Victoria’s C-Face

by janet on September 7th, 2006

Waaay back in 2001, I worked at a certain lingerie store that offers bras and panties that are consumed ravenously by the masses (I’ll call it VCF). Ever since then, I have been dying to write an expose about my time spent dwelling in the evil twat of VCF, and only now, five full years later, have I gotten around to actually doing it. Plus James is giving me some space on his blog and I’d like to blog about something he never, ever would.

Fake and bitchy, bitchy and fake. That is the VCF mentality. They are evil and mean but cover it with a thin veneer of super fake sorority “we LOVE each other” bullshit. Yeck. This is coming from a gal who has a really high threshold for fake loveyness so believe me when I say this. I’m sure you’re not surprised that bitchy and fake would be associated with VCF, as I’m sure you’ve experienced their super aggressive saleswoman/salesgayman tactics (more on this later).

THE INTERVIEW

For the interview, I dressed VCF-appropriate in a black suit with a cleavagey pink lace cami underneath. I shook hands with the manager, who had fake red hair and was one of those Latina chicks who outlines their lips in black eyeliner. Accordingly, I’ll call her Consuela. She said, “Follow me” and took me downstairs to Rampage, and told me to pretend I was looking for a skirt. I was way ahead of Consuela and anticipated that I would have to discuss how shitty Rampage’s customer service was, so I deliberately didn’t make eye contact with any of the employees, and shuffled away when I spotted one coming towards me. I headed for the messiest rack in the store and made huffy noises because the sizes were all out of order. After giving this performance, we went to the food court and discussed my “customer service” experience. I said I was “disappointed” and talked about how the racks were a mess and it was sooo hard to find my size, and this difficulty was compounded by the fact that no one even approached me to help! Consuela nodded approvingly, and I leaned in for the kill: “And to top it off, did you SEE the sales associate who was wearing clogs? I mean, this isn’t 1994!” Thrilled trills of laughter from Consuela, and I knew I was in. See? Even starting with the interview, VCF loves a bitchy bout of bitching. Bitchy + Fake = Success at VCF.

HOW TO GET HOURS

My first week, I was scheduled for a whopping 4 hours of work. WTF? This would not even cover my spicy chicken Yoshinoya bowls (all I could afford to eat at the time) for the week, let alone help with rent. My only VCF friend, a cute hapa girl (who I’ll call “Carissa”) said, “Oh, they won’t give you hours unless you’re a top seller.” Frustration! I was reminded of the paradox of credit history – you need to have a credit card to build credit history, but no one will give you a card because you don’t have enough credit history. Speaking of credit cards, the kicker was that by “top seller,” Carissa didn’t really mean bra and panty seller. She meant credit card opener. Credit cards are the lifeblood of VCF, since it creates customer loyalty AND they rake in tons of dough on late fees and interest. This is because all VCF clientele, whether naive blonde college student or trashed-out blonde housewife, tend to be financially stupid and max out their cards constantly (take note of this as it will turn into a useful tip in three sentences). This is why VCF employees are SO aggressive when you check out and try to get you to open a VCF card, and they will keep at you, even when you say “no, no, NO!” and will drone on and on about the benefits (free panties here, bra coupons there). Credit card openings are the currency of VCF employees, literally, because it means that you’ll get more hours and get paid more (as VCF is not commission-based, the only way to make bux is to work hours). OK, time for the best tip ever: the best way I’ve found to shut up salespeople when they are pestering you about a credit card is to say, “Oh, I have one already!” and when they say, “Well did you want to use it today?” then you say, “I would, but it’s MAXED OUT!” and laugh in an embarrassed way. Salespeople fucking love that shit. They think you’re a loyal customer and loose with your money, when in actuality you are a savvy MTFB reader.

Luckily, I had done a stint in college as a credit card telemarketer (do you like me a little less now? It’s ok, I understand.) and for some reason I rocked at it so I was already super skilled at selling credit cards. My tactic was to say “Yeah, when I first started working here I didn’t really want one either, but I finally just got one, and I actually LOVE it because blah blah blah.” And that usually worked. After telemarketing, selling credit cards at VCF was a piece of cake, and I got more and more hours as a result. Score?

THE DREADED PANTY TABLE

Regular patrons of VCF will be very familiar with the tables that have rows and rows of panties on them. They are usually the cotton ones; the glamorous lacy ones get their own pink satin hanger. Have you noticed how beautifully said panties are laid out, with each embroidered waist peeking out above the one in front of it, XS in front to XL in back? Yeah. That shit doesn’t just happen.

On my first closing shift ever at VCF, Consuela said “Janet, do the panty tables.” Do them? Ok. I walked over, sighed at the devastation that was before me (a day’s worth of crazy women mauling the table) and made it look pretty again. It took about 20 minutes with my fast and dexterous Asian hands. But noooooooo, apparently this is not how you “do” a panty table. An irritated Consuela came over, ripped the wad of panties out of my hand and said, “NO, you need to start over. All over.” And she proceeded to swipe all the panties off the table, took one XL off the pile, laid it down at the back of the panty table, and proceeded to ONE BY ONE lay the panties down. I couldn’t believe it. Are you fucking serious me? ((This phrase was coined by a pal at Cornell, who was ESL (he was from Hong Kong) and mistakenly combined the phrase “Are you fucking serious?” with the phrase “Are you fucking kidding me?” and made it into “Are you fucking serious me?” Isn’t that adorable? I use it every day.)) After I unfroze from my disbelief I set out to finish the mind-numbing task, which took me an hour. Closing shifts are nice because you don’t feel the pressure to open credit cards, but oy! Tedium Delirium. The final straw that killed closing shifts for me forever, though, was a spectacular bitch I’ll call “Marcy Darcy.”

MARCY DARCY

Marcy Darcy was a trashed-out VCF employee, older, curly hair with blonde highlights, bitter, you know. Single mom, that kind of gal. Always called people “honey” and “sweetie” in a totally contemptuous way. Ick ick double ick. On top of that, she was a sketchy bitch. When you ask a customer if anyone was helping them and they say “no,” you are supposed to rotate through the employee codes to give each of them sales credit in turn. Being the goody-two-shoes Asian that I am, I obeyed this rule to a T. Not MD. She would punch in her own employee code over and over and over again to get sales credit (a tactic severely frowned upon, but used by desperate holes who try to use this to compensate for the fact that they suck at opening credit cards). We all hated her for it, and I should have taken this as a sign that she was a gigantic unethical sketchball.

Anyway, Marcy Darcy was a wannabe manager, meaning that she had no real power, but they trusted her enough to give her a key to the store so she could close and the real managers could go home at 5. I ended up on closing shifts with her for a whole week. Most people liked me at closing because I was quick, and the fewer hours used per closing, the more money saved. For this reason managers are always riding your ass about finishing faster. Marcy Darcy, though, was uncharacteristically sweet to me and the rest of the team for the whole week. She even got around to having us vacuum every night (usually most pseudo-managers skip it because it’s time consuming and that makes them look bad). When we were finally finished, she would say, “I clocked out for you guys to save you a couple minutes.” Thanks, Marcy! Again, uncharacteristically sweet.

When my check came two weeks later, however, something was wrong. I didn’t get paid for a lot of the time that I spent closing. Weird. I went back to the actual sheets that we use to clock in and out, and discovered that MD had been clocking me out 30 minutes early all week! That sneaky bitch! Not even that sneaky, since of course she was going to get caught! As I am not in the Mafia, Japanese or otherwise, I have no problems being a snitch, and I went straight to my manager and told on Marcy. MD got fired, and life was a lot sweeter around VCF, meaning it was just less than tolerable rather than wrist-slittingly horrible.

THE NEW PRODUCT MEETING

Every month or so, VCF employees are required to go to a team meeting at 7:00 am on Sunday morning. Painful, right? They would say “we brought breakfast!” meaning they stole a couple danishes from the hobo on the street. At these meetings, we would learn about new products or highlighted products coming out from VCF. This particular meeting was to introduce us to the new bra for women with bigger boobs. The one perk of VCF is that each employee gets a sample of the new product, but what the hell was I supposed to do with a big boob bra (again, the whole Asian thing)? We had to watch videos with hilariously acted samples of how to sell the product, which was entertaining to me.

But after the product discussion would inevitably come the “team building” part of the meeting [shudder]. We would go around in turn and talk about the best thing that had happened to us that week, and what “inspires” us at VCF. Let the bullshit begin! Everyone (even, or perhaps especially, those girls who had just finished tearing apart a fellow employee behind her back) would get all shiny-eyed, clutching their free huge bra and saying how helping this guy pick out a slip for his wife and it like, really made me believe in love [giggles and applause], or how this one client really liked the new blue satin bra, and blue is MY favorite color, too, and wow like that was such a huge coincidence! [giggles, more applause] or the classic go-to line about how working here has led to, like, true friendships, and I love you all ["awwwws" and giggles and loud applause]. Again, I’m pretty tolerant of saccharine shit like this, so the fact that it was making even me gag is pretty remarkable. When my turn came around, I said, “I think this job is teaching me how to connect with people, and I’m learning so much that will help me succeed in life, no matter what I do.” Nice, right? Asians can always fall back on the whole “learning” thing since all we care about is education. I got the requisite nods and applause, and after the meeting the regional manager came up to me and said, “I LOVED what you had to say at team building. I see a great future for you here at VCF.” String together one sentence that doesn’t have “like” in it and you will succeed at VCF, I guess.

MY ONE FUN EXPERIENCE

I had one fun experience working at VCF that I’ll never forget. The trashiest of all trashed-out women (Anna Nicole would bow her head in her presence) came into the store and commandeered the biggest, nicest dressing room and had us parade around all the new bra styles for her. She was barely coherent, and very disheveled. She told me she wanted to try the new silicone cup enhancers (for boy readers: these are rubbery half-boobs that you stick in your bra to make you one cup size bigger) and I obliged. She tried to stuff them in but couldn’t get her hands to work, so she stuck her chest out at me and gestured for me to put them in. Yikes. Being the ever obedient Asian that I am, I did the best I could to push the silicone down without touching her lizard skin but the top of one was still hanging out the top of her tank top. Yucky. She ended up not buying anything (of course), but when we were cleaning out the dressing room we noticed that the cup enhancers were gone! Devious wench!!  She had stolen the one thing that didn’t have a sensor attached to it. We have to report any suspected theft so we called mall security (ironically, most theft or “shrink” is conducted by employees, so every day before we leave our purses are searched by the managers, making one feel ever so dignified). We were trying to describe her to the security dude when, unbelievably, she stumbled back in the store and asked me, “Did I leave my crack in the dressing room? I really need it. Can you get some people to help me look for it?” Are you fucking serious me again? I couldn’t believe it. Security escorted her out, and we never did find the crack. Pity.

So you see, not all of my time at VCF was bad. Most people’s hellish retail jobs have to do with crazy customers who treat you like shit (and I did encounter plenty of those at VCF), but the one good part of my job actually involved a crazy customer whose probably toxic boobs I had to touch! I think it’s significant that all of my grievances are with VCF policy, management, and employees. What a craptank. Boyfriends, please skip VCF and go to shopbop and buy some designer lingerie. Teenage girlies, do not apply there for your first mall job. Try Club Monaco – my friend worked there and loved it. But if you are going to VCF to get frisky in the dressing room and make a gooey mess, go for it. Please.

8 Responses to “Victoria’s C-Face”

  1. Carl says:

    I could read this 3 more times because it is really funny and well-written.

  2. "carissa" says:

    you are a blogging machine! i love your posts — they are so janetty. janet-astic!

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  6. Kaye says:

    I find this particularly hilarious because I too worked here. Everything you described, right down to the panty table, is absolutely true. You just forgot to mention how you’re encouraged to capitalize on the drooling or otherwise hapless males and essentially walk them up to the cash register with the most expensive crap in the store, or that after each shift you walk out smelling like Anna Nicole Smith’s boudoir because of all the perfume dousing the air.

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