In my 3rd year of college, I took a full-time position at Express clothing store because I’m a hard-working hot mess! Just months into it and I’m promoted to Assistant Manager at the Kingsdale branch. It was in a good part of town, had few shoplifters and the store was small. Needless to say, I killed it.
9 months later I was promoted again.
It was bittersweet this time. One day I walked in to find my manager had CONGRATULATION balloons and a little cake waiting for me.
“Congratulations! You’ve been promoted to…..Northland!”
My smile turned to hesitation.
“Northland?” I asked, slowly flipping out inside.
She detected the worry. “I know it’s a tougher market but you’ve worked there before and you’re gonna do great!”
Northland in its hay day was the best mall in Columbus, Ohio. Over the years however, gangs had entered nearby and before you know it, you felt like you were shopping in war-torn Croatia or something. My sister was already working at the Foot Locker there and had already been on lock down because of a gun shot in the mall. It was more money and closer to my apartment but I knew it was going to suck.
The Express store I was going to was HUGE! It was originally a prototype store and decorated funkier than most. You could enter from outside or enter from the mall. In the center of the store were the cash registers or what they call in the retail industry, the wrap desk. Behind the wrap desk was an elevated shopping area, accessible by steps. In addition to the cabinet of fashion and racks of clothing displayed, this is also where 5 fitting rooms resided.
We had a very faithful mall cop that worked Friday through Sunday. His name was Jim and I always felt safer knowing he was there, should interactions get out of hand as they often did.
One Friday night about an hour before closing, Jim alerted us he was stepping outside for some fresh air. This was odd as Jim NEVER took breaks so we were all for him taking five. I was busily putting the finishing touches on a beautiful spa display in front of the wrap desk. It had all sorts of bath salts, lotions and everything you needed to have a magical spa experience. I questioned why a fashion brand would be dipping their toes into the spa world but being paid $18,100 annually, that was above my pay grade to question. Next I walked up onto the platform to begin the shitty task of spacing out every single hanger. Just then I heard someone begin to yell.
“You know you ain’s spose’ to be here!”
“I don’t give a fuck what chu’ think!”
“How you gone do this bitch!”
I look over the cabinets to see 5 girls confronting each other. Eventually all of them were screaming at each other at the same time and I could no longer understand what was being said as it was an orchestra of high-pitched insults and squeals.
Then it happened. I heard a glass break and the swoosh of a thousand little particles rolling like a wave onto the wood floor. Then another, and another. I look back up to see that they are throwing the bath salt jars at each other.
When the bath salts were exhausted one pulls the other hair while her friend begins to bitch slap the other. There is a brawl and I’m somewhat in shock. I duck down and tip-toe to the other set of stairs closer to the entrance. I hunch down and run outside to find Jim.
Jim is sitting on a bench enjoying his few minutes of serenity when I come running up.
“Jim!” I scream. “There’s a fight! Inside the store! There throwing stuff! Oh my God! Oh my God!”
Jim jumps up and races inside, seconds later he has all 5 girls subdued and calling for I don’t know….back up?
When it was all said and done here is what I found all over the floor, I shit you not:
- bath salts
- hair extensions
- fake nails
- fake gold
At best, I got a chuckle from all of the things I found. When I ask Jim what the fight was over he said 2 of the girls crossed each other paths tonight and it just happened to be in my store. Each had a child from the same father and obviously that didn’t sit well with either. I can’t remember if the girls were arrested or what but that is when I knew I needed to get the fuck out of that nightmare. Several months later, I moved to corporate Express. Thank the baby Jesus!