While working at Bed, Bath & Beyond, I've learned several important life lessons: 1) Always call a manager to finish a task I don't want to finish; 2) Matching silicone grips on all my Oxo kitchen utensils IS a necessity; 3) My name tag gives me ultimate powers in all things decorative and utilitarian. I can defecate all this nonsense of the benefits of chrome electric mixers over steel electric mixers and they'll buy it, literally, and then buy one for their mothers.
The most gullible customers, not surprisingly, are men, usually between ages 45 and 65 -- men who wander in on impossible quests from their cuckolding wives, men who will stumble through our 4,500 square feet of merchandise wondering which circle of hell they're in, whispering repentances for every sin they think they've committed in the hopes of escaping this modern Cerberus (Bed, Bath and Beyond heads rearing for the kill). So, when I descend, little white name badge fluttering in the AC like seraphim's wings, my job is already done.
Just the other day, I approached a man in his late 50s.
He looked at me and said, "You HAVE to help me. I've been in here for an hour and a half!"
He needed a bathroom mat and a fitted bed sheet, which may sound like an Herculean feat if you're blind, illiterate and paraplegic. Luckily for him, he wasn't any of those, and luckily for me, all I need as a retail associate is a decent memory and articulation; I use soothing phrases such as, "I'll take good care of you," and, "I'll make you feel alright" (actually, I'm often tempted to sing The Doors at work, if only to drown out the Maroon 5 playing on the overhead speakers all day). Phrases such as "complimentary color scheme" for most women and "utilitarian" for men and dykes not only sells merchandise, but creates an everlasting bond between kindred spirits; "You have a need, and I have the power to meet it. After all, we're in this together." Such is capitalism.
My late 50s man bought a $50 Wrinkle-Free queen fitted sheet and three $25 bathroom rugs, and at that moment, I felt like Oprah Winfrey wielding her wand of consumer wizardry: I point and they buy. (Side note: every book Oprah recommends becomes a best-seller, she may have caused a $12 million deficit in the Texas beef industry in 1998 because of her personal refusal to eat beef during the mad cow scare, and she made the list of most influential people for CNN, Time Magazine and the American Spectator.)
Some day, I will rule the world, too. One 9" round Calphalon pound cake pan at a time.