i’m an outlaw

You know how people are always saying crazy phrases that don’t make any sense at all? Like “I froze my ass off”? Well I literally ran my tits off. My working out has made sense of a non sequitur idiom. I’m not bragging about my breasts previously known as large – trust me, I don’t find that to be an asset. I was banished to department store basements looking for my grotesquely large cup size. I mean, Heidi Montag and I were only one letter apart at my largest. I don’t know why she did it – I would get mine reduced, but why enlarged? I guess she can afford custom-made bras. I guess she doesn’t run and doesn’t care about her posture or her back or have kids to lift. I guess she actually welcomes the attention of creepy men who look just at your breasts without ever looking at you. Me?  I am happy to be able to now go to a regular store and buy a bra. There’s a Meghan Trainor song that says something like, “we all want to be different, that’s what makes us all the same.” Well, in the case of my bra size, I just wanted to be the same.

So of course, this meant I needed to go bra shopping. I’ve read that 80% of women wear the wrong bra size and I knowingly have been up until this shopping trip. I know what measurements said would be my size, but you really can’t buy a bra and expect it to fit without trying it on. And no way in hell was I doing this with my two little boys in tow. I can picture it now: them crawling underneath dressing room partitions, knocking over clothing racks (yes, my siblings and I did those things as children).

Since I was out on a rare shopping excursion sans kids, I decided to do a return. I have some jeans that are a double digit size from the time between Brandon’s birth and Holden’s pregnancy. There was a time when I determined not to wear maternity jeans anymore. Obviously I never stuck to it because they have the tags still attached. I knew if anyone could get store credit out of them, it would be me. These jeans are years old, but I’ll manage it. I believe exchanges and returns are a bit of an art form. It’s a gift that I have; I just have a knack for it. I get an odd thrill from getting something back from a store when I shouldn’t per their return policy. I’m an outlaw, really. Just a white-collar outlaw.

I have never met anyone who shares my love of exchanging and returning. It makes people jittery, nervous. They end up hanging onto new things they’ll never use just to avoid the whole rigamarole. Well just return the shit already! You have money sitting in your house. Money you spent. It’s time to reclaim it! So here’s how to do it. First thing is to scope out the cashier options. Just casually walk by and look for the right kind of person. I used to go for older cashiers, thinking they can’t see very well. This was a strategy I employed when returning slightly used items. I thought their older eyesight would neglect to find shrunken pant legs, tags taped back on oh so carefully, but also obviously if you take a good look. That was my first mistake. The older cashiers take their sweet ass time. And glasses correct vision problems, for Chrissakes (yes, she has glasses! They were just hanging on a chain when you walked by originally). I don’t know what I was thinking. They are usually too hardened from years of bitchy shoppers returning things the wrong way that they don’t want to help you. They will find a way to deny your return.

So what you want to find is a cashier with hustle. Someone who is relatively new to the retail world and still cares about customer service (but not brand new! They will call over a manager! You don’t want that) but also takes pride in never needing to ask for help. Once you’re at the register, be polite and relatable. This is the mistake most people make. They are frantic and pissed from doing the return in the first place and it transfers over to the cashier quickly. Just remember: you get what you give. Yesterday I found a bossy young man with Ray Ban glasses who wriggled his way into a situation to offer his expertise. I wouldn’t have normally even tried this, but since I observed his behavior, I asked (very sweetly and naively of course) if this coupon would apply to my purchase (I totally knew it shouldn’t – my item was clearanced). He scanned the bar code, frowned that it didn’t work, then just punched in some manual discount code. When I asked him about them being busy (find something they can talk to you about! It will distract them and make them like you – everyone likes someone who allows them to talk about their interests), he told me how much their store did in sales that week. It seemed like proprietary information that a mere customer shouldn’t have, but for that moment, I was his confidant, his friend.

Then I got to the store with the return. Keep in mind, these jeans are years old without an original receipt. I found another young man, this time training a new cashier (jackpot! That means not a manager, but a good worker that definitely isn’t going to ask a manager for help with someone watching him). He asked if there was anything wrong with them (the dreaded question most shoppers blurt out something stupid at). I smiled at him and told him, “no, nothing wrong with them, they’ve never been worn, I just lost so much weight that they won’t fit anymore.”
“Good for you!” he congratulated. For a second, I was a Biggest Loser contestant and he was a fan of the show, proud of my hard work. We bonded instantly. He gave me much more than I originally paid as store credit with which I bought a black blazer and still have a gift card left over.

I came home and relayed my retail successes to Steve, who listened with mild interest (oh, you also got the $10 gift card with our Target receipt from earlier today when you forgot the coupon? Nice!)
I might take even more pride in my returning abilities, now that it is my only method of making money. Not long ago I returned a broken bubble maker toy (never buy those! They never work!) without any bubbles left in the canister, the whole assemblage barely held together with too much packing tape. “I can’t believe it worked!” I exclaimed. Like I said earlier, I’m an outlaw, really. Just not in the bad ass Jesse James kind of way.

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