I hope you didn’t come here looking for a warm and fuzzy friendship quiz. Read the subtitle, and think for a moment: The last time I was out trying on clothes in a department store fitting room, how did I behave?
I have eight years of experience working in a department store, cleaning out men’s, misses’, and juniors’ fitting rooms. I feel I am more than qualified to ask these questions, and judge you-brutally-based on your honest answers. You don’t have to agree with my assessment. I’m not a scientist. I’m not perfect. But I am right. You’ll see. If you’re a man, feel free to skip to the end of the article so you can read my “special note to the men reading this” and Fun Fitting Room Facts.
Are you ready to take the F.R.I.E.N.D. quiz? Good. Keep track of your responses on a piece of scratch paper. Or write on your hand. Or don’t keep track at all.
1) When I’m shopping for new clothes, I like to try on…
a) All the clothes that my spouse/significant other/parent/friend thinks would look “cute” on me. I honestly cannot make a decision by myself.
b) As many clothes as I possibly can. I wheel my overflowing cart into the fitting room with me, blatantly ignoring the “5 Items or Less” sign posted at the fitting room entrance.
c) Clothes that smell good or clothes with lots of pockets (I need pockets for all of my bananas and shiny objects that I like to carry at all times).
d) Just a few items, just to make sure the sizes and colors are right for me.
e) Nothing. I take my selections straight to the cash registers. If something doesn’t fit right, I might return it later, or make my wife return it for me (giving her permission to pick up a new blouse for herself while she’s at the store). Or I pretend nothing’s wrong with the too-short jeans, and wear them every day for the next five years, until everyone complains they can see my underwear through the holes in the back pockets.
2) When I am done trying on clothes, I…
a) Hang up a few items, backwards, inside-out, or upside-down, on all the wrong hangers. Give up on the rest. Leave them on the floor just like I do at home.
b) Trample them, and toss a few up in the air to see if they’ll catch on the sprinklers or fluorescent lights overhead. I button up my coat to conceal the eight bras, eight pairs of panties, ten tank tops, five T-shirts, two sweaters, and two pairs of jeans I am wearing under my original clothes, plus the assorted jewelry and fine fragrances I have crammed into my inner coat pockets. I’ve already ripped off all the tags from all the clothes, and stuck them under the fitting room bench with a wad of chewing gum. I’m so clever. I leave my old nasty bra and panties in the bottom of the shopping cart, covering them up with all the hangers, draping a new sweater over the top. It sure feels good to get rid of my old nasty bra and panties. I leave the cart in the fitting room, with the door closed, to trick other customers and store associates into thinking someone is still using the fitting room.
c) Urinate on the clothes I didn’t like, and then kick them under the bench. Or spill my coffee on the floor and refuse to buy all the white shirts on which I left colorful makeup stains.
d) I hang up everything, neatly, on the correct hangers. I bring all of my items out of the fitting room, and hang unwanted items on the “fitting room merchandise” rack next to the entrance of the fitting room, just as the signs in the fitting room instructed me to. Or I decide to put away the items myself. It’s no big deal. That poor girl who works here has enough to deal with. I think a kid just peed in the fitting room next to mine.
e) I never tried on any clothes in the first place. I’m home now, watching the game, breaking-in my new boxer shorts.
3) When I’m trying on clothes, I…
a) Squeal giddily, shriek, curse. Call friends on my cell phone to see if I was “just imagining” that “look” that Jacob gave me in biology class. Stick my gum to the fitting room mirror or draw a smiley face on the wall in permanent marker. Leave all my stuff-stinky shoes and all-in the fitting room while I go back out to the sales-floor to search for a different pair of pants. Grumble “everything in this store sucks” and ask the sales associate, “Why don’t you have any good clothes in size zero?” Parade around the department, showing off my clothes to friends and family, whining “This makes me look fat!” even though I’m a size zero and plan on purchasing the clothes I’m wearing (I know I don’t look fat; my boyfriend thinks I look hot, and I try to drag him into the fitting room with me when the store associate and my mom aren’t looking).
b) Sweat on everything. Eat Cheetos and change my tampon.
c) Grunt loudly. Wheeze. Fart. Cram my butt into a size-four pair of jeans and break the zipper. Search under the fitting room bench for candy or shiny objects, and discover only used tissues, price tags, and dead roly-polys swathed in lint and hair.
d) Don’t take long. There are people waiting for an open room.
e) Am annoyed at my wife or girlfriend who made me try on the clothes. All of the jeans and all of the slacks and all of the flannel shirts look exactly the same to me. I’ll take the same ones I always buy. I’m not interested in trying anything different.
4) I prefer to try on clothes…
a) With at least five friends in the fitting room with me. It’s fun when we all try on the same hideous dress. We like to use the “f” word frequently. It’s not like anyone can hear us. We’re inside a fitting room-hello!
b) With my newborn baby and toddler. That way I can shove merchandise in the baby’s diaper bag and send the toddler out to distract the sales associate while I’m stuffing baby clothes down my jeans. Okay, so maybe I won’t steal anything today, but the kids give me a good excuse to leave all my crap in the fitting room, right? And don’t forget the dirty diaper! I’ll just kick that under the bench so nobody notices…
c) That make me look more human.
d) Only when necessary. This isn’t fashion show time. Lord knows I’m not a supermodel, but I accept my jean size. I’m not going to try on every size ten until I find one that miraculously fits. I’m thrilled I found a nice, sensible blouse on the clearance rack in a color that flatters my complexion, but I’m not going to call my sister to brag about it. I’m going to re-fold these pants neatly and hand them to that nice girl who works here before I check out.
e) Never. I don’t need new clothes. Will you tell my wife this shirt is just fine? What is this-a fashion show? (Rolling eyes)
5) If I happen to encounter a sales associate next to or in the fitting room, I…
a) Avoid eye contact. That girl is going to have to clean up my mess when I leave. Oh well. That’s what she gets paid for, right? My mom doesn’t care when I leave my dirty underwear in the bathroom at home.
b) Ask if it’s okay to bring my shopping cart into the fitting room. It’s not? Darn it! What’s up with the 5-item limit? I NEED to try on ten pairs of jeans just to figure out my size. The more jeans I bring in with me, the easier it is for me to switch out my old jeans with a new pair. That dumb girl who works here won’t figure it out till I’m gone. I’ll even hang my old nasty pair of jeans-with the tags from the new jeans stuffed in the pockets-on the original hanger to fool her. Ha!
c) Ignore her smile and kind greeting, and scratch myself inappropriately. Where’s the toilet paper? Oh well. This shirt looks pretty absorbent.
d) Say hi and smile, and thank her for clearing out all the hangers and inside-out jeans that the last customer thoughtlessly left in the room. I’ll be sure to bring all my clothes and hangers out of the fitting room when I’m done.
e) Ask her where I can check out. And check her out while I’m at it. Maybe I should drop this package of socks “accidentally” and watch as she bends over to pick it up for me. Or I could ask her to describe the different styles of women’s panties. No, no. Better not. I can always call up the store and ask about the panties another time. Maybe after the football game’s over.
6) When there is a long line at all of the ladies’ fitting rooms, I…
a) Make my mom/husband/boyfriend/friend wait in line for me while I keep shopping. Then, when it’s my turn, I can take even more stuff into the fitting room with me!
b) Believe it’s natural to leave all the crap I don’t want in the fitting room when I’m done. It was messy when I walked in, so why should I clean up my mess? When I shove all these jeans against the wall, there’s plenty of room to pile up these fifteen cashmere sweaters that are way too expensive for me (I knew I wasn’t going to buy them, but I wanted to try them all on anyway).
c) Growl and beat my chest until everyone lets me move to the front of the line.
d) Wait my turn patiently, striking up polite conversations with the people around me.
e) Wait outside in the car, listening to the radio.
7) If I leave a mess in the fitting room, I justify my behavior by telling myself…
a) I don’t get how these hangers work! I’m not a rocket scientist! At least I hung everything on the hook…except for a few sweaters, bras, boxes of shoes, and leggings (which I removed from the packaging to try on).
b) The girls who work here were obviously serial killers in a recent past life. They have a LOT of bad karma. I’m helping them to atone for their past misdeeds by forcing them to clean up after me. They hang up clothes and fold stuff a lot better than I do, anyway. They must like doing this, or else they wouldn’t work here.
c) I can’t read the “No Food or Drink” sign. I enjoy calling friends on my cell phone while I rip through all the belt loops on these cheap cardigan sweaters and smear chocolate all over the walls. My mate (Gorilla Glenn) has always fantasized about fooling around in a public place. I think this stall will work just fine. I’ll chuck a turd at the girl who works here, and then howl until Glenn finds me.
d) I would never leave a mess. Perish the thought! Those nice girls who work here need more friends like me. After all, there are two apes going at it in the back stall.
e) I’ve already wasted ten minutes of my life in this department store. If I have to waste another ten attempting to re-pin this damn dress shirt, I will start punching things. It’s all my wife’s fault. I told her I didn’t need a new dress shirt.
8) When my children are shopping with me, I…
a) Behave no differently. I tediously pick through every clearance rack while the kids wail idiotic things like “I’m hungry!” and “I need to go potty!” and “I’m tired!” and “I wanna go home!” I drag them into the fitting room with me, screaming at them to shut up. “If you can be quiet while Mommy tries on these fifty outfits,” I tell them, “I’ll let you look at toys when I’m done. I might even drop you off in the toy department, unsupervised, while I go pick out a birthday card for Uncle Jim and a new Homer Simpson Christmas ornament for Daddy!”
b) Find that it’s easier to steal stuff. My kids think it’s normal to leave the store wearing three new shirts and three new pairs of underwear beneath their old clothes. Hey, it’s not my fault that food and pedicures cost so much.
c) Have to bring along extra snacks. I don’t try on clothes when I have my kids with me. I may be a stinky, illiterate ape, but I’m not a moron.
d) Head to the registers as soon as the kids start getting restless, and don’t keep them out past their bedtime.
e) Hang out in the toy department with the kids while Mommy is trying on clothes. These new Star Wars action figures are pretty cool.
9) When I leave my purse, cell phone, keys, or sunglasses in the fitting room, I…
a) Ask the sales associate if she found them. I’m much too important to go back into the fitting room to dig through my own mess. Maybe if I’d hung up all the clothes I tried on, I would’ve seen my cell phone on the ground. Nah. The sales associate will find my phone at the bottom of the heap and return it to me after she’s carefully polished it and bought me a better ring tone.
b) Assume a sales associate or other customer stole them. Hey, if the girl trying on clothes before me left her purse in the fitting room, I’d definitely look through it, at the very least.
c) Assume I ate them accidentally. Time will tell.
d) This has never happened to me. I make sure I haven’t left anything-not a single hanger-in the fitting room before I leave.
e) How would I ever lose personal items in the fitting room? I don’t know where the men’s fitting room is. I know where all the ladies’ fitting rooms are, though (sigh).
10) I think, overall, I’m…
a) A nice person who doesn’t have time to hang up clothes after I’ve tried them on. I always tell the girl who works in the store “I’m sorry” on my way out of the fitting room.
b) A nice person who happens to shoplift and/or leave enormous messes in the fitting room on a regular basis. You think this is bad?! Twenty-one pairs of jeans on the ground?! You should see my house! There are five dead cats buried under the debris in my bedroom. At least five.
c) Better off living in the zoo, although I do enjoy trying on bikinis.
d) Someone who treats others the way I’d like to be treated.
e) Against fitting rooms in general. But I won’t complain when a cute eighteen-year-old female sales associate strolls into the men’s fitting room stall next to mine to clean out the tissue paper on the ground. I wish that sort of thing happened more often.
Fitting Room Intelligence, Etiquette, aNd Decency: Are you a good FRIEND? Let’s find out!
Count up how many times you answered a; then do the same for b, and so on.
Here are your results:
Mostly a’s: Spoiled Child
Mostly b’s: Common Slob/Common Criminal
Mostly c’s: Ape
Mostly d’s: Rare and Beautiful, Courteous and Compassionate Human Being
Mostly e’s: Man
How can I lump Common Slobs and Common Criminals into the same category?! Well, slobs and criminals are equally annoying from my perspective. I actually prefer neat shoplifters to slovenly honest shoppers, if you want the truth, although I do have to fill out paperwork when I recover tags off of stolen merchandise, which is a pain.
A special note to the men reading this: I told you to skip ahead to the end, but if you went ahead with the quiz questions anyway, well, what did you expect to discover? You’re a man. You guys don’t unfold anything and try on next to nothing. You know what you’re looking for when you walk in the store, and if you don’t find it, you don’t continue shopping. You want out of that store even more than the people working there! Men have a reputation for being lazy around the house (it wouldn’t hurt any of you to do the dishes or laundry, you know), but, in my experience, men are generally neat, polite shoppers. In conclusion, if you are a Man, you have passed the F.R.I.E.N.D. test. Now, maybe you can talk your wife or girlfriend into doing her clothes shopping online and leaving my fitting rooms alone.
Good news for all of you poor, Spoiled Children, Common Slobs/Criminals, and Apes out there! It’s easy to improve your score on the F.R.I.E.N.D. scale, assuming you want to become a Rare and Beautiful, Courteous and Compassionate Human Being-indeed, a true “friend” to men and women who have to clean out department store fitting rooms. One easy fix is to take a temporary job in a department store-request the misses’ or juniors’ department-to experience these extreme displays of courtesy and gross indecency firsthand. With the extra cash you earn, plus your associate discount, you common criminals won’t have any excuse to shoplift all your underwear and baby clothes, right? I see people getting caught shoplifting all the time. QUIT STEALING, for crying out loud!
Please remember this article the next time you step into a fitting room, in a hurry, with tons of clothes to try on. You’re not really a spoiled five-year-old, are you? The sales associates do talk about you after you’ve left, you know. How do you keep escaping from the zoo, anyway? Just because I’m not standing there, handing you a number as you walk in to try on your clothes (because few department stores can afford actual fitting room attendants these days), it doesn’t mean I won’t be around to clean up your mess. And I will remember your face. I really wasn’t a serial killer in a past life (at least, I don’t think I was).
Thank you to all of you Rare and Beautiful, Courteous and Compassionate Human Beings. THANK YOU!
Fun Fitting Room Facts
Weirdest personal item I ever found in a fitting room: birth control pills
Grossest items I ever found in a fitting room: Used tampons. A skirt and shirt that a drunk customer had peed on (and then kicked under the bench, of course, so I had no way of knowing they were wet when I first touched them). A pair of jeans that someone had wiped poop on and, again, kicked under the bench. I don’t know if it was dog poop or human poop.
It’s true: A toddler boy once peed directly onto the carpet in the fitting room while I was in there clearing out another stall! His mom was in the room with him. She said nothing to the kid and nothing to me when she left.
It’s also true: I really did talk to the creepy lingerie guy over the phone one day at my store. I didn’t realize he was a pervert until later, when all of my coworkers made fun of me for not hanging up on him. He was very, very interested in thong panties.
The most pairs of pants I ever found in a single fitting room (tried on by a single female customer): 48! She really, really, really, really, really wanted to be a size eight or ten. I don’t know if she actually bought any size-twelve pants or not. I’ve found more than 48 articles of clothing in a single room before, of course. When a group of ten teenagers has been trying on clothes in the same fitting room for the past two hours, I know it’s time to get out the bulldozer and call in reinforcements-unless I’m the only person working in the juniors’ department; in that case, I’m left to cry and curse all alone, and ask myself over and over again why I didn’t become a mortician or vampire. Better pay. Immortality. Sure beats hanging up shirts in a room that smells like sweaty feet.
Oddest shoplifting technique: A girl once used part of a trash bag as a makeshift belt to strap merchandise to her stomach.
Sarcastic Venting (please ignore this): Do you expect me to go out of my way to help you after you’ve left a four-foot-high pile of clothes on the fitting room floor? Good. You should! That’s why I’m wearing the name tag and the cheerful smile! Yes, I’ll give you back your twenty-dollar bill you left on the floor of the fitting room, buried under thirty pounds of disheveled blue jeans (but, really, I thought you meant to leave that for me as a tip). Oh, all right, you can have your cell phone back. I had to extricate it from layer upon layer of sweaty tank top on the fitting room ground, you know. What? I don’t know how your cell phone got wedged in the mannequin’s butt like that.
Lesson of the day: ALWAYS wash clothing you’ve just purchased before wearing it. Trust me. You do NOT know where those clothes have been.