No, it wasn’t like The Devil Wears Prada, and it certainly wasn’t like that horribly unrealistic ABC Family show “Jane by Design.”
I spent my summer working at a JC Penney store as a leadership intern, but that’s just a fancy name for “management intern.” Though (as of now) I don’t think I want to pursue a lifelong career in retail, I did learn a lot this summer and will be able to apply that knowledge to my future jobs. I dabbled in visual merchandising, doing sets, interviewing, management, and much more.
The thing about retail that makes it so interesting to me, is that anything can happen- customers, as well as some employees are crazy. There’s never a dull moment.
Here’s a list of events and quotes (good and bad) that happened while I was working this summer:
-I was a Baylor bear in Razorback Country…that certainly wasn’t good timing for me. I had just arrived when Baylor was playing Arkansas for the college world series spot. There was quite a bit of harrassment and my face turned as red as Razorback stadium on gamedays.
-One of the most memorable times was when I was closing the store and was told by an associate to come quickly to the womens fitting room. To my dismay, a customer had peed all in the fitting room and the clothes were sopping wet. Our maintenance team had already gone home for the night, so I had to clean it up- all three large bags full of urinated clothing. There’s no picture of this for obvious reasons…
-I never thought of JCP as a crazy place, but you’d be surprised by the number of kids on leashes that I saw this summer.
-It was only the beginning of my second week, and I already had received nicknames…some of them included: Barbie, Baylor, Miss baylor, Miss thang, Diva, Texas, Miss Texas
-JCP is undergoing construction for their new look. It’s really great, but one night a construction worker pulled an associate into the construction room alone…let’s just say my supervisor was not very happy.
-The meanest customer I ever had was a lady I wasn’t even being rude to. She was very illogical about the way she wanted things rung up, so it took more time than usual. Long story short, she told me that “she knew people who were sick, and I needed medicine and could borrow some of her Prozac.”
-I had a Russian family come in and try to barter with me and finagle prices…I had to kindly explain that prices were fixed and giving me a piece of chocolate wouldn’t change my mind. Or would it?;)
-Before working here, I never realized how many people actually steal. Just in these two short months, I’ve witnessed people running about and even getting taken out of the store in handcuffs. Besides the fact that it’s wrong, it just isn’t worth it to me to steal a $25 sweater…
-When ringing up a lady because she wanted to pay her credit card bill, her card she was going to pay it with wasn’t working. I told her she should try a different card or a different register and moved onto the next customer. She then proceeded to yell at me as she rode up the escalator in front of the long line waiting at the register. Awkward much?
-JCP has a cockroach problem; I’m not even going to lie. There’s not a lot, but enough to make me grossed out. One day there was one on the sales floor, so I decided to kill it. As I bent over, I succeeded in killing the cockroach, but I also managed to rip the kick pleat out of my skirt and had to do a shoddy mend job to make sure I wasn’t bearing any extra skin.
-There’s a customer who comes in and always causes a scene- one time she even had to be escorted out by mall security. I didn’t know this at the time, so I offered to help her. Let’s just say the conversation ended with tears in my office; I avoid her if all possible when she comes in.
-The associates know I’m from Texas, so they like to ask me questions about it. One guy asked me if I listend to UGK. When I replied “what??” he got his answer. When he was taken aback because I didn’t, I said “Do I look like I listen to hardcore rap?” You can never get better than Get Low, Yeah, Ignition, and This is how we do it. They will forever be my favorites.
-A group of teenage boys came into our store and immediantly started playing with the escalators and making the buzzer go off. I could never say anything to them because I never caught them in the act. I finally did catch them, and that was that! I chased them down the escalator and they immediantly began to run. Without thinking, I yelled “you BETTER run!” Oops. I forgot my manners.
-The most memorable thing a co-worker said to me was right after I had just shared baked goods with him. He asked me if I was bloated because I looked bloated. I said “excuse me?” trying to give him another chance and HE ASKED ME IF I WAS BLOATED AGAIN. Who says that? Needless to say, he didn’t receive any baked goods from me ever again.
-I wear headbands like a hippy around my head and one customer (who clearly had no fashion sense told me) I was dating myself. I just smiled. In my head, I thought (actually you’re dating yourself because you just said you wore them when you were young.
-upon finding out I was leaving soon, one co-worker said “Oh, I’m going to miss seeing your beautiful har everyday…” What? Won’t I be missed as a person? haha.
-One of my favorite customer memories was with an older gentlemen who I helped. When he left, he said “That’s a cute get-up you have one; you’re a nice looking lady” Of course, that morning, one of my managers told me I “looked damn cute.” It was a good day to say the least.
Sure, more things happened this summer, but there’s some of the best and worst moments. I had a blast and pocketed lots of experiences that I’ll take with me. I may not have gotten a tan this summer, but it was an awesome internship. I know, I know. You’re thinking “Lauren…you’re a ginger. You wouldn’t have gotten a tan even if you weren’t in an office all the time!” Anyway, who know’s where I’ll be working after I graduate in December?