15 minutes, but the great food, drink and conversation can span hours. Still, I miss the more intense dissection of a book.

Our book club meets on Friday nights, every month. But now because of my work schedule,  I can't attend. So I find a substitute book club.

7:30 a.m. my phone rings. I am still asleep. It's M.

"So, did you finish the book yet?"

M and I are the only people in our book club. It's great. We dress any way we want. We don't worry about the food; there is none. We have multiple, unscheduled meetings on every book. Unlike most book clubs, we discuss as we go.

"Where are you in the book?" I'll ask.

But then I need to qualify.  "Tell me in general terms." I don't want any major plot twists to be revealed.

M has no problem telling me what happens in a book if she's ahead of me. Recently I took a guess on the identity of a killer.  M responded, "No, he didn't do it." I said, "Wait!  Are you serious?  I don't want to know!!"  To which M replied, "Well you don't know who did it....I just told you who didn't do it."  She wasn't kidding.

M, on the other hand, will straight out ask, "This is who I think killed her? Am I right?"  And she really wants an answer.

I tell M to watch HBO's Night Of, which I loved. After 3 episodes, M skips to the 8th and final episode to see how things turn out. For a highly nuanced person, she doesn't like subtlety in her books and movies. "Just tell me what happens." She'd be awful on a jury where information builds and is slowly unveiled.

We both like Truly Madly Deeply by Liane Moriarty but agree the title should have been Day of the Barbecue.

For our next book club, we decide on two: I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reis and The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. 

We've already begun a discussion of sorts on the former.

I email:
I am going to read both…i take the kindle to work (couple next door) but will read the other (book from library) at home…just started that one…I’m thinking of ending things and i like it (thought she was talking about her life but it’s her relationship with her boyfriend she’s thinking of ending)

M responds:
As book club discussions go,  asking each other the meaning of the book title is a non issue for most people but you never read the prĂ©cis on I'm Thinking of Ending Things or you would have known she wasn't suicidal. 

As I recall you started to read the synopsis and stopped yourself saying, "No, I don't want to know." We are so different.

On some things, yes. On the important things, no.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

an email to tim cook

The worst problem — next to any real problem — is having very big computer problem that appears to be unfixable.

I bought an iMac in January. Stupid mistake. I hate it. Next time I'm going back to a laptop. 

So many problems not worth itemizing.  Every time one gets solved another one pops up.

Hours and hours and hours on the phone with Apple.

LaKeesha schedules a 10am phone call with me and never calls. 

Ed is great. Sr. Technician. I spend half a day with him. He captures info on my computer and sends it off to engineering. He has immense amounts of patience and expertise. 

Antoine in Customer Relations is a totally different story.

He doesn't help me at all, though tries to fool himself into thinking he is. 

My frustration with his lack of help grows every time he opens his mouth. Finally after an hour of going in circles, I say, "I'd like to speak to your supervisor." 

"I'm sorry, I am the highest level."

"Really?! You mean you have no boss?"

"No, I have a boss, but that person (careful to hide the gender) does not take calls or respond to emails."

"So if I'm not happy with your response, with whom do I speak?" (Intentionally showing off my correct grammar).

"Well, you could write to Tim Cook."

"Thank you Antoine. That's a very helpful suggestion."

"Im sorry, then. There's no one else."

"Fine; what's Mr. Cook's email address?"

"I'm sorry; that I don't have. But I can give you Apple's corporate address."

"Antoine," I say as calmly as possible.  "I CAN GET THE ADDRESS OFF THE INTERNET!"

"Okay. Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

I hate this question — with the false assumption of anything else thrown in.

I hang up. Angry and more frustrated than when I began the call.

But hey, why not?

I guess at the email address based on every other person at Apple.

I begin an email to

Mr. Cook-

I have little hope that this email will reach you, but I will try anyway.

And end with:

I am told you sometimes answer emails. I hope this is one of them.

Two days later Britani calls.

"HI Lyn. This is Britani Woods from Tim Cook's Office."

I've now been escalated to the very highest level. 

Carlin is helping me now.  Apparently he's the most senior-level technician that exists. And Britani is my point person.

After an hour with Carlin today, I suggest we reschedule for more tomorrow.  I have only so much tolerance for computer talk.

We'll see where it all ends up. But at least Tim Cook's office is now involved. I am cautiously