Friday, April 13, 2007
Ah, another "first" in New York City today!
Let's see...there've been my first books bought (5 books about NYC at the famous "Strand"---world's largest bookstore!), first haircut (at the Blue Velvet-esque "Chelsea Styles"), first movie seen ("The Queen" at Chelsea Cinema; 2nd was "Flamingo Road" at the MoMA), first bar/band seen ("Brighton Bar" in Jersey/Ian Mitchell of the Bay City Rollers), first restaurant (the "Coral" in Washington Heights---a whole gyro plate for only $7.50!), first job (smearing makeup for MAC cosmetics)...
Today, I did my first clothes/shoe shopping in anticipation of a job interview with a major finance corporation on Monday. When I found out about the interview this morning, I knew my wardrobe as is was completely pitiful and unfit for corporate consumption. I had brought exactly ONE pair of dress slacks with me from Austin, and one pair of dressy shoes, and all my shirts were sweatery (since that was all I could fit in my suitcase when I packed in February; not that any of my blouses are in too good a shape, either)...And I can't even blame the fact that over half my clothes are still back home---In Austin, I worked for a publishing company for several years, where I could wear jeans or pants of jean-like material, and only the top editors (if that) bothered to wear suits or expensive clothes; I just had no nice businesslike-clothes ANYWHERE!
Another stressor was that I had no clue where to shop in NYC. Austin has malls galore, and I knew the few good boutique stores to go to for "cool" shoes or vintage clothes. Here, I had no idea what the hell I was doing. (I'd asked a co-worker back at MAC, who was from Queens, and she had recommended TJMaxx!---They have those back in Austin; I've been there maybe twice and I HATE their disorganization and overall crappy quality. So that was out. And this time I really couldn't afford something high-scale like Bloomingdale's...
Anyhow, after canvassing the few other women that I knew here in town and telling them what I needed, I came up with a plan to go to Macy's. I had no idea what to expect: my old NYC tourist guide that I consulted basically said that it was the world's largest store (10 floors) and a madhouse! So I was a-feared. Unnecessarily so. It was right off the Penn Station subway stop, and the greeter at the door was a dream, directing me to a handy visitors' guide that spelled out exactly where everything was located. After one saleslady directed me wrongly, I finally made it to the "regular" women's department (non-juniors, non-large, non-petite---all on separate floors---the place is HUGE!), where the three people I consulted were super-friendly and helpful. Got my crisp white shirt, got my crisp black slacks, and--for an unexpected bonus--got a cool gray-patterned suit-jacket marked down from $169 to $49 (I'd had no idea it was on sale---I'd tried it on on a whim and it looked so good I decided to get it, regardless of the price; what a treat to get it for only $49! Similarly, the shirt was regularly $70-something, but I'd happened upon a sale and it was "magically" only $29!) That was basically my whole outfit, and it only took around 1/2-hour of shopping time! No waiting time for the dressing room or at the register, either. (I was there pre-noon, and allegedly weekday mornings are the least crowded times at the store.) The check-out lady was chatty and funny, admiring the shirt I was getting; so I had to tell her the whole story---"My first job interview in NYC!" Good vibes.
The shoe shopping wasn't completely delightful, but still pleasant enough. "Andrew," a cross looks-wise between Andy Warhol and Michael Stipe (with Warhol's personality), was my salesman, and he was nonchalant and pokey as hell. (There's a system where your name and "order" is entered into a hand-held device and supposedly a little elf in the back fetches your shoes; I had to sit there for 15 minutes while Andrew walked around apparently aimlessly... At one point I had to ask him, "Is someone back there getting my shoes?" "Oh, yes." Wait...wait...wait.) Finally, I got the shoes, liked them, was ready for checkout, which is when Andrew had to give the "You know, if you get a Macy's charge card, there's a 15% discount" spiel. I was saying, "No, trying to avoid more debt," when he funnily, bitchily said, "Our fur department's just over there---you could get a great bargain." When I laughed and said, "No, no furs today," he continued, "Perhaps some fine jewelry then..." Now, I'd already been checking myself out in relation to the other shoppers in the store. I was wearing all black, had my subtly cool leather coat and boots on, my hair and makeup looked good, so I knew he wasn't mocking me for looking like a Joisey-Goil or something... It's hard to explain how I knew he was just being funny instead of being horribly mean, but it was funny and silly and I walked out of there in a good mood.
To make the already hugely long story slightly shorter: Bras and hose---no problem. Nice, helpful salesladies; both items on sale; neat and quick dressing room for the bras...
Yee-haw, I'm absolutely set to go Monday! Two or so weeks ago, I was on the subway and especially noticing a young woman in her 20s, all business-suited up, glancing nervously every minute or so at a resume in her hand. Of course I invented a whole story in my mind for her: Fresh out of school, on her way to interview for her first job... I forget now what exact part of town her stop was (somewhere Midtown), but I remember mentally wishing her luck as she got off the subway. And thinking how sharp she looked and wondering if I would ever be that well-dressed. Well, this Monday I WILL be that well-dressed! (Granted, it's only one outfit...And if I get hired, those folks might be surprised when I don't look quite as nice the rest of the next week or two... but, hey---my foot'll be in the door and after my first paycheck or so I'll just have to go back to Macy's and add a little week by week to my new wardrobe. And if I don't get hired, at least I'll have ONE darn spiffy outfit to wear on other interviews.)
This first shopping excursion was a big mental hurdle leapt. I definitely still want to learn where the best vintage and non-department-store boutiques are, but at least I now have a solid grounding that I can always fall back on. Thanks, Macy's, for a nice day!
BTW: I was kind of freaking out on the escalators today---there was something about how they looked that created an optical illusion as I was trying to get on or off, and I found myself always hesitating when embarking or disembarking, feeling as if I were going to fall... Tonight I read online that they're the original wooden escalators, from circa 1902; there IS something weird about how the moving parts blend in with the non-moving parts at the top and bottom... (Not to mention reading how a couple of kids have gotten fingers sliced off there lately! It's sad when it happens to a kid, but not-so-sad when the headline reads "Yokel from Texas Can't Figger Out Escalator"!)