Archive for the ‘FAO’ Category

High on….work

March 5, 2006

Sometimes, although something may not go your way, you have to choose the moments of humor to weigh more on the scales of experience than the moments of misery and pain.

Work is pain. Work is misery. Yet moments at work are pure gold.

For instance, today I was marked to demo Magic Plastic, liquid plastic you put on a straw and blow bubbles that’s now “non-toxic.” Or so they say. After stepping on a tube, ruining the carpet, having it all over my hands, I started blowing actual bubbles. Wooh. But somewhere down the line, either the amount of air I was expending or the “non-toxic” smell of the plastic made me high. Really high. The phrase “higher than the kite” didn’t even apply, high.

This led me to try and convince customers unconvincingly that this toy was appropriate for their 5 year old child. This led me to pop a few bubbles, mid-blow and shout “I suck at blowing.” – leading customers to stare at me. (NB: That is so becoming a pin for something) It led me to shout out that “It’s hard for Ruben to get it up” when he couldn’t get his remote controlled motorcycle going. It led me to walk by a whole bunch of celebs on my way home who were filming Reign O’er Me (entitled on IMDB as Empty City) at Baruch (transformed to the Manhattan Criminal Court) singing Bob Marley at the top of my lungs while PA’s tried to tackle me.

Sometimes, you have to cherish these moments of absurdity to be able to survive the misery of retail. Note to remember for the rest of my life.


Riding the famous’ coat tails

March 4, 2006

I could never be a famewhore’s whore. It wouldn’t work. At the toy store, we get tons of celebs in all the time, and there are two distinct traits divided between the female celebs and the male celebs.

If you are a female celeb it is gauranteed, even indoors, you will purposely try to make yourself appear like a praying mantis. What do I mean? Abnormally large sunglasses that cover 5/8th’s of your face, super skinny legs and arms but adorned with abnormally large bracelets, bags, and boots.

If you are a male celeb you will be adorned, even indoors with a similar praying mantis but with overprocessed hair and a fur coat in attempt to distinguish themselves as the pampered and not the actual working female celeb.

Female celebs for the most part, although insect in appearance tend to be nice. Male celebs could care less about being in a toy store. Male celeb’s female famewhore’s whore, the bitchiest people on the planet. I mean I guess it is quite demanding and taxing to spend other people’s money. And all the time to overfry your hair!

Today I was on the comfy computer, the annoying computer for 1-5 year olds when suddenly Scottie Pippen, former Bulls star, approached. Not that big on the celeb meter but still big enough to warrent two security guards with him. He noticed the comfy computer and in an attempt to break for freedom from being subjected to shopping, he actually listened to the pitch and was going to buy. Yes! Another one sold! But then, I got a whif of the bleach and my sales went from +2 to -139283.

“Oh please, she’s way too advanced for that. She’s two and the smartest princess. And it only comes in clear. Don’t you have something stylish in pink, with crystals? Something more expensive?”

He quickly put it down, resigned looking. She readjusted her fur coat, attempted to flip her fried hair and sent the personal shopper in to a panicked scramble to find something educational for her “extremely” bright two year old that was also “blinged” out.

She’s just spending his money and he doesn’t care.

However that one image of Scottie Pippen putting down the Comfy Computer made another potential customer return the already almost purchased computer and several others walk away quickly.

Thanks famewhore’s whore. You look like an overprocessed praying mantis, and you are devouring your famewhore like one as well.

Fun? Fun? There’s no fun in a toy store!

February 20, 2006

Just a note about the FAO Fun Police.

Mr. Weeble Wobble, the assistant manager from hell, is the Fun Police, the PooPooing Po-Po. If he sees fun, it’s his sole mission, his reason d’etre, his singular goal, to squelch, smother, and defeat it.

“Keep that frown upside down? is his refrain.

Now, that would be all well and good in most places of work, but you see this is FAO Schwarz, the epitome of toy stores. It’s like telling everyone in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory to go on a diet and promote lettuce tasting chocolate. It doesn’t make sense.

Most people who work on the demo team are out of work actors. Very creative people who have decided waiting tables just doesn’t give them the creative freedom to pursue their art. You have Cesar who has a comedy show that runs every several weeks, there’s Chris who is crazier and quick-witted than your average bear, there’s Annie from Oklahoma, Micah who can attract any person to him with his ambiguously gay over the top acting, and all the other cast and crew.

Today, someone brought out the Hummer boom box to demonstrate the sound and power. Out bounced some classic Sugar Poppin’ Daddies and we all started to dance. All of a sudden it’s 6 of us dancing around, gathering a crowd with kids joining in and dancing with us. Parents are laughing, taking photos, people outside are pointing through the windows and making their way to the entrance, and most of all the atmosphere of the store was on fire. Then Beeker, the Weeble Wobble walked by with his clipboard.

He steps in the middle of our dance circle. “Tessa I need you back at the Illustory. Annie, get the party room ready/ and you…I don’t know what you should be on, but you’re here to work and you’re disturbing these customers.? Um…alright then there Steve, I’ll get back to holding my book which doesn’t create any interest and staring into space, and these customers that were having fun and actually being driven to buy things will just walkabout, browse, and walk out.

In an instant, the levity and ambiance of imaginary reality was sucked out of the second floor like I would suppose a vampire instantly sucks all the blood from its victim.

He disappeared for a bit and in my corner of non-creative, creative play promotions, Cesar stood making his magic plastic designs. Magic Plastic is the old school goo you put on a straw and blow to make semi-permanent bubbles. Selling point, now they’re nontoxic! (Damn, now you can’t get high!) Cesar had made a good size bubble and was bouncing it back and forth with a customer. Then, this little boy spiked it directly in Cesar’s face, popping it on his glasses and making this big blue glob stick onto his face and glasses, almost impossible for Cesar to get off. Now, this was quite funny. In one instant Cesar was just standing there hitting a plastic balloon, the next minute he was like a smurf who had his chewing gum stuck over his head. Hilarious. So funny, I actually fell to the ground crying with laughter.

Just then, faster than a speed of light, dundundadunnnnnn Fun Police to the rescue.

“Why are you laughing? Why are you on the ground? Cesar that’s not apart of the approved uniform.? The customers who had gathered to laugh at Cesar’s misfortune and wonder at the classic toy quickly dispersed, putting the magic plastic back on the shelf, not buying any of it. Weeble Wobble noted our having fun on his clipboard.

This went on all day. Poor Alan, demonstrating the wave board would see the Fun Police coming and skate his way as fast he could two floors down to try and avoid the Weeble Wobble. But then, even in the 0.2-second dash down two flights, the Weeble Wobble would be waiting for him clipboard in hand to chastise about something. How did he make it down there so fast? Was it a doppelganger, or was he really such a Man of Misery with the super power to find fun and snuff it out to only let unhappiness and dreariness fill the world? He would make a good super hero in that sense, a comic book character that can only breathe with his mouth open and hates fun. It’s a guaranteed classic right there.

It’s a toy store. When your employees have fun, it creates a mood more conducive to buying toys. I don’t understand the sequoia tree that is permanently lodged up his ass, but perhaps super Tessa, the queen of undermining authority will make an appearance soon.

May the Schwarz be With You

February 19, 2006

“Beached Whale? – SLAM. A partially deflated rubber whale slammed on the floor in front of me.Chris looked at me expectantly and I tried my hardest not to laugh. A horrified look crossed the face of a customer I was talking to at the Comfy Computer, and she picked up her “genius? child and ran off. I laughed. I laughed hard.

“Free Willy? I chimed back.

Chris broke into a soulful clap and dance singing Michael Jackson’s title song to that awful film.

Annie, rushed over joined in our now Michael Jackson soul circle dancing around the deflated whale, humming along with us as we realized we didn’t know the words but but scarily remembered the tune to the song.

Just another day at FAO.

From fathers hiding from their familes in the narrow furniture hallway sitting in pink feathered and sequined chairs under canapés of pink tuille, a mass of long legs peeking out from tiny chairs, to parents trying to convince me their two year olds are too advance for the child’s computer I’m selling since the two year old already has mastered Google and has their own myspace-there’s never a dull day sets in at the FAO Schwarz.

Nothing however beats poor little William. You see, Dr. Frankenstein has nothing on FAO Schwarz. I’m not even referring to the monster children or even worse Upper East Side parents who not only cater to every whinge and moan of their child, and demand the world themselves while chatting on their cell phones. No, up the escalator from the life sized animals, past the big piano that only costs $250k, lay Madame Alexander’s Doll Factory replete with severed doll heads on the wall.

The children choose the skin color, eye color, hair color, and hairstyle of their collectible, customizable, personalizable mini-me. After which we helped construct the doll in a fun process that includes microwaving the doll (not to long or the plastic melts as I learned) to and strapping it into a mascochistic torture restraint device in order to glue hair on. Fun, we promote, at least for future serial killers. But we do it all with a smile, wink, and an attempt to make the doll semi-normal looking. Quite hard when you are giving a two-minute brief on how to make the doll before you are thrust on to the floor as a certified dollologist with years of experience and a degree in doll making.

It’s normal, light skinned, blue eyes, medium blonde funky flip. Latin skin, grey eyes, dark brown playful pony. All little girls with their parents who have convinced that spending $40 on a unique doll will shut them up for 10 minutes, or older women who want to recapture their youth by collecting dolls. That was until little William, a little three-year old boy dressed in tight leather pants, a lambskin coat and a pink scarf wearing nail polish brought in by his grandmother. The Scissor Sisters youngest fan. Grandma decided that it would be oh so cute to have William make a doll. Now the store’s blatant girls ‘section of dolls and arts and crafts divide with boys’ science, math, and cars personally offend me. I think boys and girls should have equal opportunity to play with things. But the Madame Alexander Doll Factory was different. It’s definitely a girl’s girl type of create a girly doll with painted nails and makeup.

William and his grandmother struggled between the fair and Latin skin doll with brown eyes to match William’s. After choosing the Latin skin doll to reflect his slightly tanned tone, I’m sure that was applied from a can given how fake tanned his grandmother was, next came the hairstyle design. Black was a given. Now the closest to his short-cropped top was the Mop Top Bop, a bowl hair cut typical of young girls haircuts. But that didn’t do for Grandma. His hair isn’t straight she informed me. Then turning to William “What would you like your hair to be like when you get older?? He chose the crazy corkscrews, corkscrew twists on top of the head evident of longer girly locks tied up in a funky type of style.

I, slightly phased at this point, decide that this isn’t going to be a normal doll making. I debated between referring to the doll as her or him, since this doll was supposed to look like William, but was very evidently a girl doll. “What do you want to name your doll?? I said in the process of twisting the legs in, deciding on the gender-neutral description of doll over him or her. Grandma replied “Willameena, that’s what you like for later right William.?

Pause. It became evident. Grandma wasn’t a female empowerment equal opportunitist. No, grandma has already decided that William, age three, will become Willameena and is using this doll as a mechanism to help him comprehend his future self. Every fiber of my being was trying not to look shocked and I tried to shoot discreet “OMG? looks to the two girls at the register that were already blatantly gossiping behind hands covering their mouths. Quickly I finished the doll with the trademark wink and smile and decided that indeed maybe Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory wasn’t truly a reference to the dolls, but to the parents or grandparents who raised their children here on the Upper East Side.