Clothes shops are dire places to work. The balmy monotony of it surpasses all creative thoughts until you believe you never had one. It's ironic really, promotional signs which canvass all four walls scream “colour”, “individuality”, “expression” and “joy” but the bland corporate truth is brazenly inescapable; especially to those spending nine hours a day there.
Arranging jeans according to size and style. Black 26 Inch skinnies with a twister seam around the leg designed for hipsters, rockers and emo-kids alike; all claiming loyalty and independent originality. The 34 inch boot cut whitewash denim with extra pockets, button pockets, no pockets; patches of varying size, colour and/or holes in the knees with an emphasis on the threads which remain. A popular look for the manual workers night out, where this denim is combined with short sleeved white shirts to emphasise muscle tone and gelled hair.
Of course, there are endless more. Carrot fit for the trend-setters. Branded for the chavs who wear “G-star raw” across their midriff as emblems of stature, confident in the knowledge that their peers will never know they got them for 15 quid in the January clear out. These people, however, are bearable. The ones a retail worker can deal with.
“Hello sir, can I help you today?”
“No thanks, i'm just looking,”
The most standard conversation which takes place between salesperson and customer in a clothes shop. A brilliant example of social decency between two people who by all rights should never have met. Especially not in this circumstance. If the nicety barrier could be lifted it would go more like
Assistant: “Hi, I hate my job because a big part of it involves me asking pricks like you if they want help on matters which I have no interest in, to say the least. Can I interest you in our new collection of fine cottons from who the fuck cares?”
Customer: “I'm actually not a fan of who the fuck cares cottons. In fact I do believe I’ve had enough from underpaid, overworked whining students giving useless advice which I never use anyway. Now do me a favour and fuck the fuck off.”
Of course, no modern society would ever deem this nefarious trade of word as suitable conversation or sales chat. The barriers remain, keeping mutual hatred and disgust at bay to be used in more acceptable ways later. At best, you can hope for a response of “no thanks,” or “go away”. In a worst case scenario the bastard can take your recycled, regurgitated line as a genuine show of interest in their shopping experience. And respond “yes”. Now you must traipse the badly scuffed linoleum floors, ugly pop tunes polluting your inner ear while the buffoon endlessly fires question after question on belts, buttons, hats, bracelets and all manner of unnecessary add-ons perfectly promoted, and readily consumed. Nine times out of ten they won’t even notice that your expert product knowledge is being read from the tag fastened to it.
“It's...£9.99 sir...49% polyester...I think it was made in China... No sir I believe that's in Asia,”
Then, Mr. 50 inch waist comes along, and you fucking know this sap is going to talk to you; anything for human contact which is all too rare for this bulging cripple. He will constantly push your personal boundaries, safe in the knowledge that this is the only place he can't be called on it. He will get closer than is acceptable when one human speaks to another. So close that you can smell his grease soaked breath as it struggles through burned out lungs and swollen jowls. So close you can practically taste the day-long sweat oozing from unknown orifices on this heinous figure. Too close. It makes you envious of the lucky retail serfs working in stores with maximum waist sizes. Those bastards get the joy of saying
“I'm sorry sir but we don't cater for waists of that size,” all the while laughing in their heads, knowing that they serve a better class of clientele.
What pity you have quickly evaporates when dealing with these creatures. As they incompetently warble from behind changing room doors, leaving you with temporary ownership of festering apparel, dark thoughts become welcome escapes. He is still telling you about his loving relationship with his cats before you kick the door in, bludgeoning him with the first solid thing to come to hand; a wooden coat hanger or the toe end of a solid steel-capped boot. He inwardly moans as you drag him from the relative serenity of the back area to a sea of fluorescent lighting and cheering faces of fellow workers all actively condoning this course of action. Placid customers become excited spectators, as if the padded seats were stone pews in the Colosseum itself. The gargantuan critter is weeping into his hands as you pick up a nearby metal clothes pole in preparation to finish the sucker off. Raising it above your head musters rapturous applause and unflinching cheers while podgy, swollen eyes greet you from what will later be referred to as the “crime scene”. Regardless, you settle to pick out his left temple. It will be quick.
“How does this look?”
Reality has a way of quickly removing peaceful grins. You take the utmost care to ignore the fact that the shirt is at least three sizes too small for him; a difficult task considering his copious breasts are as subtle as planets. His stomach protrudes from the torso exposing pale flesh and tallow hairs while a prayerful grimace looks to you. This does nothing more but further fuel the feelings of disdain slowly bubbling within you. They will erupt one day, of that you’re certain.
But not today.
“It looks Great.”
© Copyright 2016 Parisan. All rights reserved.
Article / Non-Fiction
Article / Literary Fiction
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