Our eyes met from across the denim table, and in that moment, everything seemed to move in slow motion. I reached for his hand, but I was too late — he was already grabbing the bottom of the pile. Internally I screamed, although I kept my smile plastered on. Hours of work folding Slim Cut Dark Wash FlexFit™ Jeans was about to be ruined.
But instead of knocking over the pile without a care in the world for the corporate-mandated popped crotch, his tough and sturdy hands lifted the stack effortlessly, grabbed the correct size from the bottom of the pile, then replaced the stack with a flourish.
I braced myself against the table, feeling my heart pound and my cheeks grow flushed. I could have watched him handle those Slim Cut Dark Wash FlexFit™ Jeans all night — and in my dreams, I did.
“Excuse me, miss?” His voice was low and gravelly, like a used car engine with a mysterious rattle. I turned to face him. He was holding the men’s Casual Classic Stretch Sport Coat in Brushed Camel, a clear marker of taste and sophistication. I batted my lashes and waited. “Do you have this in a Large?” he continued. “There weren’t any on the shelf, but maybe you have one in the back?”
My heart sank, although I kept my smile plastered on. “No, I’m sorry,” I said. “We don’t have any of those in the back.”
I knew he wasn’t going to believe me. They never do. I was gearing up for another pointless slog to the stock room when he said it, four little words that made my skin electric —
“Oh well. Thanks, anyway.”
My back arched and my mouth watered as he turned to go. I loved to watch him walk away, because he hung his unwanted Casual Classic Stretch Sport Coat in Brushed Camel in its correct spot.
She was next in a long, snaking line, right after the man who insisted I gift-wrap his Roomba despite the twenty or so other customers waiting behind him. As I rang up her OXO GoodGrips Immersion Blender, I couldn’t keep my eyes off her long, delicate fingers thumbing through her wallet. I knew it was wrong, but I ached to be a five dollar bill or a loose receipt, so those fingers could touch me.
But all fantasies come to an end. “Oh shit,” she muttered. “I had a 20% off coupon but I must have left it at home.”
I braced myself for incoming onslaught of begging, for me to just this once, pretty please, can you apply the coupon anyway, I know you could get fired for doing this but wouldn’t you like to do a favor of me, a literal stranger — although I kept my smile plastered on.
But the onslaught never came. She looked up, flashed me a lopsided smile. “I’m such a spaz,” she laughed. “I’ll bring the coupon next time. So what’s the total?”
I felt a surge of release so powerful, it was like the heavens opened and the angels were singing a Beyonce song, just for me.
She emerged from the dressing room cheery if not triumphant. “Find anything you like?” I asked, my smile plastered on as always.
“Not this time,” she replied. “Here’s my rejects.”
She placed a few garments up with the go-backs, and that’s when I saw it: she’d put her unwanted clothes… back on the hangers.
Waves of pleasure, each one more intense than the last, washed over me as I thumbed through garments: each dress was hung, each pant clipped in with both clips, each blouse fitted on a hanger with those annoying string things already taken care of. I was experiencing depths of sensations I didn’t know were possible.
Finally — I saw the sweater. She’d even re-folded the sweater.
I collapsed on the floor of the dressing room, utterly spent.
I’d clocked him when he first joined the customer service line, his salt-and-pepper hair tumbling effortlessly across his eyes. He had a return, he said, a really big one. I bit my lip and took his receipt.
As I scanned the barcode, I realized we had a problem, although I kept my smile plastered on. “Sir, this 4K Ultra 85-inch Smart TV was purchased six months ago. We can’t accept a return.”
I expected him to scream, demand to speak to the manager, and after half-an-hour of arguing, begrudgingly accept store credit. Instead, he nodded. “Should have got around to it sooner, I guess,” he said.
I melted. “Sorry about that.”
He shrugged. “Why? It’s not your fault.”
I fucked him in the break room.