I went into retail straight out of high school. I stayed in that horrid industry for the next 14 years. During that time I witnessed copious amounts of stupidity. Sometimes, not surprisingly, that stupidity was my own.
Not long after I started working for the largest retail chain in the world (AKA The Mecca – shout out to Evil Squirrel), I was deemed trustworthy enough to run an entire department. By myself. Obviously these guys didn’t know that I could barely keep my room organized, balance a checkbook, or put my shoes on the correct feet and they were going to give me an entire department to run? I guess my hard work, dedication, and massive intelligence duly impressed the management team. Or, as is more likely, I was the best of a plethora of unqualified candidates.
I was given the keys to the automotive department (get it? ha!), which would have been great if I had known the first thing about cars. At that point in my life the only thing I could successfully do to a car was fill it with gas and turn the ignition switch. Oh, and wreck it. I didn’t know the first thing about routine maintenance, car audio, or even how to properly apply a fresh coat of Turtle Wax®. I was, quite frankly, ill-equipped to perform this job. Luckily I’m a quick learner and within a couple of months I could adequately answer questions about the products we carried.
During those first couple of months, however, there were some growing pains. Not long after I accepted the position I was out on the sales floor placing orders for motor oil when a tall gentleman dressed simply in a flannel shirt and a pair of worn blue jeans approached me with an inquiry. “Do you guys carry bras?”
Of course we carry bras, you dolt, this is the largest retail chain in the world. We carry everything! We have an entire lingerie department!
I was befuddled by the man’s question. I mean, I could answer it, but I wasn’t sure why he was asking me. In the motor oil aisle of all places. Shouldn’t he be asking someone in the apparel department? You know, where the clothes are? Where the underwear is? Furthermore, why is this man shopping for bras? Is he a cross-dresser? Am I in the presence of a weirdo?
Doing my best not to convey what an idiot I thought this man was with my tone, I timidly responded. “Yes, we carry bras, but they’re over in the lingerie department. . .”
He chuckled. “No, not those bras.”
I was stumped. What other kind of bras are there? What kind of ass have I just made of myself?
“I meant car bras,” he explained.
The utterly bewildered expression on my face must have betrayed the fact that I had absolutely no freakin’ clue what he was talking about because he continued. “You know, the things that go over the front of a car? Over the headlights?”
Somewhere deep in my cavernous mind a light bulb flickered to life. I finally knew what he was talking about. I immediately began wondering why in the hell they’re called bras. What a dumb name for something that goes on a car. Then, the ardent shame of embarrassment began burning my cheeks and I very swiftly told him that, no, we don’t carry those kind of bras.
I then vanished as quickly as I could manage so that no one else could see my crimson cheeks or learn what I had just so ignorantly done.
Sadly, after having learned what a car bra was, I was never asked that question again as long as I worked there, which is just how my luck goes.