Sunday, April 22, 2007
Die Kleidung Macht Frei
After being so delighted with my interview outfit found at Macy's and getting the job, I then realized: Oh. I've got to dress like this (aka "corporate") EVERY DAY from now on! The one outfit wouldn't cut it. So I had to go scrounge up some outfits for at least 3 or 4 days a week (I'm just gonna have to re-wear stuff the other 1 or 2 days---I AIN'T gonna buy 5 suits!)...
Dear god. After the amazing Macy's experience last week, I today descended into the pits of shopping hell... aka "Filene's Basement," the one on Broadway and 79th. OK, it wasn't horribly godawful, just pretty annoying.
I've since cruised around online to find reviews of this place, and the consensus seems to be: "You've got to really love shopping and finding bargains to love Filene's." Well, I don't particularly looooove shopping. Usually because of the crowds. And this place, on a Saturday afternoon, had "the crowds."
Actually, the masses of humanity there weren't that bad. People were polite and said "Excuse me" a lot as they struggled to inch past you in the narrow aisles. And the suit choices and prices were appropriate for what I needed---a cheap, conservative suit. (I ended up getting a cool-looking black pinstriped Calvin Klein suit for $129 before heading off to the Gap and Banana Republic to buy some extra shirts.)
The hellish part was THE DRESSING ROOM. I had two rounds of clothes, and the wait each time was at least 15 minutes. Being from Texas, land of malls, there are so many department stores that no one ever has to, god forbid, WAIT IN LINE to get into a dressing room! The arm-load of clothes got damn heavy after the first 4 or so minutes!
Still, it wouldn't have been so bad had there not been a DRESSING-ROOM NAZI at the gates. (Again, the people themselves in the line were patient and nice. Where anyone ever came up with the concept of "New Yorkers are rude," I can't understand. In general and as a whole, people here are friendly and down-to-earth and darn polite.) The Nazi was one of those who took her "position of power" way too seriously---except it wasn't "seriously" in terms of doing a good, efficient job. She was a big mess---talking loudly and condescendingly to everyone in line ("Step back, we must keep this area clear", etc., when no one was blocking anything. I kept expecting to see a "Die Kleidung Macht Frei" sign over the entrance.) and making a huge production of how many items you had. (For instance, my suits that I was trying on counted as 2 items per suit. Duh. Thanks for pointing that out, to me and people for miles around.) But then she would wander off aimlessly; we in line would see others come out of dressing rooms, so obviously some were now open, but she wouldn't be there to let us in.
As I was coming out of my first round in the dressing room, the dressing-room-woman was in a heated argument with another customer. The customer was saying "Madame, you obviously are overwhelmed by your job and don't know what you're doing." "I DO know what I'm doing; why do you feel the need to yell?" "I'm NOT yelling. [to other customers behind her] "Am I yelling?" Jesus.
Of course, I eventually became part of the fray. (How does that happen?!) When I was exiting, or attempting to exit, after my second round of trying stuff on, I tried to hand the clothes I didn't want to the woman. She waved me off, since she was busy counting the items of women who were coming in. I stood there for a minute or so, and when she still wouldn't take my clothes, just laid my clothes and number on a pile sitting beside her and walked out.
"Ma'am, where's your number?! WHERE'S YOUR NUMBER?! WHERE'S YOUR NUMBER??!!"
In my first instance of being publicly rude to someone in New York, I bellowed back: "IT'S ON TOP OF THE CLOTHES! I'm not going to wait to get OUT of your dressing room!!"
Luckily, I was able to go ahead to the checkout counter without having her CHASE me! (The Gap and Banana Republic that I went to later, BTW, were also pretty crowded, with a pretty long dressing-room line at the Gap...however, there was no DRAMA involved!)
As I wrote the above, I just witnessed a car crashing into a parked car outside my window along the Hudson. The first guy made a real mess of the other's rear fender--- stopped and got out of his car briefly to check on his own fender, and then drove off. I did write down the license number. Should I be a Good Samaritan and report him to the police, or leave a note on the wrecked car's windshield? (Don't want the Kitty Genovese rap hanging over me... Funny (!), but that horrible story is one thing I remember hearing in the media about NYC in my youth---"You can get stabbed to death there and scream for a half-hour and no one'll help you!" That, and the Scorsese movies and "Midnight Cowboy,"---oh, and the Son of Sam murders---formed my early impressions of the city. I also claim to remember a time when I was about 4 that my mother and I stopped over in NYC on our way to Frankfurt; I remember getting into a cab at night, and the cabbie being a stereotypically old-school beefy white guy with a cap---much more Peter Boyle than Travis Bickle---but my mom claims that never happened!)