Monday, May 05, 2008

Tales from the Clinique Counter

To pay off my gi-normous credit card debt, I am going to get a part time job.

Yesterday, as CN and I were running some errands, I decided to stop by the department store at the mall to see if there were any openings at the Clinique counter. When I was in grad school, I used to be a Clinique girl, and it wasn't too bad, as far as part time jobs are concerned.

*tons of free makeup and perfume -- TONS
*you don't come home smelling like food
*if you are going out afterwards, it's easy to touch up your makeup before you go
*since the mall closes at 9, it's still early enough to meet up with friends afterwards
*you won't get blisters on your feet, cuts on your fingers, or mysterious goo on your body (can you tell I waited tables for a looooonnng time??)
* if you are on the clock, you are getting paid

*you work 3 weekends a month
*you have to deal with the public
*you are not paid in cash
*department store managers tend to be...not the best bosses I've had in my life (more on this later)
*you will never make more than your base pay while you are on the clock (I am expecting to make $10/hour)

So I walked up to the lady at the Clinique counter (who may or may not technically be a midget, btw, as unusual as that sounds) and asked her about it. She seemed really excited about my inquiry and called over the head Clinique girl. She was even MORE excited than the almost-midget lady.

It turns out that they needed a PT person. And since I am already experienced in Clinique AND a former employee of the same chain of department stores, they all but guaranteed me the spot. I'm probably still in their system, actually, which will cut down on all that new employee paperwork! WOOT!

If I work 15 hours per week, I should make $600/month (before taxes). This will help out SO MUCH, considering I'm already putting about $300/month towards my credit card debt already. Yay!

And although I'm excited about the free makeup, I am dreading the downside: working with the public. Don't get me wrong -- the vast majority of people who come in are great. They are nice, easy to deal with and well-groomed. (See where I am going with this?)

But some of the people....well, I think some Tales from the Clinique Counter can explain this well:

1. One day, a totally drunk lady was roaming around the makeup area. On a Sunday. At noon. She was so plastered, I think the store called the police to have her escorted out. But that was after she verbally harassed half the cosmetics staff. And knocked over a bunch of stuff.

2. Some people who want makeovers surprise me, because they are kind of putting the carriage before the horse. Let's see. How do I put this? Um, if your unibrow weighs 4 pounds, or if you have acne that makes a pizza look like a clear complexion, or if you have a hairy chest*, you should deal with those issues before getting a makeover. Same can be said for body odor, chin hair and missing teeth (hey, I live in SC, remember). I know I sound snooty right now, but seriously, would YOU want to put makeup on a woman's hairy chest?? (Yeah, she wanted to see if we could "cover it up". It's like, "No, lady! We can't!") It's so crazy to me that these women will look in the mirror and think, "Yes, that's what I need. A new lipstick." WTF?!

3. Then there are the people who try to take advantage of the generous return policy. One girl came in 10 minutes before closing (WHY do these people always come in right before closing??) with a huge bag of stuff. I think it was over $200 worth of Clinique stuff. She wanted to return everything. Normally, this is no problem at all. But this girl was returning EMPTY containers she had originally bought a YEAR previously. (Even more incredulous was that she actually still had the receipt!) Because of the extreme absurdity of her return request (I believe I said, "Um, are you kidding me?"), I decided to consult a manager before approving it. But it turned out that we couldn't really say no to her -- she was technically within the limits of the return policy. She got all her money returned onto her credit card. Then, she stormed off in a huff because we couldn't return the money to her in cash!

4. Another lady used to take advantage of the neighboring Lancome counter. She would buy expensive perfumes and body lotions, only to take them home, use about half of the product, fill the bottle back up with water or cheap lotion, and exchange the items for brand new ones. Since they were "like new" to all outward appearances, no one caught on. They thought she just wanted to try a different perfume or lotion, or that she had purchased the wrong one by accident. She did this about 3 times before anyone caught on. After that, she wasn't allowed to make returns anymore!

5. Then, there were The Minivers. I can't remember what their last name was, but it sounds like Miniver. This was an elderly couple, who on first inspection, seem like your regular, cute grandparent-like couple. But don't let them fool you -- they will CAMP OUT at your makeup counter, making you demonstrate every single freaking product you sell. These are the same products you demonstrated to them the last time they came in, by the way. After each application on Mrs. Miniver, she and Mr. Miniver would discuss how it looked on her. This would take about 15 minutes per discussion. You will sit there and wonder why in the hell an 80 year old man gives a rat's ass which shade of eyeshadow looks better on his wife of 56 years. After they decide which products they will buy, they will end up spending about $300. But wait! Don't get too excited about that big sale, even if your manager does pat you on the back! Mrs. Miniver will arrive bright and early tomorrow morning to return everything she bought the day before. And then someone else will have to go through the whole thing again with her.

Imagine my excitement when I quit the Clinique job to take on a full time position at the public library.........only to discover that Mr. and Mrs. Miniver used that library. And drove everyone nuts there, too. There was about a 3 year period where I couldn't escape the Minivers!

Those are the main crazy makeup counter stories. If I think of more, I will share. And all apologies to any female readers with hairy chests. :)

*I wish I was making this up, but I'm not. Yes, the woman had a hairy chest. Like a man. And she decided to wear a low-cut top. It was a scary moment. One of the few times in my life I've literally been speechless. "Distracting" doesn't even begin to cover it.


Meghan (The Declaration of MY Independence) said...

HA! Thank you for posting this! I loved it!

cmk said...

Woman. Hairy chest. EWWWWW!!!!! (But this was also a very funny post. Thanks!)

Phantom Hater said...

Hirsute women are hot. Like she-bears. Grrrowl. ;)

Um, no, gross, and chin-hair, also gross.

I wish I could be a shady scammer like some people, but I have a (little bit of a) conscience. Half the time when I have legitimate reasons to return stuff, I get hassled because those d-bags make everyone suspicious.

Alison said...

I might need to be a Clinique girl too to cover my dental bill. Yikes!

RWA said...

Wait a minute. Someone can buy stuff, use it up and return it a year later - to get all of their money back?

That's a crazy policy.

* meish * said...

LOL. I love these stories. They remind me of my retail experience at Macy's back in college. NEVER AGAIN.

I hope you don't have to hang on to a second job for too long!

Sam said...

Wow. Am speechless. People are the suck.

Becky said...

right. see? that is exactly why i could NOT do that job lol

Scotty said...

Wha? Maybe she should have been visiting the Gilette counter?

The Dummy said...

Wow, I never knew about the dark side of Clinique. Some jobs sure do suck. You can't just spray perfume on their eyes to make them go away?

Smug said...

Your not going to be working for Belk are you? Don't even get me started on the suck factor of Belk!

Virginia Belle said...

meghan-- oh, these are just the customer stories. i have a couple of stories about managers, too.

cmk-- i will never get the image of the hairy chested woman out of my head. ever. it haunts me.

PH-- 50 points for you for using the word "hirsute" in a blog comment. :)

alison -- i am going to be paying off my DOG's dental bill! his teeth cost more than mine!

rwa-- yeah. it was really abused. i get that they want to provide no-hassle returns, but seriously, the return policy was a joke. it wasn't like it was any skin off my nose to return as much stuff as they wanted. it was just the principle of the thing that bothered me. dishonesty pisses me off.

meish -- ugh. me too. retail does kinda suck. luckily, it's been a few years, so i only have foggy memories of the suckage. i'm probably in for a rude awakening!

sam-- yup! gotta love the public!

becky -- but think of all the great stories you'd have! LOL

scotty -- all i can say is.....i live in SC. you get all kinds down here!

the dummy -- OOH! good idea!!!

smug-- no! and i've heard that belk sucks, too! i figure, i'll stay with the same chain i was with before -- i already know how bad it is. also, belk works on commission, and in this economy...i don't want to work on commission. especially for something semi-luxurious, like department store cosmetics! you know that's one of the first things women cut back on when their money gets tight.