From Amanda Kennedy, December 2009:
Having been in retail for the greater part of the past ten years, there is something I've come to realize. Every store has one specific customer-that one - who is known to every salesperson, manager, district manager, and corporate office in the company. And I can guarantee it's not because that one customer is sweet or likes to compliment the staff.
In my old store, her name was Anastasia.
I worked at a Macy's for 6 years, starting as a part timer in clothing and finishing as a counter manager in cosmetics. Truthfully, the customers weren't usually the bad part of the job. When I started, the company had a "thankful you just showed up" attitude. Somewhere along the line it became a "life comes after work" sort of job.
But this story isn't about the tyrannical thumb of Mr. Macy, it's about Anastasia.
Her real name wasn't Anastasia. I don't remember what it was, but Anastasia was a moniker she had taken some years ago. She was a thin woman with a high forehead and a bad wig. She wore baggy clothes, gaudy jewelry, and false eyelashes that looked as though they might fall off at any second. She walked around like she could afford to look that bad, because she was so important that it didn't matter what she wore.
But one didn't notice the clothes, the hair, or the attitude first.
What one noticed were the two inch fingernails growing like tree branches from her fingers. Most women with nails that long have some sort of flashy, acrylic design, but not Anastasia. Hers were brown, ratty and 100% her own.
Working at one of the prestige counters in the store, I saw her often. She had the same attitude that a lot of cosmetic customers have, in that they demand something free for every purchase. Anastasia was a bit different in that she demanded something free simply because she existed.
Few counters at my store were safe from her. Anytime a gift, sample, or deluxe travel size was advertised, she'd demand that it be given to her, without purchase, because she was a valued Macy's customer.
The smart girls were the ones who fought with her, because she'd never return. I gave in once and called a manager for her, and she took an immediate liking to me and I had to suffer listening to her bitch about how rude the other girls in the department were.
She'd sit in one of my make-up chairs, cocking her head to the side and pointing her finger upward. "Don't they know who I am", she'd say, "Don't they know that I know the store manager and can have them fired in a heartbeat?"
For some reason, she never minded when I was up front and honest with her about why I couldn't just give her things, and every once in a while she'd buy something. (Of course, she returned it later, but that's another story)
One year she brought Christmas presents for all of her favorite Macy's employees.
She brought me a bottle of cheap wine, a wine glass, and a box in which to put said wine. I don't drink wine, and I think that bottle's still in my cupboard somewhere. Nonetheless, I thought it was a nice gesture.
That is, until she loudly told me (so everyone in the department could hear) that the reason I got a gift and other people didn't is because they were all rude to her.
Apparently, she was trying to win the affections of the people with free samples by doling out cheap gifts. I later took the wine box home and realized that it had a tag from Marshalls.
How often was this happening?
Was she buying gifts at Target to give to people at Marshalls, and so on?
I left Macy's a few months after that, and I think that the worst thing she ever did happened after I quit.
My best friend (who also happened to be one of her favorite employees) worked at the jewelry counter. Since I wasn't there, I can't tell you what happened verbatim, but I can give you a pretty good rundown.
My friend was working at her counter when Anastasia came up to her and said that she'd broken a nail and wanted to know if my friend had seen it.
My friend politely told her that she hadn't.
Anastasia then told her to call her if she saw it, but not to worry too much because she had a box of fingernails at home and she'd just glue an old one on.
This crazy lady kept her broken fingernails in a box just in case one broke.