Tales from the Panty Bar: My Last Day

Five years spent working in a popular lingerie store digs into my memory like ill-fitting underwire into a ribcage.

Five years spent working in a popular lingerie store digs into my memory like ill-fitting underwire into a ribcage.

Quitting in a storm of blazing glory is every disgruntled employee’s dream. Unfortunately, when I had my last day at Lingerie Store, I wasn’t certain if it was my last day. I was moving to D.C. without a job lined up, and I couldn’t be sure if I would need to transfer stores. So as much as I wanted to light my bridges on fire and watch them burn, I couldn’t.

If only I could send a note back to 2011, it would say, “Yell at the man with the stained brown women’s underwear.”

On my last day, I was working the cash register. I believe it was a weekday, so things were fairly slow. At Lingerie Store, our return policy was to take back everything. EVERYTHING. (I had many thoughts on this topic. None of them good.) So this man, with his two teenage daughters in tow, approaches the register and puts down a bag, saying that he’d like to exchange these underwear. No, he doesn’t have a receipt.

I pull the underwear out of the bag. Firstly, they are old. They’re a style we haven’t had in a few years. Secondly, THEY ARE COVERED IN BROWN STREAKS. EVERYWHERE. Not just the inside. I… I just don’t even know how this could have occurred. Did someone run out of toilet paper? Did someone pour coffee right into the bag and then let it sit in the car for three years? No idea what I was looking at.

There was a moment–a moment that had the potential to be beautiful–where I laid out the stained underwear and looked the man dead in the eyes. This was it. The moment where I could have finally let a customer with a gross return just have it.

But I didn’t.

I did manage to say, “Do I even want to know what happened to these?” And he just shrugged, as his teenage daughters pranced around the store looking for the frilly pink underwear they wanted in exchange.

The only burning that took place was from the scalding water I used to wash my hands afterwards.


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