Discourse / Editorials / January 27, 2016

Winter retail not the warmest

“Winter is coming.” Those are the words that I now know to dread when next year falls upon us. I’m not saying I didn’t thoroughly need break and I am definitely not saying I didn’t use it to my full napping advantage, but I will be the first to admit that winter break was absolutely much too long.  I found my own personal hell over winter break, and that came in the form of Macy’s.

Going back home was a bittersweet feeling for me. As I drove the six hours back to Michigan, I reminisced on both the friends I was leaving and the friends I would be returning back to. Visions of heartfelt reunions danced in my head as I wondered how and when my high school friends would rush to my house to cling to every tale I had to tell of the liberal arts college experience (seeing as they all went to larger universities). How different and daring I felt to be making such a trek — all the way from Illinois! I arrived home to a flurry of pets and parents, but immediately contacted all of my friends to see when they were coming home for break. I sat and watched as my phone lit up with the exact same message, time and time again:

“Not for another three weeks.” F*ck you, trimesters.

Not to let this get me down, I decided to make the adult decision and get a job to take my mind off of the miserable loneliness that had settled into winter break (not like I was upset by this at all or anything). I scrolled through the internet, fished through newspapers, and as I walked through the mall one day, I saw that Macy’s was hiring… in the cosmetics department. I could do that. I could definitely do that. I’m not colorblind and I know how to put on mascara. Little did I know, there was no training for how to apply blush and color match women to their perfect eyeshadow. I showed up to work and was thrown into a pit of hungry seventy-year-old women at the Chanel counter. I knew next to nothing about the products that I was supposed to be selling, so when in doubt, I would tell the shoppers that the lotion they were holding was “a firming cream.” For $80 a pop, I probably shouldn’t have been lying to people about what they were purchasing.

That was the thing about working in the cosmetics department — there were no trendy, hip, young women working there (besides me, of course), but rather postmenopausal housewives whose children had moved out of the house, who needed something to do with their time. Let me tell you, these women are vicious animals. They work on commission, so coming into work every morning was like entering a warzone. I would dodge past my coworkers spitting insults at each other: “That was my sale, you bitch,” or, “Next time you talk about me, say it to my face!” I was just a lowly seasonal staff member who did not work on commission, so I was treated as a mediator for fights. “You tell her that I’m not going to sell her products for her,” Jan, my Bobbi Brown counterpart, would hiss at me, jerking her thumb toward Ann, the Chanel representative. I would work nine-hour shifts, smiling at customers as they screamed at me for the store not carrying a certain product (“I’m sorry, ma’am, but I’m not in charge of which merchandise Macy’s decides to order”). With the constant smell of high-quality perfumes surrounding me, I would leave work in a cloud of hazy Calvin Klein scents, my head pounding. The only thing getting me through break was the three days I would be spending in Chicago with the people who I missed most, my Knox friends — my small glimmer of hope in a sea of 90-year-olds asking which cream would make them look younger.

It was finally Christmas Eve, and I had a seven-hour shift. I was fine with it, as the promise of two days off afterwards kept me going. With 10 minutes left of my shift, I was called up to the Human Resources office. My feet aching, I hiked up the the second floor and proceeded to the HR desk, where I assumed they would be asking me to pick up a shift on New Year’s Eve, or something along those lines. On the contrary. I was sat down and told that because I was seasonal staff and the holiday season was over, they would be asking me to resign. Merry Christmas Eve. Too tired to even complain, I signed my name where they asked me to, got up, and walked the hell out of Macy’s, throwing my name tag in the trash on the way out. I’m not one to come right out and give the moral of stories, as you’re all college students and can figure it out on your own, but in this case, I want to say it. The moral of this story is: F*ck retail, f*ck winter break, and f*ck Macy’s.

Lillie Chamberlin
Lillie is a senior at Knox, majoring in creative writing and minoring in gender and women's studies. At The Knox Student, she has worked as the discourse editor, co-editor-in-chief, and is now a co-mosaic editor. She is also a co-nonfiction editor at Catch. Her work has been published in the Galesburg Register-Mail.

Tags:  College job Knox College Lillie Chamberlin retail student life winter break

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1 Comment

Jan 28, 2016

Like they say…youth is wasted on the young…you sound like a teen version of the ladies you disparage…happy New year to you!

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