Tie Died

Manhattan, 1972. Retail shopping CRUSH-week between Christmas and New Years and every New Yorker thought it his Constitutional Right to exchange every doofus clothing item he got for Christmas – or thought he got for Christmas – or got for Christmas around 1965.

I worked in Barneys, the World’s Largest Mens’ store and the cacophony of customer craziness was mind numbing. “Sir!”, “Sir!”, “Sir!”, “Pardon me, Sir!” “Sir!”, “Excuse me. May I get some service here?” “Sir!”,“Sir!”, “Sir!”,”Hey, Sir!” “Sir!”,“Sir!”,“Sir!”.

I think I can speak for the majority of the 1st Floor Sales Team when I say we hated them – hated every goddamn one of them who waved a crumbled Barney’s sales receipt at us. There were thousands of them – pushing, pleading, whining, yelling, DEMANDING!

(The 1st Floor Team had a little pool going to see which one of us would S-n-a-p! first. I was the odds-on favorite.  I was already demoted from sweaters to ties for being rude to customers.)

Working in the tie department was a nightmare! Barneys advertised that they had 100,000 different ties. I never counted them but I must have folded that many at least once a day. There were racks of ties – tables of ties – walls of ties – cases of ties – ties everywhere.

It was about 9:40 pm – 20-minutes until closing – and the crowd had gone. I was exhausted and not exactly in a chipper Barneys mood. I was just mindlessly folding ties on the counter – minding my own business – when this businessman walks over.

“Uh, Sir,” he says, “I don’t see the tie I want here.” SNN…..

I slowly and painfully looked up. “Mister, we carry over 100,000 ties. I’m sure it’s here somewhere.”

“Nope. I looked.” SNNNA….

“Well, Sir, if you looked and didn’t find it, we must not have it. I’m sorry.” And then I started refolding my pile of ties. “Would you GO AWAY,” I thought, “JUST GO AWAY!”

“Well do you have any more ties in the back?” SNNNAAAAAPPPPPPP!

“The ties in the back? No – those are our really good ties. We save those for ourselves. We don’t even have to pay for them – and they’re great ties – but you can’t buy one. Sorry.”

“Are you being smart with me? I pay your salary, you know!”

“Really? Great. Can I have a raise?”

“I’d like to see your manager. NOW!”

“Oh sure, I’ll get him. He’s in the back with the good ties.”

I walked to the back of the store and kept on walking. The A-train stop was only half a block away. I never even bothered to go back for my paycheck.

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