In my twenties, just out of college and living in a new state, the first job I could get was a part-time gig at Victoria's Secret. When I told the men I met where I worked you could see the wheels turning in their heads. They were no doubt envisioning a sales floor littered with scantily clad supermodels engaged in endless pillow fights while I, in a negligee, politely rang up purchases.
It was by no means like that. In truth, it was a lot like any other retail job, but with more potential for things to get weird.
On a typical day I spent a lot of time restocking merchandise, straightening dressing rooms and helping customers. I could complain about all the people who left dressing rooms littered with clothes (or a dirty diaper in one instance!), or the rude returners who would accept nothing but cash back even though they paid with a credit card. But those things could happen at the Gap or Abercrombie. The one thing that clerks in those stores don't have to deal with is men shopping for lingerie, the part of my job that led to most of my best stories.
Men hate shopping, period. The only thing they hate more than shopping is shopping for a woman. And the only thing they hate more than that is trying to buy lingerie for her. Every Valentine's Day the store would fill with men engaged in clueless, tortured browsing for the item that would be sexy enough for them without inspiring looks of embarrassment or horror from their mate.
I became the unofficial go-to gal for these flummoxed souls because I could ask with a straight face, "is she more or less than a handful?" Speaking their own "man-guage" put them at ease, resulting in big sales and few returns.
While the men were mostly entertaining, the women could be downright scary. One day a woman in her mid-50s came in looking for a new bra. I offered her a free bra fitting and she measured a 36B. She protested, claiming she had always been a D. I sent her to the dressing room with a variety of styles in 36B. A short time later, I knocked on her door and asked if everything was OK. Much to my horror, she opened the door while in the process of stuffing two cups of rice in a nylon knee-high into her bra, all the while saying, "I told you I was a D..." I quickly left and had another associate bring her some Ds.
Eventually I found more gainful employment and had to let the Victoria's Secret job go. The discount was phenomenal but how much underwear does one person need? The experience has stayed with me a in a few ways: I'm always nice to the sales associates in stores and I try to leave my dressing room neat. And I always act extremely appreciative when a significant other gives me lingerie for a present; after all, I know what he went through to get it, poor guy.