Inventory (An excerpt from “The Lingerie Diaries”)

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,” Dinner Table 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. “You know we can get the same damn thing at Wal Mart for three dollars. Bring it back. 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 who came in last night 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 The Cougar.

“Yeah, really,” she said, “jeez.”

I was clocking-in this afternoon when, looking exhausted, The Wizard emerged from the back.

“So,” I said, “How’d it go?”

As the backroom manager, she’d been required to stay late last night and oversee the inventory.

“Not bad,” she said. “We got out at one, which is pretty good. I’m just tired because I had to be here again at 6 this morning.”

“That sucks,” I said.

“Yeah, it does, but oh well! One more hour and I’m done for the day!”

She began speaking into her headset, responding to a question, when she grabbed my arm.

“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?”

“Yeah.”

“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. 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 something.”

“No,” she said, “it was veiny.”

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