hbc logoThe Adventure: Retail Therapy

Have you ever experienced retail therapy? You know what I mean…shopping for loot that will improve your mood, albeit temporarily?

Oh yeah, you know what I’m sayin’.. 🙂

Well, I certainly did – except this time it was a different sort of therapy – one that had me on the other side of the counter.

I spent part of my December working for one of the world’s oldest commercial corporations, the Hudson’s Bay Company, during the Christmas season as a seasonal employee in their downtown Vancouver signature store.

And even though my inner OCD was appeased by all the stuff that needed reorganizing, I found myself in fascinating situations that only I can sometimes find myself in.

Good times.

crazy womanGive a person enough rope and they’ll eventually hang themselves.

The woman attempted to intimidate me by screaming directly into my face.

So I just stood there, stone-faced, not giving her an inch while she ranted on like a raving lunatic.

She’s done this before, I thought to myself.

Clearly, her bad behaviour had worked out for her in the past and I suspect she thought she could get away with it again by freaking out on a lowly seasonal sales associate.

I guess she had no idea that I’ve faced down bears and bull moose, handled millions of dollars, left the man I was madly in love with, and stood in front of hundreds of people while delivering a 20 minute speech in order to present new concepts and ideas  to my peers and colleagues alike.

One of my favourite parts of this entire situation was when she called me a stupid idiot.

My non-responsive reaction only added fuel to the flame, I must say. In fact, it might of even escalated her bad behaviour. But she did finally get something out of me, but not in a way she quite expected.

“I WANT TO SPEAK TO A MANAGER!!!”, she shrieked.

I startled her with the shit-eating grin that found its way on my face. I suspect it might have made her more than a little nervous at this point in her game.

I told her I had no issues calling a manager, so I picked up the phone and dialed the HBC operator to find one. I explained that there was a woman screaming at me and that she was insistent in speaking with a manager. The operator needed to know right away if I required security. In front of the crazy woman, I indicated that I didn’t require a security team to assist me.

Well, with all this talk of security, not to mention the killer grin on my face, I’d say I effectively intimidated the fuck out of this crazy-assed bitch. Pardon my language, but it is what it is. Also, I’ve never seen anyone drop everything and scoot out of the store so fast in my life.

I feel really great about the fact that she had the misfortune to try her toxic drama out on me. I still laugh about it today…but the fact is, there are mean bullies out there, everywhere, and her intimidation tactics probably unfortunately worked on other people before me.

Why else would she do this to some pleasant retail associate…aka me?

I know this is not very nice of me to say so, but I must admit that I am just a little bit sad that the security team didn’t take her down. In my imagination, a swat team comes in, knocking over canoes and mannequins, in order to squish this lady like a bug.

A temporary seasonal sales associate can only dream… 🙂

Retail TherapyNo Assistance to be Given to Certain Customers.

One thing that somewhat surprised me was when one of the full time retail associates I worked with told me not to help those people who wore casual clothing.

They’re not going to buy anything of value, anyways, so don’t waste your time, she said.

I was a little more than surprised with this horrible attitude.

I watched her as she behaved in an extremely ingratiating way with customers who wore high-end designer clothing – all the while snubbing those not dressed as nicely.

The thing is this, I know a lot of people who have a lot of money.

People with millions and millions of dollars. And guess how they dress? Well, for one thing, I noticed that a lot of homeless people here in Vancouver probably dress better. I’ve also learned that just because you have money doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to keep up with the Joneses and waste it all on appearances. There’s other things in life. And quite frankly, there are better things to do with one’s money.

So when this lady told me not to help certain people, I completely disregarded her ‘kindly’ suggestion and assisted everyone within a 20 metre radius of me…no matter how they dressed,

Last I heard, she was terminated from her position.

Making a Christmas Wish Come True

One afternoon, a distressed man approached me. It was the week before christmas and he wanted to purchase gifts for his son from the store in Toronto. No one would assist him because the items he wanted were from different departments – and according to him, no one was willing to do anything outside of their own department.

Not caring one iota, I promptly called the Toronto store and asked to speak to someone who could help to make this man’s christmas wishes come true.

I must of said the right thing because right away, they connected me to the store concierge, a wonderful man who was only too delighted to help.

Within minutes, the items were acquired, the gifts wrapped, and waiting for his son to pick up. The Hudson’s Bay Company also offered to deliver them directly to his son.

That’s good business as far as I’m concerned.

And truly, it gave me such pleasure to help this man. It was, by far, one of the best experiences I had working in this position.

Patricia Taylor | Monthly Adventure | Retail TherapyAfterthoughts…

Working in the world of retail is interesting.

You show up. You present yourself to the world in a pleasing manner. Then you begin to wait on everyone, hand and foot, catering to the prospective consumer’s mood – sort of being like a waitress.

However, unlike other service industry professionals, the retail person does not get tips – no matter how good the service.

But the things I witnessed about the Hudson’s Bay Company was quite interesting.

For instance, they gave an elderly lady a new pair of gloves for free, simply because she lost the ones she purchased just minutes before. The next day, she brought me a cookie for helping her with this situation. (This was the second best experience I had there.)

Also, there was a mentally challenged man who, on occasion, would go to the store and simply hang out by the elevators. He’d been going there for some time…and they allowed him to do it. He’s doing no harm and it makes him happy to be there, so why not? It’s better than him being on the streets.

But really, from the crazy screaming woman to the customers who just simply needed someone to talk to, I found myself enjoying the entire situation. And of course, there was the organizational freak-girl part of me who got her OCD fix.

Needless to say, my impression of the Hudson’s Bay Company improved considerably because of my experience working there. And quite frankly, they loved me enough to actually offer me employment after the holiday season. I liked them, they liked me…it worked out well.

I didn’t continue working there after my seasonal employment was done, but I have to say…from a total retail therapy perspective, I’m completely jonesing for one of their signature wool jackets – not to mention the wool blanket. Oh, and I’ll take one their canoes, too, please!

All in all, an excellent adventure.

[line-sep]© Monthly Adventure, Patricia Taylor, December 2011