The Case Against Pants

This is a true story. Trigger warning: long wait at the checkout line.

For the sake of protecting the guilty, I shall change some names.

Yesterday, I went to a store to get pants. Let’s call this store JC Lenny’s. I had been to JC Lenny’s previously on Sunday. On Sunday, I had seen a colossal amount of pants on sale, 70% OFF! On Sunday, there were five double-sided twenty foot long racks of pants, over by the escalator. On Sunday, however, I was with my daughter. I made a mental note to come back the next day and shop for pants, alone, so that I could spend some time trying things on. So, yesterday (Monday), I went back to JC Lenny’s and somehow, all of those racks of pants were gone. Just gone.

There seemed to be about as many employees at JC Lenny’s as customers. I found one, moving  a rack of clothing (no pants) and asked her,

“Could you tell me where are the pants?”

But she ran away, hiding behind her rack of clothing! She scurried like a mouse. I chased after her,

“Excuse me! Excuse me! Where are the pants?” The sales girl stopped, trapped. Her eyes darted from side to side.

“They aren’t anywhere. They’re all over. Scattered. I have to tell him. I’m sorry, I have to tell him.”

I didn’t understand.

“So where are the pants?” I asked.

“They aren’t.”

“Aren’t?”

“I’ll tell him. I have to tell him. You’re the fifth person today,” she added.

“The pants aren’t..?”

“No, they aren’t,” she said and she scurried away again.

I decided she was just crazy. I went looking for pants on my own.

I found the women’s pants, lots and lots of pants, but they were all size 1X, 2X, and 3X. I wear a ten. I found another store worker, this one seemingly normal. I decided specificity was the soul of getting what I wanted. I spoke very clearly, as though talking to someone hard of hearing,

“WHERE ARE THE PANTS SIZE TEN?” The woman smiled and said,

“Oh, do you mean dress pants?”

“No! Pants like these,” I said, pointing to my legs, which had pants on them.

“Oh, those are in juniors, other side of the store!” she said.

I walked all the way to the other end of JC Lenny’s, and indeed, I found a rack of pants. Finally! But they were in Juniors sizes, and I don’t know what size I wear in juniors. (At forty-two, I’m hardly a Junior. At this point, however, I had completely given up on finding any medium-sized grown women’s pants. Clearly, at JC Lenny’s, they assumed that as soon as you turned twenty-three, you were a 1X.) So, I tried on twelve pairs of “Juniors” pants. Two of them fit. The two that fit were almost exactly the same style as some pants my nine-year-old daughter wears, but whatever. Pants! I just needed some freakin’ pants!

I went to the check-out with my two pairs of pants. Huzzah! No line! I was triumphant.

“Would you like to get a JC Lenny’s charge card?” the well-dressed clerk asked.

“No.”

“It will save you thirty-two percent today,” she added.

“Oh, well, okay… if it doesn’t take too long.”

“Really?” she said. “Woo hoo! It won’t take long at all.”

“Um,” I was suddenly uncertain, but she was already typing in my license number.

“Shoabawa…?”

I stared at her. Her name tag said, “Mary.” (Not her real name.)

“Shama wa shosh ka…? How do you pronounce your name?”

“Shoshanah Marohn.”

“Ah, shashamah… what a beautiful name!”

I attempted to smile. The time was 1:03 PM. I could see it on her register, which even counted the seconds: 1:03:24… 1:03:25… She had me enter my social security number into a keypad. My birthday. She had me sign. She double checked my address. I don’t know what she was doing and then…

1:07:13 PM “The paper didn’t come out,” she said, “The paper is supposed to come out and then the diddly thing and then I scan it and then… but the paper didn’t come out.”

“That’s okay,” I said. “I’ll just put it on another card.”

“No, no,” she said. “No. We will figure this out.”

“I would like to leave, though,” I said. She looked concerned, only for a moment,

“Are you on your lunch break?”

“Well, I mean, no, but I do want to leave.” She was suddenly not concerned.

“Oh, okay. I will re-enter your name. That might work.”

“Really, I can just pay on another card…”

1:14:27 PM She was saying it again, now, more agitatedly,

“The paper didn’t come out,” she said, “The paper is supposed to come out and then the diddly thing and then I scan it and then… but the paper didn’t come out. I re-entered it and the paper didn’t come out. You see, the paper is supposed to come out.”

“That’s okay,” I said. “I’ll just put it on another card.”

“No, no,” she said. “No. We will figure this out. I will call the LDS.” (What does LDS stand for? She was calling the Latter-Day Saints?) “I will call the LDS.”

“Really, I can just pay on another card…”

“NO! I am calling the LDS.”

At this point, I considered running. Unfortunately, she had my driver’s license. But I could re-apply for one. I mean, I have a passport. But then there was an issue with the soda. I had gotten thirsty and taken a soda from the cooler. I had taken a sip. I only had a ten dollar bill. I had already taken a sip of the soda, so I should really pay for it, and if I ran away they would have all of my information from the credit card application and come after me for that soda I drank and didn’t pay for… I could leave the ten dollars on the table, but that’s really too much for a soda. What could I do? I was trapped.

1:23:01 PM She was typing again.

“The paper didn’t come out,” she said, “The paper is supposed to come out and then the diddly thing and then I scan it and then… but the paper didn’t come out.”

“That’s okay,” I said. “I’ll just put it on another card.”

“No, no,” she said. “No. We will figure this out.”

“Really, I don’t care at all about the credit card. I just want to leave. I need to leave here sometime soon.”

“The LDS is coming,” she said.

Then the LDS came! Hallelujah! But, she just … oh, for the love of God! She did exactly what Mary did, and the LDS said,

“The paper didn’t come out. The paper is supposed to come out and then the diddly thing and then I scan it and then… but the paper didn’t come out.”

“That’s okay,” I said. “I’ll just put it on another card.”

“Just let her put it on another card,” said the LDS. (I love you, LDS., I thought.) “Just give her the discount manually, and let her put it on another card.”

Now, we were getting somewhere! I took out my credit card. The end was in sight! I would escape soon! I took another sip of my soda. Mary was typing in the register again. We were getting places! It was going to all be okay! The LDS was half-way across the store when Mary yelled to her,

“But the paper didn’t come out, the paper is supposed to come out and then the diddly thing and then I scan it and then… but the paper didn’t come out. How do I charge her if the paper didn’t come out?”

The LDS turned around and looked at us, I with my half-drunk Coke trickling out of my mouth in rage, Mary with a pleasant, yet questioning look on her face. My pants, on the counter. Not my pants, yet. Just the pants. Pants living in Purgatory. A no-man’s-land of ownership, where the pants were. There, on the counter in JC Lenny’s.

We’re still there. If you’re going to the mall today, could you drop me off a granola bar and a cup of tea? I would be so grateful. I’m at JC Lenny’s, at the Juniors register.

 

Shoshanah Marohn
Shoshanah Lee Marohn is a writer and illustrator whose books include the recent children's book, "Murgatroyd Buttercups," the almost-best-selling "Birds in Beards Coloring Book," and the notorious "Avoiding Sex with Frenchmen."

6 Comments

  1. Wow. That’s just amazing. Makes for a hilarious story, though.

    And don’t worry about the name. I’m convinced that anyone in retail can and will screw up anyone’s name. Regardless of how easy it is. For example, my mom’s name is Jane, and someone signing her up for something once thought it was ‘Jame.’ She even pronounced it that way.

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