Posts Tagged With: shopping

All Things Chia

Today’s Daily Prompt from WordPress asked:

“What’s the most dreadful or wonderful experience you’ve ever had as a customer?” 

My post twists the question around somewhat to reply as the one providing the customer service. I’m sorry to have to report that it turned out as rather inept service.

“I’m making a chia cava,” the woman said. “Can you tell me what fabric would work for that?”

“I’m sorry,” I replied. “I’m not sure I heard you right.”

“I’m looking for fabric, for a chia cava,” she said again.

After the tragic and premature death of Fernan...

Chia cava. Chia cava. Chia cava. I repeated in my head. I’m picturing chia plants, chia pets, chia heads. But what’s a cava?

“My hearing isn’t very good, ma’am,” I said apologetically, “could you say that again?”

“Chia cava,” she repeated louder. “Fabric for making a new chia cava.”

She didn’t have an accent, she wasn’t from a foreign country, she could pass as my grandmother and yet I couldn’t tell what she needed.

“Just a second,” I said as looked for the other sales associate to call her over.

“I’ll just find it myself,” the woman said and she walked away toward the stacks of fabric. Exasperation wasn’t exactly the look on her face, but I had clearly failed her.

I explained the misunderstanding to the other sales associate who looked at me like I’d lost my mind.

“Seriously, she said ‘chia cava,’” I whispered to her. It wasn’t a very big fabric shop.

Fabric shop in Hilo, Hawaii

Fabric shop in Hilo, Hawaii. Not, unfortunately, the one I worked at.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My coworker walked over to the misunderstood and somewhat frustrated customer and started chatting with her. They ran their hands over the bolts of paisley’s, prints, stripes and solids. They took out a bolt or two and spread out the fabric a bit. There were hand gestures I couldn’t quite make out. I still had no clue what a chia cava was. They walked over to another section of the store and talked about some of that fabric.  And again, there was the touching of fabric, more pulling bolts and spreading it out across the top of the other bolts. There was some laughter. Then they walked over to another section and chatted some more.

I stayed busy restocking a few notions while I surreptitiously watched the two of them chat and talk about fabric. When the customer selected the fabric she wanted the two of them walked back to the cutting counter together. I found something to do in another section of the store. Embarrassed at my inability to understand or help, I made myself as scarce as possible.

After measuring the fabric, cutting it, bagging it and collecting the money, my coworker walked to the door with the customer, chatting comfortably. As the door opened they both looked back at me briefly and I hid my face again. I’m not certain but I’m pretty sure I heard chuckling. The customer left with a look of satisfaction clearly on her face.

I stepped out from my hiding place near the notions wall and lifted my hands and shrugged my shoulders to ask, “well?”

“Well, what?” my coworker laughed.

“What is a chia cava and what kind of fabric do you make it from?”

She pulled up a chair behind the counter and sat down.  “See this?” she said, leaning back in the chair and letting the front legs lift off the ground.

“What? The chair?” I said exasperated.

“Yes, the chia,” she replied, dropping the “R” in the word chair.

“A Chair?” I said hitting myself in the forehead with the palm of my hand. “But what’s a chair cava?” I asked, but as I said the two words together out loud I understood. “A chai cava is a chair cover?” I said emphasizing the “R” sound in each word.

English: Chair

“Yup, simple as that,” she said. “She wanted to recover a chair in some new fabric, and if it turns out well, she’ll be back for more fabric.”

I looked at her, stunned and sheepish.

My coworker laughed. “That customer thought you were the strangest, dumbest salesperson she’d ever encountered in her whole life.” She laughed again. “I told her you were really new to the job and didn’t even know how to run the cash register yet.”

Now it was my turn to laugh. I’d been working there for over two years. I thought it better for the customer to think I was silly and inexperienced than for her to feel awkward or embarrassed herself.

I’m sure she told her friends and her husband about the airheaded sales clerk who couldn’t understand simple English. Just as surely as I told my family about the customer who couldn’t make herself understood by a simple sales clerk in a fabric store.

Occasionally when one of my kids says something I can’t quite hear or understand, I’ll throw out the phrase, “you want a chia cava” and get a laugh out of them. Then they’ll repeat themselves very slowly as if I am hard of hearing and dimwitted, laughing at me the whole time.

At least they all get a laugh out of it.

I’m happy to be of service.

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Categories: Humor, People | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Dressing Down in the Dressing Room

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I recently found myself in a department store with a small hopeful stack of shirts and sweaters to try on. As I walked toward the dressing room I saw an unusual sight. The top of a man’s head poking above one of the dressing room stalls. Then I noticed a stroller poking out the bottom of the changing stall. “Must be a dad helping his daughter find something to wear,” I thought to myself.

My assumption turned out wrong. It wasn’t his daughter in there with him it was his wife and child.

How did I know this?

She proceeded to make it clear in no uncertain terms. Here is approximately what I unavoidably overheard:

“*#(%*@ size ____. I’ve never been this big in my life. Disgusting!!! How can you even stand to look at me?

You look fine, honey.

I look like a big, fat, stinking pig. Why are you still married to me?

Honestly, you look great to me. Who are you trying to impress anyway?

&)@*!!! *^ I am a fat stinking *&**!!!%@!# [insert most derogatory swear word you can think of] Do you hear me? You should be so disgusted and just leave me because I am a worthless *#&%@*!!

Another woman in another dressing stall piped up. Girlfriend, you’re a size smaller than me. You can’t look all that bad.

You want to come see. It’s disgusting. I’m a fat *#*%@.

At this point her husband tries to shush her as she’s now not only berating herself in the worst possible terms, but also making other people upset as well. They leave the changing room and thankfully I have no face to put to her words.

Here’s the thing.

If someone else called this woman the names she was calling herself, her husband would have certainly punched their lights out, demanded an apology and made sure they couldn’t walk for at least eight weeks. That’s what I hope MSH would do if someone treated me with such disdain and disrespect.

But it was a woman berating herself publicly. Okay, semi-publicly.

Here’s the other thing.

I’ve thought very similar thoughts. I’ve gotten angry at what I’ve seen in the dressing room mirror. I’ve sworn off shopping for clothes at times because I can’t find anything that I feel presentable in. I’ve left stores hating myself for what my body looks and feels like.

And my size, that number we all give so much power to, runs significantly higher than the number that angry woman was so disgusted about.

I admired the intervening voice, the other woman trying to serve as a voice of reason and solidarity. I thought about saying something, but having felt similar feelings, knew it was impossible at that point to comfort, soothe or repair anything.

Maybe she’d not slept enough, maybe her baby in the stroller had kept her awake night lately. Maybe she’s still recovering from growing, laboring and birthing a child. Maybe she missed lunch or was dehydrated. Maybe she was just having a bad day anyway and the dressing room fiasco was the last straw.

Whatever the reason my heart hurt for her. And for thousands of us who let the mirror determine how we feel and what our worth is.

Is there a way to stop looking in the mirror and being so critical? Is there a way to stop caring so much about the book cover and be more concerned with the quality of the words and sentences and story?

I wish there were an easy answer. But I know there isn’t.

Categories: People, self-image, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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