Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Red Bull, Eddie Bauer and a Dream

I was driving home tonight (yes, I woke up too late to take the MAX again!) when I spied a Mini Cooper on the road behind me. This wasn't just any Mini Cooper, this one was Red Bull's Mini Cooper. The only reason I knew that was because it had "RED BULL!" blazoned in red on its sides with diagonal blue and silver stripes to make it even less conspicuous. Just to be sure there wasn't any question that this was not your everyday Mini Cooper, this one had an ENORMOUS CAN OF RED BULL on the top! Seriously? Is the "Red Bull Gives You Wings" campaign not enough? Do you have to recruit more trampy little girls to drink Red Bull and vodkas out at the bars every night? I felt so bad for the guy driving that had I not been on the freeway I would have rolled down my window thrown my business card at him and encouraged him to apply ... or call me (only if he was super cute and promised not to pick me up in that monstrosity of course).

But I was on the freeway ... so alas, my thoughts reverted back to me and my own string of shitty jobs. I could count my shitty jobs on one hand ... even if I only had three fingers (which I don't, I have five ... on each hand, just in case you were wondering). But the all time shittiest was working for Eddie Bauer. I didn't even work in the stores! I worked at their call center and had to ... I cringe even typing it ... wear a Bobby Brown headset and take catalog orders from Eddie Bauer, Newport News and Seigel's catalogs. You haven't lived until you've been asked if someone can get a cash advance off her Newport News card.

Khaki, loafer and seersucker fans don't despair, it wasn't the company itself. I was working two jobs trying to get ahead a bit and was so exhausted that I could have been working as a writer in Paris and still would have hated it. Well that, and the manager (gasp!) DIDN'T LIKE ME. For the limited amount of jobs I had, everyone ALWAYS liked me--bosses, customers, co-workers, everyone--except the team leader at Eddie Bauer, who criticized the length of time I spent on the phone (what about customer service?!), chastised me for sending an order to a customer's sister (but they lived at the same house!) and looked down her nose at my "upsells" (but those shoes are UGLY, I can't in good faith offer them to someone!). I suffered through, every night from 6 - 11 p.m. five nights a week through the summer until finally I just couldn't take it--the long days, the commute home, the upselling and the perverts. Yes, you read that right. The perverts.

No, EB does not have perverts that work for them ... that I could have handled, and at that time in my life probably would have welcomed. EB just had high school and college kids who called me "B" and rolled so deep in their chairs that Team Lead Beeeyooootch would have to come by and tell them to sit up straight and of course throw a little "Upsell!" at me on her way back to her hole, I mean desk. EB has perverts that REPEATEDLY call in to the center and raise hell with the pious little telephone operators who are just trying to make a few extra bucks. We got warned about these guys (and gals!) in training, which of course I didn't believe for a minute. Surely they had to be mistaken. Victoria's Secret or Fredricks we were not. Who could possibly get fired up over cotton pique floor length dresses and oxford shirts? So you can imagine my surprise when I got my first call--I promptly freaked out, hung up and shook violently before laughing hysterically. After a few months of no sleep, bordering on the verge of depression and a nervous breakdown, I started to wonder about them all and would chat with them ... under the guise of "upselling" of course, I had to get those numbers up!

1) The Shoe Guy - I picture the shoe guy as a cross dresser that lived somewhere in middle America and his only outlet was to dress up in a women's jean jacket, put on some lipstick and call Eddie Bauer to talk about shoes with his girlfriends. He sounded a little bit like the freaky guy in Silence of the Lambs (you know the one "It puts the lotion in the basket.") and would ask if we sold Candi's sling backs. Our conversations went like this:

Shoe Guy: "Uh, hiiiii. Do you have Candi's sling backs?"
B: Does Candi's make slingbacks?
Shoe Guy: Yesssss, they're fabulous. They have a black patent leather upper and a wood sole? You've never seen them?
B: No! But I bet they're adorable. We don't have any though. Can I offer you a nice loafer?
Shoe Guy: No ... you sound nice.
B: Thanks! How about a fleece pullover?
Shoe Guy: No ... have you ever heard of Bath and Body Works cucumber melon body lotion?
B: I have, if you like that you'd probably LOVE our pleated jeans.
Shoe Guy: I bet you're from California ... you have lovely feet, don't you? You get pedicures, don't you?
B: I do!
Shoe Guy: I thought so.
B: Ok, well sorry about the sling backs but good luck finding them, take care!

Inevitably a few minutes later the message boards would be blazing "Shoe Guy calling in!! BEWARE!!! Shoe Guy is out!!!! LOOK OUT!!!" I never told on you though, Shoe Guy. I was from California ... and I do get pedicures and you never creeped me out like the "Khaki Girl."

2) Khaki Girl - Ok, I'm going to stereotype, I don't think of women as pervs. Certainly not youngish sounding women and certainly not women who wear khakis?

Khaki Girl: Um hi, can I return pants after I bought them?
B: You can. But if you don't like those pants can I offer you a nice rugby shirt?
Khaki Girl? I can? Return my pants?
B: You can! So what do you say about that rugby shirt?
Khaki Girl: But what if I've worn them already?
B: No problem! Just bring them into a store and they'll refund your money. If you don't like the idea of a rugby shirt, what about a down vest?
Khaki Girl: So if I've worn them, you'll take them back?
B: Yeah (starting to get suspicious). Down parka perhaps? It will be cold soon.
Khaki Girl: Well, do you wash them?
B: (What the f ... ) Well, ... I don't, but I'm sure someone does. Hello? Lovely down parka for sale! Northwest winter ... chilly ... cold ... brrr.
Khaki Girl: So I might have tried on some pants that someone else has worn?
B: (Ewww!) Ummmm ...
Khaki Girl: So my ...
B: Click.

Calls are funny like that sometimes, they just ... drop. Poor khaki girl ... I never could think up a personna for her, I was too weirded out. And I'd still recognize your voice khaki girl ... and yes, that WAS me hanging up on you after I heard your pervy little voice asking if you could return pants. Then again ... if anyone ever got hung up on by a rep at Eddie Bauer in the late 90's when asking about their return policy, I'd like to apologize on behalf of the company.

And last but not least ... there was Mr. Short Black Skirt who by the time he rolled around I was so jaded and my finger so calloused from hanging up on Khaki Girl, nothing could shock me. You still hold the title as the only Eddie Bauer customer whoever hung up on me!

SBS: Helloooo, do you guys sell short (pause), black (pause) skirts?
B: Nope.
SBS: Are you suuuuuurrrrre? I'm ... looking ... for a ... short ... black ... skirt.
B: Sorry ... we don't have any and certainly not any for men.
SBS: (Sighs) Ok, well do you sell skirts?
B: We do! Will this be a gift?
SBS: Okay (obviously irritated) what kind of skirts do you sell?
B: Denim and khaki.
SBS: Oh ...
B: Not what you were looking for?
SBS: No, I'm looking for ... short ... black ...
B: Yeah, we don't have those, just the denim and the khaki.
SBS: (Hopeful) Well how short are they?
B: Long ... veeeerrrry long
SBS: If you were to sit down, how far do they ride up?
B: (Trying not to hurl) To your ankle.
SBS: (Sigh) You guys don't have ANY short skirts?
B: Here let me look (rustle the catalog for a good 60 seconds). Nope, sorry. Do you want to hear about our limited edition boat shoes?
SBS: Click.

So to those of you who currently have shitty jobs ... take heart, you won't have them forever. I wish for you normal cars to drive, phones free of pervs and a lexicon that doesn't include the word "upsell." Dream big!