Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Camouflage Should Not Exist

So, here I am. It's been a while. I appologize for my absence. You know how it goes; so many things, so little time....and so on.

I write to tell of a sad story in Tuxedo Land. Let me just say two words; PROM SEASON.

Prom season is, contrary to popular belief, not a happy time for the consultants in the tuxedo department. First of all, you're working with high school aged boys. Secondly, they have no idea what to pick out, let alone what a tuxedo is. Thirdly, they say if we don't pick out the right color their prom date will murder them. All of these conditions put together result in hell breaking loose....lovely.

This story is about one boy in particular who came in with his prom date to select styles. The pair of kids are looking through the books and discussing when I come over to help them out. The boy proceeds to tell me that he wants a white tuxedo for his senior prom. Now, this does not surprise me due to the traditional theme of senior proms. Usually the guys wear white to go out with a bang. Who am I to judge?

He then points out to me the vest and tie he wanted to wear which is our camouflage (called mossy oak!) collection in a "winter white" color. I hesitated and questioned him, "Are you sure you want to rent the winter white camouflage vest and tie with your all white tuxedo??"

"Yeah! I think that'd be wicked sweet, ya know?" trying to get a reaction out of his date, who looked like she was just forced to walk the plank.

"Umm, not really. I don't think that the combination would look very nice. What do you think about THIS pattern?" trying to be diplomatic and gave him another option.

But he wasn't having it. He was dead set on the camouflage. Just then, his date piped in and suggested that he at least should rent a red tie to match her dress. He thought about it and came around to the idea. So they flipped through the book for a couple more minutes and selected a black and red striped tie. At this point, I was just going to let them do whatever they wanted since he wouldn't listen to my advise anyway. Here is a list of his final selection:

1. White 2 Button jacket with matching pants
2. White Laydown collar shirt
3. Winter white camouflage vest
4. Black and red striped long tie

Easily the ugliest, sadest looking tuxedo I've ever seen. I felt utterly ashamed of myself for letting him walk out with these choices. There was nothing I could do to stop the madness. Nothing.....Sorry to say, his prom is this weekend and he'll be taking pictures in that ensemble that will last forever. Hopefully he'll be able to look back and laugh at himself instead of cry.

Until next time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Siegfried and Roy

This year for Halloween, my boss decided it would be a good idea to dress up with two of his buddies (Siegfried and Roy) and himself as the white tiger. Funny, right? Yeah, well he told his friends that they could come into the shop and I'd set them up with free rental pants for their costumes. They came, they picked up their pants, we laughed, we joked, and off they went.

Halloween weekend came and went. Good times were had by all (including everyone who came to my killer Quentin Tarantino Party-that's right, it was wicked).

Now, typically we require rentals to be returned the Monday following the event. One of the guys, I think it was Siegfried, returned on time and all was well. I expected Roy to show up late on Tuesday, but in fact he failed to come in for the next 4 days! My boss called me that Friday and asked if he had returned yet. When I told him he hadn't, he got frustrated saying, "I told him to return everything now about 5 times!" So we came up with a plan...

My boss told me that he was going to tell Roy that I was really upset about him not returning, and that I was going to charge him a pretty hefty late fee for the inconvenience. In reality, I could care less since he was my boss' good friend and he rented for free. So when he inevitably comes in, I would have to cop an attitude with him instead and act real angry. I was all for it. For some reason I always get myself caught up in practicle jokes.... I'm not complaining.

Saturday was the fateful day I expected him to come in. He finally showed his face around 3:00pm and immediately said, " do I owe you?"

Trying to keep my composure, I said, "So you finally decided to return...It's about time."

"Yeah, sorry I didn't think it would be a big deal, ya know..."

"Well it is actually. The company is charging us an astronomical late fee because you 'didn't think it was a big deal'. I've decided to give you a little break but I can't do much. The total cost will be $80.00 even."

He looks at me with the best, most terrified look and said, "Really? I had no idea..." As he reached for his wallet, I couldn't hold it in any longer. Watching me crack up laughing, he suddenly looked relieved and pissed at the same time. "So you're joking? Ok, where's John (my boss)? I want to pound him for giving me such a hard time!"

"I'm sorry! (Hahahaha) He told me to do it! (Heehehehe) He's in his office now, if you want to see him.."

"Ha! Yeah, maybe I will.....So I don't have to pay a late fee?"

"No! It was all a joke," I said, trying to make him feel better.

Moral of the story, return your tuxedo on time, and no harm (including practical jokes) will befall you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Kohler

Instead of telling tales of the customers that come into the shop, let us wander to the lives of the employees, specifically to one. Let's call her Maggie Kohler. Maggie is a die hard. She has been working at the shop for a little over 15 years and just recently put in her two weeks notice. She said to me one day, "It's my time, honey. I'm getting to old for this..."

Maggie is a very interesting old soul who sells dresses (specifically for mother of the brides). If I could describe her in a matter of words, I would say she's about a 60 year old, eccentric, fashion loving, biker chic who has also adopted the name The Kohler. She has the tendency of calling everyone "Honey" and whenever The Kohler does something funny or talks to customers at all, we all grin and say, "Well, that's the Kohler for you..."

For instance, one busy Saturday morning, The Kohler was leading a group up to the bridal department, which passes tuxedos so I could hear her commentary. The bride, thinking she would be friendly, started conversation by saying, "It's a beautiful day, isn't it?"

"Well honey, I've been inside all day, I guess I wouldn't know..."

"Oh..Umm...So...How long have you been working here?" She asked hesitantly.

"Oh Honey, I've been working here so long, I'm like one of the fixtures."

That wonderful piece of conversation was all I had the pleasure of hearing. Oh The Kohler just brings a sense of realism to customer service which seems to have disappeared over the years....sometimes I wish I could be more like her.

In short, this post is dedicated to The Kohler. I'm really going to miss her blunt comments, and tell-it-how-it-is mentality. She always liked the tuxedo department because we appreciated her funny quirks and sarcastic humor. She liked us so much that she even brought huge bags of her old shoes, purses and jewelry when we learned that she was leaving. She said that we could have what we wanted cause "it's too much stuff for an ol' lady to have." Although I'm pretty sure half the stuff was somehow stolen or on the black market at some point, I appreciated the sentiment. She even gave Lucy a pair of her most prized black, leather, Harley boots. She was touched. We were all touched. We will miss The Kohler and wish her well. Here's to you Honey.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Poor Lucy

One of my co workers, Lucy (the main character in one of my previous blogs and most likely will be again), unfortunately is a magnet for awkward or strange conversations. She is seriously the sweetest person and has wonderful customer service so I'm not quite sure of the reasoning behind her being targeted. Perhaps these specific customers feel more vulnerable around her or feel the need to say exactly what their thinking at all times...which is not always a good thing.

On this particular day, a bride came into the shop to pick out tuxedos and Lucy (being the wonderful person that she is) immediately asked her if she needed help or had any questions. Lucy continued to work with this bride answering her questions and giving advice, when the conversation naturally went to the direction of the bride's wedding dress. She was describing the dress to Lucy to get her opinion on what tuxes would look best, so Lucy asked, "Do you have a picture of it?"

"Yes! In my purse it is." Opening the folded picture of her gown so Lucy could see it.

"Oh! It's beautiful! I love your dress! If I had to buy a dress, I would totally get something like that!" Said Lucy, sincerely.

"Hmm. Someday........Someday......" Said the bride, patting Lucy on the back.

Lucy took that as, "Yeah.......if you're lucky.......chump."

Poor Lucy. She was just trying to be nice and helpful. Until next time, when Lucy get herself into another awkward situation....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Practical Jokes Do Not Belong In Weddings...

A couple weeks ago, a groomsman (let's call him Joe) came into the shop to pick up his tuxedo for his buddy's wedding that weekend. Joe was meeting his friend (Sam) there but Sam was running behind so he took the opportunity and started conversation with the one of our tuxedo consultants. While talking, Joe came up with the brilliant idea of playing a practical joke on Sam when he came in. All the girls in the department were loving the idea as long as it was appropriate. What's the harm anyway?

Now, Sam was coming into the store to pick up a replacement coat from trying on his tux the day before so we were going to give him a coat that was obviously too small for him and say that this is what the company sent for him so, "There's nothing we can do...sorry." The plan went off without a hitch and Sam was dumbfounded when he stood there as a "Fat guy in a little coat!" That's when Joe came out of his dressing room roaring with laughter and we set everything right. It made for a great story....if only it ended there.

In the focused preparation of setting up the joke on Sam, I (yes, it was all my fault) accidently gave Joe the wrong tuxedo and he left the shop with someone else's tux from the same wedding party! Oops. My bad. I tried calling Joe right away but got an answering machine for his home phone so I called Sam and explained the situation. He laughed about it and thought it would be no big deal. He would just call Joe and have him swing back around to exchange for the correct tuxedo. Great! We hung up and all was right with the world.

A couple minutes later Sam called the shop to tell me that Joe didn't believe him! Joe thought that this was Sam taking revenge and playing a joke on him so he wouldn't have it. Now desperate, I ask for Joe's cell phone number so I can call him myself. I called and had to leave a long, annoying message about everything so shortly after that we got a phone call from Joe. It honestly took about 10 minutes of convincing for him to believe that I wasn't pulling a practical joke! Finally he gave in and we came up with a plan. Due to the fact that Joe had the wrong tux (John's tux), John was going to pick up Joe's tux and they would do a swap at the wedding. Even that would make for a good story....but it's not over yet.

When John came in to pick up Joe's tux, he was pretty upset about the whole situation (not really the practical joke type) so, of course, I apologized for the inconvenience and had to send him on his way regardless. About an hour later, I received a call from the extremely angry bride of that wedding party, blaming me for all the confusion. At first, she was furious about it but after I explained that all of this mess started out as a practical joke played by one of her groomsmen, she just about laughed it off saying phrases such as, "how typical" and "Oh! Those boys. What am I going to do with them?". In the end, everything was right as rain and fine in the world but If you're planning on pulling some stunt, avoid weddings!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nice Attempt...

One of the things I love about my job is that I get to dress up a little. I like being able to look nice and professional in a cute pencil skirt or sassy heels. Sometimes it can be a bit tedious having to come up with a potentially great outfit everyday, but for the most part it's considered a good side to our job for us girls in the department.

A couple weeks ago my co-worker (let's call her Lucy) came into work wearing the cutest set of black, diamond patterned tights under a charcoal gray pencil skirt. From a female's perspective, they complimanted her outfit so well and were hard to miss because they were just so darn cute so, of course, I said something to the effect of, "Oh Lucy! Your tights are so cute! Where did you get them?...." Due to the fact that this particular wedding shop is staffed with mainly just females, every person that walked by commented or said something with the word "cute" in the sentence.

A few hours later, after many "cute" comments from everyone in the shop, a lone man comes walking into the tux department and mutters something about needing to get measured. Since I was deeply trenched in a project, crunching numbers....that sort of thing, Lucy stepped in to help him. Once she got all the info she needed she began the measuring process mostly in polite silence. Coming to the end, she turned to find the correct size coat for him and suddenly he said, "Wow. Those are some pretty fancy tights there..."

I froze at my desk extremely amused, wondering what Lucy would say.

"Ummm....thanks." She responded hesitantly, not knowing exactly if that was a compliment or not. So she put her thoughts into the sweetest words possible asking, "Im sorry....was that supposed to be a compliment?"

"Oh! yeah!.....I....Sorry....I didn't make that more clear.....I.....Uhh..." Was all he could muster to say, his face getting more red by the second.

"Oh. Thanks! No problem, just making sure..." She swiftly recovered finishing with his coat size.

By this time she could see my shoulders shaking from silent laughter. It was so obvious that he was trying to pay her a compliment but he failed miserably at being smooth. I just felt so bad for the guy because I know I can make situaitons pretty awkward sometimes unintentionally, but he just scored an eight out of ten in my book. For a man to compliment a woman on her outfit is one thing but specifically her tights? And in so many words? Exhibit A: the difference between men and women.

By the time the measuring was done, he had attempted to lighten the mood by cracking some joke about his ever growing waist measurement and the fact that it was great that the pants would be adjustable, which probably made the situation worse in the end. Lucy was of course gracious and continued to give great customer service until he rounded the corner to leave. She looked at my expecting face for a moment, making sure he left the building, before we both burst out laughing. I felt bad for the guy in the end because he was just trying to say something nice....I guess you just had to be there.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Case Study #1: Wedding Shop Overload

One thing you have to know about the shop where I work is that it's predominately wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses being sold. The tuxedo department is tucked away in the back of the shop and one would have to be directed there specifically in order to see us. I'm not saying that we don't do a lot of business because we actually do. On an average summer or early fall weekend, when wedding season is at its peak, we rent about 400 tuxes! (just tootin' our horn a little)
Anyway, when a guy comes in to get measured he's immediately hit with a sight of many, excited, chatty women hearing a chorus of, "my dress has lace organza with beading at the top.....the bridesmaids are wearing a tea length, watermelon, chiffon dress with a cute little sash......I had to order a size 8 because my bust wouldn't fit into a 6.......Sarah, I'm so glad you could make it!" The poor guy is then contemplating whether or not it would be worth it to tell the groom he can't be a groomsmen anymore due to his high blood pressure. He then walks gingerly into the shop and is confused when he can't see or identify a single male! The front desk girls see that he's looking a bit puppyish so they direct him to "Formal Wear". Once he passes the poofy wedding gowns on his left and pushes past the blindingly neon prom dresses on his right, he finally comes to the tuxedo department. By this time he's looking completely and utterly devastaded and has a helpless, "why do you torture me?" look on his face so I try my best to snap him back to reality.

"Hey! How's it going?" Trying to be a friendly as possible.

"Umm.....good. I ah.....I think I need to get fitted..."

"Great! Come on back. When is the wedding?"

"Umm....Johnson and Carlson?" he says, obviously still confused about where and who he is.

"Ah, ok. And when is the wedding?" trying not to make it obvious that he didn't answer my question.

"Oh! Umm...sometime in Novemeber. Not sure exactly. So many weddings this year. It's hard to keep track of them", he says trying to recover.

"No problem. I'll look it up for you." So I continue to do my job, give him the correct information, take his measurements, and send him on his way looking slightly more in tune with reality. I have worked in this department for long enough to know that when a random man is seen in the store with a dejected look about him, I try my best to help the poor guy out. It truely must be awful to be put in that kind of a situation where answering simple questions has now become the hardest thing to do. It would be like me going to a coutry club, needing to buy golf clubs, wearing a hoodie and jeans, knowing absolutely nothing about the sport, and feeling so uncomfortable. I wouldn't know how to act and I definitely wouldn't know what to say. So here's a shout out to all the groomsmen and ushers who have to go into bridal shops to get measured for tuxedos. I feel your pain.