The more things change

I’m sitting here trying to attend an all-day financial conference. (It’s not going well. I don’t multitask too well and there are many tasks to “multi.”)

I wanted to tee-hee a minute about a talk I had with a friend the other day. He was saying how he worked at Polo, and I was recalling my days at the flagship Kaufmann’s store.

I sold Donna Karan. (I happened to be wearing DKNY on the day we had this discussion.) Calvin Klein, Jones New York, Dana Buchman and Ellen Tracy were also sold in my department. So I have an appreciation for these labels.

But my story is that I was the only person not on commission, yet I often had the highest sales.

If retail paid more, I’d probably still be doing it on the weekends at least. But I don’t do well with people on commission — they would return my sales and re-ring them up so they’d get the credit. It was pretty awful, working with those women.

But … customers loved me. Like, “came in on Sundays when I was working by myself” loved me. Because I would help them and not shame them if they didn’t like something. I wouldn’t lie and say they looked great if maybe a different size, color or style would have been better. I wouldn’t cut a bitch to steal the sale out from under the one who had made 30 trips to the dressing room with more merchandise. (Which I as the kid would have to hang up and restock.)

I was about 22 years old, give or take. (I was there for a few years.) Wore my Lerner New York and Gap and Old Navy clearance-rack clothes. I looked like I was 12 years old most days. But I was energetic and kept my clothes steamed and worked way too hard for my (then-amazing) $5/hour.

It was then that I learned I loved being around wealthy people. Different problems, for sure. But never fretting about how to spend that last dime in a way they wouldn’t regret. Like I did every single day. And, to some extent, still do.

My friend said isn’t it funny how nothing has changed — I work lots of hours, I am available when you can’t find anyone else for miles, and I quietly produce a lot while no one is looking.

Good friend, and good memory.

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