christmas according to gap

Working in retail always has it's unexpected little surprises. Working in retail around Christmastime proceeds to reveal more then ever should have been and much of what needed to be.

Of course, a clothing store is bound to be busy in the last few days before Christmas Eve. In the past week, I have seen perfectly normal mothers in their turkey-print turtlenecks and high-waisted jeans become ravaging GI's, plundering just folded tables of clothing for their specific item. Piles of skirts are fiercely paged through as a certain size NEEDS to be located. Manners go out the window in rites of passage within a store, and I've seen more then one woman vigorously cut off by another within the short aisles.

The men don't seem to have this warring problem when it comes to clothes and shopping...they meander slowly about the store, observing the pandemonium from a distance and then casually pick up a sweater they think their wife will appreciate and amble towards the cash register. Easy.

I've had my share of stories from these last couple days, but one exchange stuck out to me more then the rest (minus of course the woman who proceeded to remove clothing in front of the cash register to prove that her jeans legitimately carried the Gap label):

I had been working the register for approximately three hours without a slow in customers when the young woman who was next in line began to cautiously make her way to the counter. She seemed very unsure of herself and a bit self conscious as she laid a pair of men's jeans and an expensive, men's peacoat on the counter. She smiled shakily and brushed back a stringy bang from her face. She looked pretty young, twenty at the oldest.

"Do you need a gift receipt for any of this?" I asked her.

"Um..no..I mean, well, no..I don't think so," she stammered, "I don't think I'll be returning this. I forgot what it feels like to buy clothes for him." She smoothed her rumpled shirt and shifted her weight from one foot to the other. "My husband's coming home tomorrow," she smiled a silly grin, "He just got his visa approved and he's coming home tomorrow."

"Oh really? Where's he from?" I asked as I placed the clothes she was buying into the big red bag.

"Um, Mexico," she smiled oddly and rubbed her pale arm, "It feels so strange, I can't believe it." She chattered for a bit about the arrangements and when he would be coming, telling me many more details then the normal Christmas customer usually would. She seemed sweet, but strange.

"Well, I'm so happy for you...just in time for Christmas too!" I told her, "Looks like you're all set here, if you want to sign right there you'll be good to go."

She was staring off into space, a vacant look in her eyes.

"Ma'am?"

"Oh..what?" she brushed her shirt nervously, "Sorry...I'm out of it."

"Not a problem," I said, "Here, sign right here."

She signed the scanner and then looked up at me, still smiling her perplexing grin as I handed her the bag of clothes.

"I have to go pick him up at the airport now, I think he's waiting. Bye." She had an awkward, tottering gait and moved slowly from the counter with her belongings, still smiling.

I hope he was there waiting for her. And I hope he really loves her too.