An except from The Lingerie Diaries. Originally from my journal, October 2010. Listen to it here: How to steal a thong (NSFW). Or just read the following…
Every quarter, Victoria’s Secret hires an outside corporation to come in and scan every item in the store. This, they tell me, determines the amount of shrink we’ve experienced in the past couple months, as well as which items were targeted most, and which areas associates should keep a close eye on. Last quarter it was lip gloss; this quarter will probably be the same, as “Lip gloss likes to walk,” the store manager says. As if it had a mind and legs of its own.
Because they’re obtrusive, inventories always take place after business hours, when there’s no threat of interfering with sales. There’s also a lesser threat, then, of someone getting knifed. The team that comes in is a rough looking bunch, both a testament to staying in school and staying out of a state penitentiary. With tattoos covering their arms and necks, teeth missing, and cigarette-stained fingers, I imagine these people go home each night to life that resembles a Gretchen Wilson music video.
“Why’d you bring me this shit?” a wife would say, holding a baby in one arm and a thong in the other. “We can get the same damn thing at Wal Mart for three dollars. Bring it back ya damned fool. And while you’re at it, heat up a bottle for Bobbie Jo; she’s cravin’ the teat again.”
These people, I assume, are the reason that Victoria’s Secret also hires a security guard to watch over the process. Though, I would hardly describe the woman they brought in as a security guard. Wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt, her only proof of authority was a navy ball cap bearing the word “SECURITY” across the front of it in bright yellow letters. When she proceeded to unfold a camping chair, pull out a laptop, and begin watching an episode of The West Wing, I lost all faith.
“Looks like the store’s in good hands tonight,” I said to my manager.
“Yeah, really,” she said, “jeez.”
The next day, I was clocking-in when, looking exhausted, Allison emerged from the back.
“So,” I said, “How’d it go?”
As the backroom manager, she’d been required to stay late and oversee the the whole process.
“Not bad,” she said. “We got out at one, which is pretty good when these things can last till three. I’m just tired because I had to be here again at six this morning.”
“That sucks,” I said.
“Yeah, it does, but oh well! One more hour and I’m out of here!”
She began speaking into her headset, responding to a question, when she grabbed my arm. Her eyes were wild.
“Oh my gosh, I almost forgot to tell you!”
“What?” I said.
“Ok, so you know how there was a security guard here last night?”
“Ok, well she wanted to go buy a Coke from the machine, so I said, ‘That’s fine; lemme just check your bag before you go.’ But when I said that, her face dropped and she said to me, ‘Do you have to?’ And I’m thinking Do I have to? YES I HAVE TO! So I explain to her that we have to check everybody’s bag before they leave the store, that it’s company policy. So she looks at me, frowning, and hands me her bag. And I’m thinking, Oh my god, what has the security guard stolen? THE SECURITY GUARD–OH MY GOD. So I open her purse, and sitting there, right on top is a BIG. BLACK. DILDO. A DILDO!”
“Are you sure it was a dildo?” I said. “Maybe it was just her billy club, or a flashlight, or something.”
“No,” she said, “it was veiny.”
“But why the hell would she have a dildo in her purse, in Victoria’s Secret, when she’s working?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “And I don’t want to know.”
“Well, ok, so what did you do?”
“What do you think I did? I closed the bag and told her she was good to go.”
“You told her she was good to go? You didn’t even check the bag?”
“No, I didn’t check the bag!”
“But what if she actually stole something?” I said. “What if that was all part of her plan? Stuff some bras and panties in the bottom of the bag, then use a big, black dildo to discourage you from searching it.”
“Well, then her plan worked perfectly because there was NO WAY I was touching that thing. It was seriously, like, eight inches long.”
She held up her hands in front of her to reinforce the length.
“I’m not saying you should have grabbed it and shaken it like a maraca,” I said. “All you had to do was push it to the side, out of the way.”
“But that’d still mean I’d have to touch it.”
“Ok, then grab a pen. Grab two pens. Use one push it to the side and hold it there, and use the other to pry through the bag.”
“Oh my gosh, you’re ridiculous.”
“No, I’m serious. You may have just lost the company hundreds of dollars because you were afraid of touching someone’s dildo.”
“Get out of here,” she said. “Go do some work.”
“I’m serious!” I said. “Completely serious!”
“Yeah,” she said, “well so am I.”
And that’s how you steal a thong.