“Are you finding everything okay?”

Rather than go to the Gym on Mondays, I often go instead to Scottsdale Fashion Square for a brisk one hour walk, after which I wind down with a half hour of hands-on window shopping. Today was just such a day. I had a very tight schedule and this would save ninety minutes. The one hour walk seemed more like fifteen minutes; perhaps, because I kept getting ideas and not wanting to interrupt the walk, I’d stop only for a minute and jot down a key word or two. Or three. At last, my hour was up and here before me was  a lone leather couch in front of Barneys New York. (When I visit Barneys I get this creepy feeling that there are five or six sales people hidden behind a fern watching my every move.)

Rested, I move on.

First store: Macy’s. I was handling a plaid shirt of wool flannel. It bore the Polo guy on the chest and I was thinking that I really like the quality and the traditional styling of Polo garments and that it seemed a shame to pay double what the garment was worth simply because of the label and then to spend another ten dollars to have the label removed. As I muttered to myself an attractive young lady of twenty-seven and a half or so edged toward me with a glowing smile on her lips and said to me “Are you finding everything okay?”

We talked for a minute and I went on my way, thinking as I walked, “that young lady needs to take a course in Customer Service” And I remembered some of the insanely original things I had done and said in earlier days in my own retail stores in order to encourage intimacy and leave the customer feeling that they were not intruding, and that this could be their home away from home if they liked this place and then I’d get out of their way.

I walked into Dillard’s and was examining white dress shirts. I knew exactly what I wanted and I knew exactly where to find them. A mature lady of normal girth and a more controlled smile than that of the young lady at Macy’s; a smile which  said  little and hinted at a surprise or two faded as she said to me “Are you finding everything okay?”  

I told her what I wanted. She inspected the shirt I was wearing as I explained  that I was shopping for two more just like it with a fifteen inch collar and a thirty-three inch sleeve. She quickly informed me that Dillard’s no longer sold this shirt and then attempted to up-sell me. I thanked her for her assistance after telling her that I did not want a substitute. I did not tell her that I had already found the shirts that I’d been looking for.

I walked to the Food court and visited with an old friend who managed one of the restaurants there and then continued for one last look at Macy’s.

As I walked toward Men’s Suits the young lady with whom I had spoken earlier walked over to me and said “Hi”.”

“Much better” I thought.

“You know, I meant to ask you earlier, ‘where did you buy that shirt you’re wearing’. It’s beautiful. That is no ordinary white dress shirt. The unusual weave, the way the fabric falls without that stiff look that dress shirts usually have when they come back from the cleaners. Is it hand laundered?”

We finished our conversation in the food court. Muriel is actually almost thirty, has never married and wants to be a store manager in four years.  I really like my new shirt.