Archive | Philosophy RSS feed for this section

Stupid Sephora (Updated!)

22 Jan

January 22, 2016

sephora logo

I went to the Brooklyn NY Sephora store, located on Court Street. Sephora is a high-end makeup shop. I used to work in that area, but the store wasn’t there back then. Now I like wearing rouge and lipstick drinking beer and watching football as much as the next guy, but I’ve never been in any Sephora, anywhere, at any time. This was not my lucky day.

Beer and football. I totally meant beer and football.

Anyway, I went with Saarah to return something or other. A spray bottle of something that I think goes on your face after you apply the makeup to help it set. Makeup needs to set? News to me. I usually just apply some eyeliner and go. NO! I mean drink beer and watch football.

Saarah and I went in around 6:30 and it was pretty crowded, or so I thought. Saarah told me that it was actually empty compared to how it usually is. After some quick browsing we went to the counter to make the return. Saarah had been here before and wasn’t happy with the service. The associates know nearly nothing about their products but they know enough to push whichever brand they are getting paid to push.

SAARAH: I’m looking for something that hasn’t been tested on animals and doesn’t contain animal products.
TYPICAL SEPHORA ASSOCIATE: You should totally try this brand! It’s called “Bleeding Baby Sheep” and it’ll look awesome on you!
SAARAH: The label says “contains deer blood and puppy tears.” The label has a picture of a kangaroo with syringes in its eyeballs.

Anyway, with low expectations, we went to the register and were helped by an associate who shall remain nameless, not because I want to protect her identity, but because she wasn’t wearing a name tag. We ended up at this particular associate’s register because she called us over with a flat “next client.” Ever see the dull, glassy eyed folks behind the counter at the DMV? I’d have preferred one of them.

Saarah took out her return and put it and her receipt on the counter and said “I’d like to return this.” The cashier (I won’t call her an associate) said in a very, very nasty way “did you use it?” She said it as though we were trying to return a stained pair of underwear. Saarah said “no (the clear bottle was clearly full) and I have the receipt.”

The cashier never smiled, never said hi, and had a very nasty tone and looked at us with a frown the whole time. Was it because of me? Did she not like Saarah? A combination of both? Don’t know.

And don’t say she was having a bad day because in the middle of snarling at us, she looked over at the woman at the register next to us, and suddenly she lit up, smiled a huge smile, and said “oh my god I love your hat!” It was all sunshine and rainbows! Then she wiped the smile off her face and went back to sneering at us. She made the return, never said thanks or goodbye, and we walked away.

I was pissed and before I took three steps, said loudly to Saarah and within five feet of at least three associates “Damn she was nasty!” Saarah and I both kept complaining as we left the store.


After we walked out, we saw though the window someone who may or may not have been a manager. He was also not wearing a name tag, but he was wearing a nicer shirt than anyone else so we took a chance. Turned out he was an assistant manager. Good enough for us.

Saarah explained that she made a return and the cashier was nasty and rude.

And that is where everything turned sideways.


The manager had zero idea of what good customer service is. He started with the always wrong “what do you want me to do?” and then started asking totally ridiculous and irrelevant questions. The conversation went into odd directions. For example, the manager asked about Saarah getting makeovers, how often she redeemed coupons on the internet, what other stores she shopped at, even a long discussion of an associate who once helped Saarah but has since left.

My head was spinning like I was watching a strange 60’s pot cartoon.

At some points he was arguing with us. “Well, she had to ask if it was used.” The problem was not what she said, but the rude and nasty way she said it. (Saarah made this point over and over.) It was like the cashier thought we were mole people.

Saarah is not one to be led or pushed around, but even she was falling down this man’s weird rabbit hole. At one point the manager implied she only shopped twice a year and therefore was not deserving of good service. When Saarah said she was offered a free makeover but turned it down due to the bad service last time, the manager started implying that she wasn’t a good customer, that this was all her fault for not shopping there enough.

Saarah whipped out her Sephora VIP card and told her where she worked to intimidate him. It worked. He said “Let’s start over. My name is Gerald (Thanks for the correction, Saarah.) and stuck out his hand. Saarah shook it. Now the guy started off not too badly but defensively. At least he was almost on-topic. “Well I can only advise the associates. I can’t stand behind them.”

I was getting angry too. Remember, Saarah made the return, but I was right there with her and got the brunt of some of the glares and caught shrapnel from the cashier’s sharp attitude.

Around the point where the manager was talking about “but you said you shopped at other stores too” I took a step between them and said “I think we’ve gotten too far afield.” (I wanted to say “you’re an asshat tool” but I refrained. “The problem is that the cashier was rude and gave us poor service.”

I was a little loud and aggressive. He took a step back and, after a stutter or two, said something totally not helpful. Saarah asked his name again, simply to make the point that neither he nor the cashier were wearing name tags and that if he worked for her company, he could be fired. More stutters.

After an eternity that lasted at least six hours (four minutes, tops) we left with zero confidence that Gerald the assistant manager had the ability manage a dispute between a fly and a piece of stale bread.

So I will have to get my rouge and lipstick drink beer and watch football somewhere else.


And it keeps on going. This is Saarah’s story of her crazy Sephora experiences. She tells everything that led up to this nonsense:

You should also follow her blog Rants of a Brooklynite simply because it is that good.


Meanwhile, things got crazy on Twitter today. I was one of Sephora’s top tweets today! Too bad for them, as Saarah and I were blasting them all morning. I’ll be posting another blog about that craziness soon.




The Christmas Spirit

24 Dec

December 24, 2015

From December 1, 2014


She never wore shoes at home.

Neither did her three children or their father, who only showed up every few days when he needed money. He may have left her with a broken heart, three mouths to feed and a stack of bills, but even he left his shoes outside the door.

It wasn’t that she loved being barefoot. Oh no, during this time of year she wore all four of her pairs of socks and even her not-so-good pair of stockings (the pair with the holes in the heels) to keep out the cold.

The problem was that shoes brought in dirt. Mud. Gum. Cigarette butts stuck to the bottom. They scuffed floors and sullied carpets.

She spent all day cleaning floors at work and sure as the sun shone in the sky, she wasn’t going to spend her time at home doing the same.

She worked nights. During the day she stayed home taking care of her family and at night when the little ones were in bed she trusted the older one (who was not long past being a little one herself) to watch them so she could earn some money so breakfast could be waiting when they woke up.

Winter was her good time of year. The work was harder, the floors were always wet from melting snow tracked in by, yes, shoes, and no, it usually wasn’t clean. This was not the best part of the city, after all.  But what made it good was yet to come. Christmas. And that meant tips from the people who rented the offices she cleaned every night.

Most of those people she saw only in passing. They were usually going out as she was coming in. Locking their doors as she was unpacking her box of cleaning rags and sprays.

“Hello, um, Miss! Sorry about the coffee stain near the desk!”
“That’s ok, I’ll get it out.”
“Merry Christmas, um…”
“Merry Christmas to you too, sir.”

Some people she never saw. The offices of Tick + Hansom (she wasn’t sure what they did) closed at 4:00, long before she got to work. There were a pair of adjoining offices on the fifth floor that she didn’t have a master key for. There was no name on either  door and she wasn’t completely sure they were occupied, but once in a while the shades would be pulled on the frosted glass door windows so something was going on in there.

She also never saw the man who rented the small two-room office on the fourth floor, and though he always kept the light in the office burning, it was empty when she went in. It was also usually clean, so either he or his secretary kept it neat. At least she assumed he had a secretary. The small desk that she guessed the secretary would sit at never had more than a magazine on it.

She cleaned their floors, emptied their trash cans, mopped their hallways and wiped their windows. She didn’t peek in their drawers or go through their papers. If there was an open file cabinet she left it open and untouched. If the jeweler on three had left a bauble on his desk it would still be there in the morning, shining away in the morning light.

She cleaned up spilled liquor and spilled blood. She turned a blind eye to the lawyer who was “deposing” a pretty young client late one night.

She didn’t even eat her dinner at an empty desk, instead spreading her thin meal out on a clean box she kept in “her office,” the janitor’s closet.

Tonight was an easy night. It was only a few days before Christmas and most of the offices had closed early or hadn’t opened at all. The trash cans were empty, the windows unsmudged, the floors more or less free of heel scuffs. Overall, she was going to have a good sleep when she got home, a rare one where her back wouldn’t ache.

By the time she got to the office with the perpetually burning light, she was a good way ahead of schedule and was feeling hopeful that she could be home early enough to get an almost decently long sleep.

She took out her master key, put it in the lock, but the door swung open before she could turn it. Curious, she stepped inside and saw nothing unusual but noticed that the door to the inner office was ajar. Leaving her cleaning cart in the hallway, she went inside.

On a shabby couch, looking like he’d fallen off his sled, was Santa Claus.

She stood there for a moment. Santa’s suit was torn at the collar, his white wig had twigs sticking out at odd angles, his Santa hat was missing, and his beard was over his nose and completely covering his left eye. (The right eye appeared to be black and blue but that was none of her business.)

She wanted to ask if he was OK, she was about to, when Santa groaned and sat up, not much, but a little straighter. He looked at his watch, saw it wasn’t there, then squinted at the clock through his bruised and starting to swell eye. “What time is it?”

She gave a little, startled jump, then looked at the clock and answered “almost 1 in the morning.”

Santa squinted at her, then straightened his beard and looked at her through his now-uncovered left eye. “That’s it? Usually the parties in my head don’t start thumping like that until 3. They better watch out or they’re going to get raided.” He gingerly took off his wig and even more gingerly started to rub the back of his head. “Do me a favor, sweetheart. Take a look back there. Tell me if it’s as bad as it feels.”

Slowly, she moved just close enough to him to see and leaned over. “Well, not too bad…” She leaned back, but the look on her face didn’t reassure him.

He looked at her. She looked at him. He was an odd sight. Short dark hair and a thick white Santa beard. “That bump feels about the size of Patton’s ego.”

She shuffled a little. “Maybe you should call a doctor?”

He took a deep breath. “I’ve had worse.” He shifted a bit on the couch, then an odd look crossed his face. He patted his red jacket and reached into a pocket. His voice changed, a cross between surprise and anger. “They don’t really think…” He trailed off as he pulled out a very thick wad of bills.

She looked away. This did not interest her. She did not want it to interest her.

The man in the Santa suit jumped up. He swayed a little, but his face (what could be seen behind the beard) was set. “He really thinks this will work.”

She looked around the office. It was old. It needed paint. There were two chairs against the wall and one of them looked ready to fall apart. She was sure this man could use the money, just like she could.

He turned to her. “It was nice meeting you, but I have an appointment to return a favor.” Grabbing his Santa hat off the couch (he was sitting on it the whole time) he took a couple of more-or-less steady steps over to the desk, where he took something small and black out of a drawer and slipped it somewhere inside his voluminously overstuffed Santa jacket. She looked away and brushed some of the lint off of her recently mended apron.

Santa stood for a second and looked at her, taking in the full picture, and, she thought she could feel, his keen eyes taking in even more.

“Thank you,” he said. She thought that the way he said it, he meant for more than just looking at his head.

Then he rushed out of the room, but stopped at the office door. He turned back, let out a deep baritone “Merry Christmas!” and a softer “ho ho ho” and left.

She fluffed the near-threadbare couch as best she could, closed the inner door, and wondered what kind of man would get so angry to find so much money.

She closed and locked the outer door and, running her fingers over the painted letters on the frosted glass spelling out DETECTIVE AGENCY, realized that this was the first time she had met Hollywood Russell.

She turned to her cleaning cart and was about to move on to the next office when she noticed that Santa’s beard was lying on top. Maybe it had fallen off?

Probably not. The thick wad of cash was beneath it.

She heard a soft “ho ho ho,” looked to her right, and saw a flash of red disappear down the hall and around the corner.


The End


This has been






Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 525 other followers

%d bloggers like this: