.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.


Powered by WebAds

Thursday, January 04, 2007

(not a) Shop Girl

My friend Miriam likes to shop, but I don't.

I don't know if it's my tight budget, my unusual taste in clothes, a lack of time, or the frustration I experience trying to find something to wear that is modest without being frumpy looking that does it for me, but I've always avoided the mall as much as possible.

Sometimes though you've got to do what you've got to do. And if your boots are coming apart at the soles and your coat is frayed at the edges and has holes in in the cuffs and pockets then what you have to do is... go shopping. Its a good time of year to shop too if you must. Most winter items are discounted and the holiday shopping rush is over.

As I was about to try on some boots a woman came over to me and asked to see some Nikes in a size 9. Since I have not been shopping without my kids in a while (I prefer to shop online for myself when I can) I had almost forgotten that I suffer from a rare affliction called shopgirlosis.

Since I was about 18 years old anytime I've been shopping alone - or left to wander the racks by myself even for a few minutes- I've been mistaken for a store employee.
It doesn't matter what I'm wearing - a skirt and sweater, business suit, sneakers, sheitel, hat etc... at least once while perusing the racks or on my way to the dressing room someone calls out or approaches me:

"Excuse me miss, do you have this in a size 8"
"Would you put this is the dressing room for me?"
"Do you keep the slippers in the shoe department or in sleepwear?"

For years I've been trying to figure out what leads people to believe I work at Macy's or Sears or Old Navy. It might be that I tend to smile when people approach me with a question confirming their initial assumption that yes, my sole reason for being is to check the back room for the sweater of their dreams.
It might also be that I am always careful to put things back on the rack that I took them from. I know it's a lot of work to keep a department in order so if I take something off the rack to get a closer look I'll do my best to return it properly.
My friend G suggests that perhaps I have a "retail face" but I think he's just kidding. Anyway I'm Jewish, if ANYTHING I should have a "wholesale face."

Truthfully, I don't really mind it. A brief "Oh sorry, I don't work here." Takes care of things quickly enough. It's just so odd! I wish I could figure out what causes it.

Does this ever happen to you or is it just me?

35 Comments:

At 12:51 PM, Blogger miriam said...

Oh, I hate shopping too... that's why I sew. (Many of my own clothes, most of the clothes my daughters wear, oh, and snoods and hats for me, for friends, and also to sell. Google "heavenward designs" if you're interested.... and if that's too much like Spam, you can delete me, I won't mind.)

But more to the point, I'm almost never shopping without my kids anymore, and I don't think I've ever been taken for a salesgirl/woman. Maybe you just always look like you know what you're doing?

 
At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, on a completely unrelated note, I would like to let you know that I recently moved to a new city, do not have a job yet, am bored solid, and spend 80% of my day glued to my computer screen and waiting for Shifra updates. Sad, I know.

I ALWAYS get mistaken for store employees. Actually, this one time it was largely my fault because I went into Indigo (the Canadian Barnes & Noble) wearing a khaki skirt and denim shirt, which is the employees uniform. I literally had to leave after 5 minutes because of the number of people asking me questions.

Anyway, keep up the posts...I LOVE THEM!!

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

Yes, all the time. I think it's a combination of wearing modest/normal clothes (probably worse for frum women than for us guys) and smiling at people who look at you, like you said. Once in a while, I'll just answer their questions anyway - it's faster than getting into a whole conversation explaining that I'm not a salesman. :)

 
At 1:40 PM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Sometimes when I play gigs in places where they serve food (ie weddings, or dinners) people assume I am a waitor.

They ask me for a drink, and I take their order, then I never come back.

It's so much fun!

Then there was the time these little old ladies asked me to identify some food at a shmorg for them.

You should have seen them turn beet red when they ate that hot mustard sauce!

 
At 2:17 PM, Anonymous holy hyrax said...

Is there women out there that are somewhere in the middle? They either love it or hate it. My wife loves it. She can be there the whole day. I often tell her that I absolutely do not want her looking frumpy, till she tells me to come with her and tell her what looks good on her. I can say that I have been to hell and back. From now on, I am sketching something and telling her to find something close as possible.

Regarding being mistaken for an employee: It has happened a couple of times, but I mostly get mistaken for a young George Clooney. Must be my charm. Siggggh, what can I do? But back to you Shifra. I would make a tshirt that says "Leave me alone, I don't F#@*ing work here." That just might solve all your problems.

 
At 2:48 PM, Blogger Scraps said...

I used to sub for an employee in the local Borders in the Children's/YA section. I spent so much time there that I knew the place at least as well as someone who worked there, except that I couldn't access the computers. And I was buddies with the actual employee who covered that section, so she knew she was leaving it in good hands. :-P

 
At 3:00 PM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Shifra: Women that hate shopping? You have truly taught me something today...

And yes, I also get queried as the salesperson...in the supermarket, mall, and bookstore.

Maybe it's a Jewish thing to be thought of as a salesperson, since we've been the merchant class for two thousand years?

 
At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe offer your services at each store at an exorbitant rate,, and see what happens!

 
At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't usually get asked if I'm a salesgirl, but I used to get asked if I got separated from "my Mommy." Shopping with one or both kids usually prevents that from happening anymore.

For some reason I am still ALWAYS the person that weirdos choose to chat up on line at the library or supermarket.

This whole topic kind of takes me back to my job at TCBY - "How about some toppings, Ma'am?" "Would you like to supersize that for just fifty cents more, Sir?" At least I learned how to make a mean iced coffee.

Or, as I related to Ezzie, observing in junior high or high school classes and being asked by other teachers why I was out of class. No wonder I chose to work in an elementary school that went up to fourth grade.

I'm also not a big shopper. Here's hoping you got what you needed and you're done for a while!

 
At 5:27 PM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

I don't get asked if I'm separated from my mommy, but frequently when I answer the phone people ask if my mother is home.

I tell them no. She doesn't even live with me.

 
At 5:35 PM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

PT: When I answer the door, I still have meshulachim ask if my parents are home.

When they ask me that -- I usually answer, "no, they aren't home...bye"

 
At 7:44 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

We had anti-Semitic stuff sprayed in our apartment building, and got a knock on our door during Shalosh Seudos. A bunch of people were over, and Serach went to answer the door. It was a detective and a policeman. The detective asked Serach "Are your parents home?"

When Serach was pregnant, she got into the elevator after a doctor's visit. A woman in the elevator said, "Oh, I just realized you're pregnant! What is this, your first? How old are you, 16?!"

By a friend's engagement party, an old man yelled at me for being married to a girl who couldn't be more than 14, talking about Serach.

 
At 8:50 PM, Blogger Eliyahu said...

it used to happen frequently in the supermarket, as i was walking toward the exit from the bank in the market. actually, given the number of times it happened, i am surprised that no one wanted to offer a complaint about the market!

 
At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ezzie - "BY a friend's engagement party . . . " You've clearly been in the NY frum scene longer than you realize - unless frum Clevelanders don't use the grammatical "at" either? :)

 
At 8:57 PM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Jameel: Grow a beard. Shifra, you should consider growing one too. Then no one will approach you.

 
At 4:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shifra, do you carry a purse? Any woman not carrying a purse in a store is presumably working.

 
At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy shopping about as much as a visit to the dentist, so nuff said on that one. But I do relate to the comments about being mistaken for someone much younger. At age 25, I would still get regularly carded when buying wine for Shabbos at the local Drug Fair. At the time I found it insulting and infuriating, but everone told me I'd appreciate looking younger than my age a couple of decades down the line! Now I see what they meant. So Serach, Jameel, RM and anyone else this happens to, look at the bright side.

 
At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have major shopgirlitis.. i am constantly being asked questions.. i think its mostly due to the way i ( as a frum girl) dress.. conservative etc

 
At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Shrinker said...

Let's look at the flip side of this. I know I've made the mistake of approaching a non-employee many times, even after I've thought about the possibility that my target is a shopper like me and then discounted that possibility. So I ask myself how that happened, and I think the answer is what all of you have said about the dress and appearance, and one more thing: It's the way the person carries themself. There's a certain confidence, a manner that seems to say "I belong here, I know my way around, I'm comfortable here" that completes the misleading conception that the person is an employee. So, if you get stopped all the time in stores, it's probably people picking up on your inner self-confidence.

 
At 1:48 PM, Blogger MUST Gum Addict said...

OK, a story similar in nature: I have a friend who used to own a lincoln town car. But whenever he used to drive around, people would whistle at him and ask "how much to the airport?". Once, he was waiting for a red light minding his own business when suddenly the back door opened and a business man jumped in the back seat and said "I need to be in Queens in 20 minutes."

My friend shrugged, put on his best Russian accent and said "ok". He charged the guy 50 bucks.

 
At 6:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think people approach you because you're friendly and approachable. A few years doing tech support would cure that! I used to have people walk up to me in the supermarket and ask for help, but no more. I think I wear the "Sys Admin from Hell" look on my face most of the time. :)

 
At 8:04 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said...

Maybe it's a Jewish thing to be thought of as a salesperson, since we've been the merchant class for two thousand years?

Well, Jameel, I'm Dutch - we're the epitome of merchants. We bought a lousy island for a handful of beads a while back, and now it's the most expensive bit of real-estate on the planet.

I guess that's why I've never been mistaken for a retail-employee. Bad vibes.

I must radiate a creepy aura of "have some beads, innocent little native person", or something.


Oh to be mistaken for a shopgirl...!

 
At 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, clearly its that people are picking up on the fact that you're not shopping.

 
At 6:28 PM, Anonymous hello there! said...

This happens to my brother all the time... Happens to me sometimes too...

Shifra... I noticed the ads on top of your blog... Are they there for good?

 
At 8:43 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

Hello there! I like your name- it's very cheerful!

Yes there are now ads on my site - I resisted them for a long time frankly I could use a bit of extra cash. I hope they will motivate me to post fresh content more often as well so it might work out well for everyone.

Let me know what you think of them.

Must Gum - that is an AWESOME story.

And to Jameel, PT, Elie and all the other youngsters out there I'm one of you... I was asked what HS I attended until I was 26!
It's not bad - the older I get the more I appreciate it.

 
At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Hello there! said...

I understand you gotta make money... but putting them right on top of the content like that is a bit distracting and annoying. Is there any way ads can be put somewhere less obtrusive such as the sidebar?

 
At 12:24 PM, Blogger SephardiLady said...

I didn't know there was another frum person out there who didn't like shopping (at least not for myself)! I can shop for the kids and enjoy it, since I shop ahead and get some great deals. However, I really don't enjoy shopping for myself. At some point I will have to replace much of my warerobe and I really wish that day would never come.

 
At 5:18 PM, Blogger MDmom said...

i'm not a fan of shopping either, especially since we moved to israel. it's just so inconvenient here. but whenever i'm in manhattan (and even before we moved when i worked there), i always get stopped and asked for directions. my mom does too. i must look approachable even though i try to put on my determined i-know-exactly-where-i'm-headed face.

once, on the way to penn station, while i was standing on the corner of 34th and 7th waiting for it to be relatively safe to jaywalk (new yorker that i am!) i was asked by a camera toting japanese tourist (what a cliche but he was for real!) where the empire state building was. i just blinked and pointed up.

 
At 10:23 PM, Anonymous Neshama said...

I'm usually taken as a "personal shopper"!

Store shopping is a waste of time. You never find anything you are looking for. When you're not looking, that's when you come across something interesting. I prefer to help my friends find suitable items; that's why they think I'm someone's personal shopper.

As for myself, I prefer to catalog shop, and returning is free when you exchange for a new item. I have been very successful this way. No travel time, no battling crowds, no back and forth for sizes, etc. I hate running around in search for something and coming home empty-handed. It's such a waste of time.

The stores only want to "sell you" the latest bunch of fabric they contracted for from the far east, with long arms, slinky fabrics, and wierd patterns, that everyone else is also buying.

Stylish clothing is almost a thing of the past - everything is mass produced anymore. No more clothing with personality, character and style. It takes a good mixing n'matching to create your own wardrobe, especially if you want to look nice and also be tznius.

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Katie said...

I don't get mistaken for a shop employee, but I get asked for directions on the street constantly, even when I'm a tourist myself. I joke that it's because I'm not threatening looking - people figure I may not be able to help, but I certainly won't attack them.

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Katie said...

I don't get mistaken for a shop employee, but I get asked for directions on the street constantly, even when I'm a tourist myself. I joke that it's because I'm not threatening looking - people figure I may not be able to help, but I certainly won't attack them.

 
At 12:25 AM, Blogger Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

Yes, I've got shopgirlitis. With me, it seems to come out mostly in bookstores, although I do get it elsewhere.

I think it is the way I walk. I tend to walk quickly, and will scope through stores very fast, looking for the department I want, or scanning merchandise. And I'll often, I've realized, run a finger down a row of merchandise, looking for the right item. I move in stores as though I am working.

I love the idea of giving off an ancestral aura of rolled carpets and caravans full of spices--or even a barrel of pickles--but I don't often get identified as Jewish by strangers.

 
At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you carry a big ugly backpack, it kills the shopgirlitis.

I also hate shopping, and will only go with my mom or my husband, and only when shops are basically empty.

And I got asked which high school I went to up until about age 25.

And Ezzie: Isn't Serach like 14? When last I saw her, she wasn't much more'n half my age, and I'm 28... ;)

 
At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you carry a big ugly backpack, it kills the shopgirlitis.

I also hate shopping, and will only go with my mom or my husband, and only when shops are basically empty.

And I got asked which high school I went to up until about age 25.

And Ezzie: Isn't Serach like 14? When last I saw her, she wasn't much more'n half my age, and I'm 28... ;)

 
At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...frustration I experience trying to find something to wear that is modest without being frumpy looking..." Have you checked out FunkyFrum.com? They offer a great selection of modest clothing that is really stylish and fashion-savvy.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home