I worked at Victoria’s Secret during one summer when I was in college. I’d always loved the store, was pretty hyped about the discount I would get, and thought it would sound sexy when I told potential suitors that I worked there. Turns out that working there and, say, being a Victoria’s Secret Angel are two very different things. Roughly three years ago I wrote this post about my time at Victoria’s Secret. To this day, I still get e-mails and comments about the post, so I thought I’d touch on it again, this time with a more mature view of the world. Also, since I’ve worked retail again since my time at The Secret (as I used to call it), I think I have a better perspective on things.
Look, if you’ve ever worked retail, you know it can be tough. Your schedule is strange, you’re on your feet for long periods of time, and some customers are rude. When you work in a store that sells sexy undergarments, you have to add in a certain creep factor too. Yes, there were guys who would come in claiming that they wanted to buy a particular item for their girlfriend and would I mind trying it on so they could get a sense of how it would fit? Creepalicious.
There were three other things that made me not excited to clock into work each day. They included:
- Bra fittings: This is because my training consisted of watching a video for a few hours, then hitting the floor and trying to measure real, live women who were impatient and unclear on why I had no effing idea what I was doing. I worked there for an entire summer, and I left having no earthly idea how to fit someone for a bra. When a customer would come in, I would try to hide and pretend it was desperately important that I refold that stack of underwear so they wouldn’t ask me to measure them. To this day, I never go get measured at Victoria’s Secret. I don’t want one of the poor girls working there to have to go through that stress.
- The word “panties”: I think a lot of women hate the word “panties” but I have an especially strong aversion to the word. This is because the “panty bar” at my store was the bane of my existence. As soon as I would get everything folded all nicely, inevitably someone would come in rummaging and mess it all up and I’d have to start all over again. Rinse and repeat rinse and repeat until my shift was done. It was like one of those trick candles you get on a birthday cake that you can’t actually successfully blow out. To this day, I call undies “drawers” because I think it’s a funny word and it doesn’t give me PTSD about having to fold hundreds upon hundreds of pairs of underwear before I could go home.
- A fear of the cash register: This carried over to my other retail job too. There’s something about working the cash register that gives me serious stage fright. Maybe it’s because I know I suck at math, but when I felt a customer standing there waiting for me to ring her up, I would just freeze. It was not good.
But my time at The Secret wasn’t all bad. Here are a few positives that came out of it:
- An appreciation for money: It’s such a grandpa thing to say “I learned the value of a dollar” but I swear I did. This is because I actually ended up OWING the store money after I left. How did this happen, you ask? Well when you’re in a store for eight hours at a time, eventually even undesirable items end up looking cute. So cute, in fact, that you think you must purchase them immediately or you’ll simply die. Plus, you know you have an employee discount, so how could you not? So purchase I did. This is why I have four drawers of undergarments to this day. I’m not proud of my poor spending habits, but I do think I learned a lesson.
- An appreciation for cute underwear: I love when women feel confident in themselves and their bodies. We are awesome, and we all deserve to feel that way. Watching someone buy something really cute and strut up to the counter with said item was really cool. I know that sounds weird, but it just made me feel like, “You go, girl! Treat yoself. Buy something sexy.” I know lingerie is only one piece of the self-confidence puzzle, but I truly believe it makes a difference.
A little distance from my time at The Secret plus more life experience in general has made me appreciative of the whole thing. Yeah, a lady in a Tweety Bird jacket once screamed at me because she didn’t like the coins I chose to make her change. But I got to wear all black every day (which is often my outfit of choice anyway) and wear a sweet headset. So in the end, it all works out.