Tuesday, February 15, 2011

365 Jobs, Day 46: Price Tags

Cross-posted from my new blog, 365 Jobs:

Wednesday, February 15, 1984

It's a tony strip of shops in downtown Saratoga.  Parked at the meters are Jaguar, Bentley, Mercedes—and my truck.  I'm installing cabinets in an Italian designer clothing store .  For most of the job I'm alone with the saleswoman, whose name is Marzia. In four and a half hours, exactly three customers enter the shop.  The first is a woman who examines a skirt and then asks, "Why aren't there any price tags?"

"Just ask," Marzia says.

"Okay, how much is this skirt?"

"Eight hundred and twenty dollars."

The woman walks out.

About two hours later, a man and woman enter together.  The man is pasty, overweight, and is wearing short pants that reveal half of his hairy thighs.  The woman is skinny, braless, slightly awkward like a teenager. 

Marzia greets them.  She seems to know the man.

Tentatively, the young woman holds up a blouse.  The man shakes his head.

Marzia suggests another blouse.  The man shakes his head.

He rejects every piece of clothing suggested by either Marzia or his nervous companion.  Not once does he ask about the price.  Finally he grabs a short skirt and a very thin top.  "These," he says.

The young woman stares at the floor.  "All right," she says.

Marzia rings them up.  Nine hundred and ninety dollars.

The couple leaves, the woman clinging to the man's arm.  Neither one of them looks remotely happy.

When they are gone I say, "I'm afraid to ask if that was his daughter."

Marzia sighs.  "He comes here about once a week.  Different women."  She shakes her head.  "That wasn't shopping.  That was foreplay."  She frowns.  "And what comes after won't be fun."

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