COLUMN: Working at Abercrombie lacks individualism

When my brother was in high school, he wasn't pretty.

He had little glasses, shaggy long hair down to his chin, oversized-ragged jeans that he wore with his beautiful underwear hanging out, and he walked like Igor because the crotch of his pants was down at his knees.

Yup, my brother was the pimp. After high school, he went to college, made the dean's list and by the time he was done with his degree, only Polo could touch his body.

So, let's get this straight. In high school, my brother wore pants with a 38-inch waist. He started lifting weights in college and bulked up a little (which includes gaining a little weight), and now he wears a 32 inch waist.

Now, he is a manager at Abercrombie and Fitch. Which leads me to my next point. Since he's manager, I was lucky enough to get a job with him over the winter break.

After refusing to wear their clothes for so long, I broke down.

I'm a traitor to nonconformity, I know, but I needed the job and I had a connection -- it literally fell in my lap, along with a pair of jeans and two shirts.

I am now an employee of Abercrombie and Fitch, the store where the hottest of the hot go and buy clothes that are sizes too small for them.

To work there, clothes must be bought-to-fit so we can show off the latest styles, strut our stuff, flip back our hair and smile wicked, sexy smiles to everyone we look at, especially when we're bending over to pick something up off the floor.

The problem with being new at a store like this is, well, when the employees have to dress with the latest fashions, and the people shopping in the store wear the latest fashions, it's hard to keep track of who's working and who's shopping.

We don't get those cool shirts like Old Navy that say "staff."

While folding shirts, one of my co-workers asked if he could help me find anything.

"Uhh," I said. I wasn't sure what to tell him, because apparently he had the same problem I did. "No, I'm doing alright," I told him and walked away with a pile of shirts and continued to fold at another table.

I finally realized who worked at the store that Friday when the same people were in the store with me for five hours.

Then after I got bored folding shambled piles of shirts, I decided to work the changing room and stand and herd preteen girls in and out of the dressing room with hoochie clothes.

Before I worked, I had to read the employee handbook. It said that Abercrombie liked to see individuality in their employees when it came to grooming, as long as it stayed steadfast to the look of Abercrombie.

Individuality? I've never worked at a place where you couldn't tell the difference between the customers or the employers.

Standing my ground by the dressing rooms during the Friday after Thanksgiving shopping apocalypse, the district manager apparently came into the store for a little chat-chat about numbers and saw my non-traditional hair.

So much for individuality, I had to wear a hat over my dyed red hair.

But at least the techno music thumping in the background, foreground, inner ear and inside my chest has a good beat, especially when it breaks 120,000 decibels.

Write to Evan at emann@mr-potatohead.com


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