Thursday, June 30, 2016

not good at pretending

I get an email today from a friend asking if I'm going to Massachusetts this weekend. I'm not. 

She writes, "I thought maybe you were going to take a long weekend to the cape because of your recent blogs of unhappiness…."

Huh?  I thought I was masking it so well.  Guess not.

Life is basically good. Everyone I know is healthy and reasonably happy. And my days are not spent locked in a room feeling miserable. Really, I only have one major problem. If I could figure out a way to solve it, I believe I'd be happy. Or certainly a lot less stressed.

There's no point in describing it. For anyone reading this blog, it's been stated over and over. I've been trying for a long time to find a solution, and I haven't given up.

First I tried tutoring. I had hoped to build a business helping families navigate the application process to college. I created an online site. Sent flyers to private school students. And depended largely on word-of-mouth. I got a few good clients. Loved what I did. But earned barely enough to cover my phone bills.

Then there was real estate. A lot of time and energy went into this. Had to take 20 real-estate courses. Study (and pass) two tough exams. Secure a job. And then find clients. I sent out mailers. Contacted everyone I knew. Networked where I could. But when three people very close to me used other agents to sell their apartments, it kinda broke me. I was deeply hurt and became thoroughly disillusioned. The company I worked for is now close to bankruptcy; the owner had to settle some nasty public lawsuits; and the office I worked in has since closed.

Next was J. Hilburn. Great product — custom men's clothing sold directly, with top fabrics from Italian mills. All was good there until the commission structure changed last May, thereby reducing my small income to a minuscule one. 

And now there's Saks. I enjoy fashion and think I'm good at selling. But there is little correlation between effort and pay.

This week I participated in three different BAFTA meetings. One with the Board. One via video with top executives in the UK. And one this morning with the NY Events Manager. I like discussing strategy, and being involved with such talented people. Their insights and observations continue to humble me.

I know I still have much to contribute. I just wish I knew how to channel my strengths into a job that pays.

Let me know if you have any ideas. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

cinderella's step-sisters return

So the two mean sisters — the entitled ones who wanted a "big, clean dressing room" and then complained when the one they got was small —came in today to return two of the three items they purchased on Friday.

I see them snapping pictures of different shirts  and face-timing with their mother.  "Oh, I guess your mom didn't like the tops you got her the other day," I say.  Sister A (the only one who talks to me) robotically answers, "Actually, she did like them but we need to return them for different sizes. Can we just switch them out?" "No, I'm sorry,  you'll have to return them and then you can repurchase the new ones," I tell her. She is not happy with my response.

"Don't go anywhere," Sister A continues. She actually wants me to stand around waiting while she continues to video chat with her mom, deciding on which sale item to buy her.

I go to help someone else. The two sisters don't want to wait and leave. So now someone else will handle the return and the re-purschase. I will only be credited with the return. 

The story is empty. But I hustle all day and manage to sell $2,451 in merchandise, earning an astounding $147. But ten minutes before leaving, a customer from yesterday comes in and returns two tops and a dress, totaling $900.  I end the day making $78.

I'm not sure I can do this much longer. The inequity bothers me as much as the money. I feel totally taken advantage of. And that's a feeling I find difficult to live with.

But I am liking my co-workers. One of my favorites is Vince (that's the name he's chosen for himself for this blog). Vince always makes me laugh. Today he says, "Can you please write about me? I really want to be in your blog."

Vince is adorable, smart, and witty. He is kind and helpful and fun to work with. Everyone likes him.

Today he says, "I love these pants I'm wearing. They make my ass look great." And they do; he even allows me to take a picture (which doesn't do his ass justice).

Later, Vince comes to the back area where we ring up customers up and says, "I am mortified. I just met Y's brother and sister-in-law and after I shook their hands I wasn't sure what to say next, and so I curtsied.  I feel like such a nerd. I can't believe I actually curtsied."

His imitations of everyone are spot on. He claims he doesn't do one of me but I'm sure he does, and I'm sure it's perfect.

Vince makes every day just a little bit brighter. Even when Cinderella's step-sisters come in, he's still the prince who can make me laugh.

Friday, June 24, 2016

another day in paradise

Most people are nice; I really do believe that.

Even my new most favorite customer who returned a pair of online Manolo shoes so I could get them for her instead. I arrive this morning and see that she returned the ones I got her  along with another purchase, pretty much wiping out a day's worth of work.

But being nice goes far with me. Be polite and treat me with respect. I am not your personal servant. In return, I promise excellent service.

And please, don't act like these people:

I ask two sisters (in their 50's)  if I can start them a room.  "Sure," they say as they hand me two T-shirts. "But please get us a really nice room. Big and clean." 

We only have one dressing room that fits the description of big, and that is usually taken, so I make no promises.  When they're ready, the only room available is not that big, though it is clean.

"I'm sorry, but the big room is in use. You can wait if you like, or I can give you a smaller room now."

"We're in a  hurry so we'll take the smaller room. We don't have time to wait."

I unlock the smaller room.  They act as though they've told me they want to buy a beautiful 3-bedroom with terrace and I show them a tiny dark studio.

"This feels like we're at a sample sale. The ones on — what's that other floor — are so much nicer." (That other floor is where dresses start at $1,000).

I bring them lots of items. Different sizes. Even climb a ladder with my recovering back (slightly better today). After over an hour in the room (for these two women in a hurry), they come out with two t-shirts and a blouse, all on sale, totaling $234. 

One hands me the three items and asks, "Can you do another price check on these?" I guess she thinks that since she's been camping out in the dressing room for so long that maybe the price has fallen in the meantime.   "These are a gift for our mother. She never likes anything we get her so I'm sure she'll return them." I want to hand them back. Instead I smile and say, "Let's hope this time she loves them."

Another woman, around 40, randomly comes up to me and asks (in a tone that's more a demand than a question), "Can you hold this while I shop around?"  This, being her backpack.  

"I'm sorry, I don't have anywhere to keep it."

"Can't you just put it somewhere for me? I don't care where?"

"No, I can't.  We can't be responsible for personal items."

She walks away disgusted. 

But then I do smile today.

I am helping a lovely woman from Serbia. She doesn't see me and asks a colleague if she knows where I am.  She can't remember my name and my colleague asks what I look like.
 "She's a small lady with blond hair."

Blond hair?

Maybe I'm not who I think I am.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

playing tourist

My back feels the same. Miserable. But moving is good. Staying still is not.

I go to a museum, but not a big famous touristy one.

I've been wanting to see the exhibit Anti Semitism 1919-1939. 

When I saw The Power of Poison, an  exhibit at The American Museum of Natural History a couple of years ago, I remember snaking through room after room. Same with a lego exhibit I saw in 2013. And even recently when I saw the work of cartoonist Roz Chast at The Museum of the City of New York; multiple large rooms held her work. The exhibit I see today is not like any of these.

I read every word of copy. And still, I am able to see the entire exhibit in 30 minutes. It takes up less space than my bedroom. But its power is not diminished by its compactness. A sign about the exhibition states that it traces the "incremental stages by which anti-Semitism moved from ideology to state policy and finally, to war." It's a frightening testimony to how one man's insidious beliefs can systematically sneak into a culture and poison it.

I also learn some Hamilton history (to prepare me for finally seeing the show next February 22 when the cast has completely changed). And I love the multi-screen movie about New York's history, ending with Jay-Z and Alicia Keys singing Empire State of Mind.  That song grabs me every time I hear it.

Then tonight I see a play. Not a big Broadway musical. A quiet, off-broadway piece of theater. I meet Jill downtown on Barrow St. to see a thought-provoking play originally staged in London.

It doesn't matter how many times I go to the West Village; every time I'm there I have to ask for directions. Or, I can get lucky and bump into someone I know who lives downtown, as happens tonight.  

I love playing tourist, but am glad I'm just playing. 

I've been living here for over 31 years and the novelty still hasn't worn off.

Monday, June 20, 2016

oh my aching back

The last time this happened was February of 2014, over two years ago. But now it's returned. And it is debilitating. 

Lower back pain.

It started sometime on Saturday, wasn't too bad, and easily remedied by Advil.

But by Sunday, I could barely get out of bed. The pain had radiated down through my thighs.  

Standing was fine. 

Sitting was fine. 

But any movement in between wasn't, including getting from sitting to standing. I couldn't bend.

I drafted a note to my boss, saying I wouldn't able to make it in. Moving was too painful.  I took three Advil and miraculously felt better. So I didn't send the email and went to work instead.

Throughout the eight-hour day I felt little pain and came home feeling okay. 

But this morning, things are bad again.

As soon as I sit up, a sharp, intense pain almost knocks me over.

I exit my bed gingerly. 

According to the web experts, moving is good; lying prone is not.

I drop something on the floor and need to figure out some convoluted way to retrieve it. 

Getting dressed is easy above the waist, difficult below. I avoid wearing anything that requires opening a bottom drawer.

Picking up the morning paper takes some figuring out.

I try to skip Advil but by mid-afternoon, I give in and take three.

By seven, I feel little difference.

Unloading the dishwasher takes a lot of effort, except for the glasses on the top shelf.

I'd like to soak in a hot bath but what if I can't get out? Thoughts of calling my super to rescue me kill that thought.

Is this what 90 is going to feel like? G-d I hope not.

I research back pain. Usually harmless. But can last weeks. Am assuming mine won't. Can't bear to think otherwise.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

surprising reversal

I've written about Charlie (not his real name) before (December 4 and April 24). The entries have not been about his niceness.

But since April, things have slowly changed.

Nothing is ever said. 

A conversation here and there.  

More conversations here and there. 

And I began to actually like him.

He's smart. Interesting. And thinks about things below the surface.

Without my asking, he's helped me with a few things.

His initial rudeness no where to be found.

And though we likely won't be hanging out together over dinner, (after all, he's in his 20's and I'm ancient to him), we've forged something like a nice working friendship. I enjoy Charlie's company. I like when we share a shift together. I enjoy talking to him, in between the can-I-get-you-started-in-a-room.

Then this happens.

The day starts out slow, and we're just standing around together.

"I was thinking about you on the subway this morning," he begins.


"Yes, and I owe you an apology."

(Charlie never apologizes, and I can't think of what he has to apologize for. Things between us have been more than good lately.)

"I was a real dick when you first started. And I'm sorry. Now, when I look at the schedule and see you're coming in, I think, oh, good, Lyn will be in."

Honestly, my eyes well up. Because just yesterday I had said basically the same thing about him to a non-work friend.  

I don't know what changed. But I'm glad it did.

Charlie totally makes my day.

I don't get teary-eyed easily. Even seeing Me Before You didn't make me weepy.

But this really does.

celebrity sighting

The fifth floor of Saks is primarily filled with female shoppers. Sure, there's the occasional boyfriend or husband tagging along. Sometimes even a lone male looking for a gift.  But mostly, the floor is filled with women.

Today I see a small group of big men.  About five guys, four of them huge: over six feet, 250 pounds, and lots of exposed muscle. The fifth is covered up in a red hoodie with the hood up. It's in the 80's today and sunny. All of them are in clothing with the same, prominently displayed logo:

I'm intrigued. These men don't exactly fit the profile of the typical 5th floor shopper. So I  ask.

"Hey, so what's The Money Team?"

(Glares and no response).

"Are you part of some kind of sports team?"


Maybe they want me to guess.

"Are you all in a band?"

(Mildly amused looks).  

Then the one shorter guy in the red hoodie speaks.

"Why do you think we're part of a sports team?"

"I don't know. Maybe because you're all such big guys?"

The guy in the red hoodie — the only one who speaks —says, "I'm not so big."

"No, you're right. But all your friends are."

He looks over at a colleague of mine and says to her, "Is there something wrong with her (pointing at me)? Tell her." And then he walks away.

Unbeknownst to me, someone takes a photo and posts it somewhere on the internet where it ends up being seen by a co-worker.

My friend tells me it's Floyd Mayweather. 

I find him to apologize. He and  his entourage are in another department on the floor. I walk up to him and say, "Mr. Mayweather. I am so sorry for not recognizing you. I couldn't see you under the hoodie." 

He takes my hand. Shakes it for awhile. Asks about my Nike wristband. And then, in mid conversation, loses interest, drops my hand, and walks away.