The small shower was shared by the equally small men’s and women’s locker rooms. The entrance from both directions could be locked from the inside, and Jessie did that even though Nathan was the only man in the store. She wouldn’t put it past the creep to walk in on her and then pull, “Oops, I didn’t know you were still here.” As she showered she realized the ReJUV had worked. She didn’t feel tired. She wasn’t exactly fresh, the stuff was magic but it wasn’t perfect, it was more like she’d gotten up twelve hours ago rather than the actual 24. With a little coffee she thought the shift would be no problem. In 15 minutes she was washed, changed, showered, presentable, and out on the sales floor.
In 20 she was playing amateur psychologist to a bevy of rich women who had just seen a birthday, cellulite, or a wandering husband they never expected to. With compliments, and advice on what would flatter, minimize, or accentuate, she managed to both cheer them and move merchandise. Even though she wouldn’t see any of the money, “Finer Things” didn’t have a commission system, it felt good to be productive. Then the trophy wife walked in. It was an uncharitable judgment, but Jessie couldn’t help assuming that’s what the woman was. She had a gym toned body, and booth brown skin. Her hairdo and make-up job looked like it took at least three hours a day. The whole look suggested the woman worked with a bit more leisure time than most people managed.
“You,” the woman said fixing her eyes on Jessie an instant after she walked in the door, “I need help now.” She snapped her fingers driving the rudeness of the entire greeting though the roof.
“Yes ma’am.” Jessie answered grinding down her annoyance with the knowledge that she needed this job.
“Take me to your shoes.”
They were standing right by the shoes. Jessie wondered if it was possible she hadn’t noticed. Maybe, at any rate, it didn’t much matter. She handled the situation calmly. “Our selection of pumps is right over here,” she said turning toward the shoes just beyond them, and feeling a bit like a game show host as she did it. “Here we have some very nice flats. And along these shelves we have a good selection of heels.”
The woman snorted. An actual snort, like a pig or an old man. It wasn’t a pleasant sound. “These are trash. Show me your purses.” The woman had a slight accent. Jessie couldn’t really place it. It was Latin American, maybe even Mexican, but harsh like something from a big city. Maybe she was from a big Mexican city, or maybe she’d learned English in a big city.
Jessie led the way to the purses. They weren’t far from the shoes, and she was beginning to suspect that Trophy Wife knew that. Large purses were in, so the selection of bags ranged from the simply big to “I’m sorry you can’t take that on the plane ma’am,” huge. “We’ve just recently gotten some new purses in. I think you’ll be particularly pleased with these. They’re cruelty free, what looks like leather is actually a new synthetic that…”
“Looks like cheap fake crap. No thanks. Listen, do you have anything good in this store?”
Now Jessie was having to fight to stay calm, and was certain the woman’s attitude was deliberately provocative. What will get her out the door quickest? “We have some winter coats in. Not a full line, you understand, but I think you’ll find they’re working with materials that give great isolation without the usual bulk. Some of them are quite attractive.”
“Coats? You’re giving me coats? God! OK, let’s see them.”
Jessie set off leading the way with a particularly tight smile glued on her face. Well you took away shoes and purses, she thought. What exactly is left? In her experience shoppers who wanted pants, shirts, or dresses knew they wanted those things and didn’t ask for help. She’d considered suggesting a skirt, but the skirt selection really was pretty beat up and underwhelming. It was late fall. The first of the new skirts wouldn’t arrive for another two months. As they walked down the center aisle the woman grabbed a package of pantyhose and put it in her purse. The gesture was in no way furtive and that alone gave Jessie some hope that she actually intended to pay. They arrived at the coat display.
“Now this is a walking coat. It’s 100 percent natural wool construction and you’ll find that…”
“Clearly, I’ll find that you don’t want to sell me anything from this store. I’m leaving.”
Trophy Wife turned and marched towards the store’s nearest exit. She didn’t even look at the register. Jessie mentally weighed the trouble of stopping her.