Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Scarred and Stacked Neatly

My name is Caitlin, and I’m a former Gap, Inc. employee. For two fulls years and two extra summers, I wore a headset, a frumpy, fire engine red T-shirt emblazoned with OLD NAVY and discovered the horrors of retail.

Aside from the finagling penny-pinchers, the unruly kids and the occasional sociopath who frequented the store, the greatest horror of all was The Truck.

If you frequented an Old Navy between the late 90s and early 2000s (and, appallingly, even at some stores now), you are acquainted with The Truck. That hulking blue monstrosity with the glazed-eyed prop dog gathering dust in its stripped cab. Yeah, that one.

Where customers saw the infamous Flag Tees or the latest round of knock-off men’s “vintage” tees (Gettin’ Lucky in Kentucky, people.), we employees saw the tenth circle of Hell.

At least one person dedicated their entire eight-hour shift to the tumbling piles of once-neatly-folded shirts that surrounded The Truck. The delicate balance never held. After an employee defensively guarded their orderly stacks of shirts, perhaps leaving their post for only a fifteen minute soda break in the back, the customers (and their children) would come in hordes to The Truck.

The questions would follow:

Where did The Truck come from? How much would we take for it? Where could they find one? Could their son just climb in the cab for a picture? It wouldn’t take but a minute and the camera’s all charged and ready to go, so please?

We’d watch, devastated, as the piles would come crashing down. At 9:05, the folding table was retrieved from the back, rolled to The Truck and the toil began again. Left corner sleeve to middle third. Right corner sleeve to middle third. Lower hem folded one third up. Bottom folded refolded to shoulder. Stack. Repeat.

In the hours I spent at The Truck, I never thought The Wall Street Journal might dedicate an article to the art I learned there. It turns out that I’m not the only scarred Gap, Inc. employee out there.

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