Is It My Imagination Or Was The News Less Awful This Week? A Friday Chat

Featuring summer jobs, pants, cargo shorts, and more

ESTER: It’s August! The constant drumbeat of bad news is … getting softer? Seems like everyone’s back to arguing about cargo shorts, as per usual. Even if it’s temporary, what a relief.

NICOLE: I’m not sure this week has been completely free of bad news.

But yes, we did spend a lot of time this week discussing cargo shorts.

ESTER: Here is my parade, okay? And here you are, raining on it. Of course there was bad news, there’s always bad news these days, it’s just that it seemed slightly less oppressive this week than in previous ones. Coming out of this week, I feel a bit less like a diver emerging from the depths and trying not to get the bends.

My favorite detail in the (original) cargo pants story is that Neiman Marcus sells a pair for about $1000.

NICOLE: Of course it does. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this somewhere before, but I used to work at Neiman Marcus. For, like, three weeks. Then I quit to become a telemarketer, because that seemed better.

ESTER: Oh man, tough call. (GET IT?) No, really, I can’t decide which would be worse. Do you remember in the movie Brooklyn, where the main character is working at the counter of a fancy department store and she’s so sad that her boss, played by Megan from “Mad Men,” has to ask her if it’s that time of the month? I feel like if I worked at Neiman Marcus my boss would be asking me that about once a day.


NICOLE: It was a really weird job, and I’m not sure how much of it was weird because it was Neiman Marcus and how much of it was weird because I was unfamiliar with Big Retail. I had worked retail before, but it was a Wild Birds Unlimited in a small town. Big Retail has a lot of rules, and they said some things going in, like “we work bankers’ hours,” that turned out not to be true at all.

Also they didn’t let women wear pants. Dresses or suits only.

But yeah, I was in the returns section, and I would process sacks and sacks of returns from people’s personal shoppers. They’d buy a bunch of clothes, the person for whom they were shopping would try them on, and then they’d bring 90 percent of the stuff back.

ESTER: Wait, like the pre-1973 White House? You weren’t allowed to wear pants?

NICOLE: Nope. I showed up on my first day wearing a blue and white striped Oxford with gray trousers and they were like, “You are inappropriately dressed.” Then they told me they forgot to tell me the dress code, so it wasn’t completely my fault.

ESTER: You must have felt awful! I hope Sasha has an easier time.

Although I’m really heartened that she took a food service job, despite what I’m sure will be the myriad inconveniences that come from being the daughter of the President working in a public restaurant where anyone can observe / video / write about her. Our readers — as well as Ask a Manager and BusinessLady — must all be smiling and nodding at her.

We would also have accepted picking cherries.

NICOLE: I am curious whether it was her idea or her parents’ idea or a little of both.

ESTER: Well, I can definitely understand wanting to get out of DC for the summer. Maybe she wanted to feel like a normal teenager for a change. It’s sort of Prince and the Pauper-ish, although she’ll also get to earn something. I wonder what her allowance situation has been up ’til now! I’d love to know how the First Daughters do money. Do their parents call Ron Lieber and ask him for advice?

NICOLE: People Magazine says that the Obama daughters receive $1 a week, but that was back in 2008, while Obama was still campaigning.

ESTER: One dollar a week? That’s even more of a throwback than your not being able to wear pants to your place of business.

NICOLE: Yeah, and it suggests the Obama daughters are getting other things paid for, right? Like movies or whatever? Or do they never go to the movies with their friends? Do kids even do that anymore?

ESTER: They must, or this sorry world isn’t worth saving. There were definitely groups of friends at the screening of Ghostbusters I was at.

NICOLE: Good, because I’d hate to think that the only things young people were doing these days involved creating their own streaming media. Or building stuff on Minecraft, or catching Pokémon. Did you read that article about the 13-year-old lip-sync stars who were making all kinds of money on

ESTER: No! I like how these chats are becoming the Billfold version of a Link Roundup tho.

NICOLE: Me too. I would read The Toast’s Link Roundup every morning. Like, first thing.

ESTER: I miss it. That must be one of the main reasons this summer seems so sad.

NICOLE: The Establishment is doing a lot of really good work, and Mallory was “recapping the DNC” on Medium, so I still feel like I’m getting feminism+social justice+surreal humor. But yeah, I still miss that warm piece of Toast every morning.

ESTER: Yeah, totally. Well … at least there’s always the Onion.

NICOLE: There’s always the Onion.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.