Monday, November 9, 2009


I have never been a fashion slave but I do appreciate nice clothing. Lets face it, very expensive clothes just fit better and can add at least a doctorate, an adoring rich husband, and years of easy living to your appearance. When I worked at the bank, we wore uniforms so anything we spent on clothing went purely for casual or evening wear. One of our thrills each year was when Worth Avenue in Palm Beach ( the East Coast equivalent to Rodeo Dr.) would have its end of season sales. Their sales were awesome.

Ah, finally we could afford the good stuff. Not the $500 blouses , but some of the nice lower end merchandise in the likes of stores such as Saks, Neiman Markus, and Gucci, that had incredible sales. We had our moments in the sun so to speak strolling up and down Worth Ave without a real Palm Beacher in sight. They wouldn't have been caught dead buying styles that were so "last year".

When I later went to work for Florida Power and Light as a meter reader, my work uniform consisted of jeans,company tee shirts and chunky leather soled shoes. Absolutely no glamor there. I had been in training for one month when it was time for my first solo flight. My first route was that very same Worth Avenue.

I had been trained on this route and it was a miserable one. The old buildings had been added on to so many times that the meters that once had been on the outside of the buildings, were now hidden in alcoves, inside cabinets, storage rooms, in bathrooms, and under eves. Nothing was in plain sight. I had parked my vehicle with the Meter Reader sign in my window to ward off the meter maids and was getting ready for my first day when I noticed I had forgotten a belt.

We had to carry a small tool pouch that the company provided but we supplied the belt. I had been excited about my first day solo run and had just forgotten. Rummaging around, I found an old sisal rope and thought, this will do for I would be out of sight of anyone behind the stores. So with the rope tied in a big bow holding my tool belt on, off I went.

As prestigious as Worth Avenue is, the back sides of the stores were a horror show. Purely nasty. Old wooden cabinets,when found in the convoluted mess, not only revealed the meters but some of the biggest spiders I have ever seen. They were easily the size of you hand and that was only the body.

Small version of the wood spider.

I had an absolute terror of spiders so I was really, really uncomfortable. Giant prehistoric looking lizards also lived in the tropical setting behind the stores. They didn't frighten me as a species but their sudden movement when you surprised them did. Good thing no one was behind the stores that day for my language was filled with unladylike expletives each time I was startled.

Spider webs frosted my hair, and cuts from the over grown saw grass had blood running from both arms. My clothes were filthy from the ancient dirt covering the cabinets and my jeans were carrying a variety of sticker bush hitchhikers. My family would not have claimed me.

When I finally finished, I leafed through the book to check my readings and found I had missed one. Tiffany and Co had a blank page. By now I was pretty beaten down and not in good humor. There was no way to tell where Tiffany was located. There was nothing behind the string of buildings to tell where you were. I hunted rather haphazardly and finally knew there was only one way. I had to go in the front of the store and ask the owners. I wasn't sure what I looked like but I had a good idea.

I walked from behind the buildings onto the sidewalk and tried to quickly find the missing address. It was about as far from where I was as it could be. Tightening up my rope belt, trying to brush off the cob webs, dirt, and smearing the blood on my arms, I marched down Worth Avenue and in the front door of Tiffany's. I don't know if you have ever been the object of total attention, but you actually can feel eyes burn into your back.

The manager had too much class to gasp when she saw me but when she found out what I wanted, she quickly escorted me out the back door and showed me the hidden cabinet. She didn't say anything but I realized it would be prudent for all concerned if I were to make my way back down the street behind the stores. It was hard work beating through the bushes but that hurt less than the burning eye routine. I did manage a chuckle wondering just what my "wanta be Palm Beach pimp" would have thought had he seen me. Pretty sure my earning power would have taken a dive.

I am certain no one in Palm Beach would have been able to pick me out of a line up after I cleaned up but it was several years before I could take advantage of the Worth Avenue sales again.

Embarrassment has a long shelf life.


  1. I hate those sticker bush tacks. We have them here. I was covered with them when we put out campaign signs.

    What a job location. Not at all the type of buildings you would expect from top-of-the-line stores. Neiman Markus (original store) in downtown Dallas is a very old building-probably like you described out back.

  2. Oooh Patti.... Made me shiver... I couldn't have done a job like that. I have such fear of spiders and all kinds of things hidden in old buildings, etc.

    I even feel that way when I visit old junk and antique stores. I watch what I 'move' and what I 'pick up'... ha

    About expensive clothes, I've never had any in my life I don't think. Yes--when I was working, I did have some nice suits and work clothes --but nothing with a fancy brand name--other than Penney's or Sears, etc.

    I have a friend who is constantly dropping the 'name-brand' names --when she talks about buying stuff... GADS--I have never even heard of most of the names she uses. ha ha (Guess I'm not with the program!!!)


  3. Our spiders have succumbed to the frosts we have had. I have seen at least three of the big Wheel Bug which is the largest "bug" in America. I don't know where they are coming from.

  4. Your description is so visual, I could almost see all of it unfolding. What a story, like a vignette out of the novel of your life.

    I've never worn expensive clothing. In fact, I've never had a gown on in my whole life... not for my weddings, prom, or anything.

  5. Here I sit, in stretch jeans and a woolly, feeling rich and comfy, rich in home comforts, recalling as I read your post the times I attempted to look smart but only succeeded for a while in running up credit card debt. I'd have to be taken somewhere and sedated if we had spiders like that where I live!

  6. Nitwit,
    Yea, you can't tell by a store back by its cover.
    Luckily I had a dog that loved stickers. I would just stretch out and he would pick them off one by one. He was a keeper.

    The repeated exposure to the spiders got me over my fear. I still don't want one sharing my immediate space, but we do coexhist fairly well.
    We had one girl who shopped with us that was always showing her labels.
    Only when I was dating and partying hearty was style important.Today, I am strickly low end comfortable.

    Had to look up the big wheel bug. Don't think I have ever seen one and don't really care to.
    There is a spider in the tropics that can kill a bird. I once saw a taxidermist version of the attack. Yuck.

    Well I'll be darned. Never a gown? Guess what, you aren't missing a thing. I definitely think comfort should rule.

    Yes, dressing with name tagitis is purely expensive and so fleeting. Once I discovered the elastic waistband, my life went into its comfort stage and I am still there.

  7. You can look a crazy, territorial German Shepard in the eye, yet a spider scares you :-)....

  8. I'm afraid if I had run into a spider the size of my hand, I would have quit the job right then and there. Gave me chills just thinking about them. How long did you hold this job? I doubt I would have lasted a week. I do knuckle down and do what I have to when I have to, but spiders and small lizards, I don't know.

    Speaking of retired, have you ever thought about that word? When a husband and wife retire from some sort of job, the woman doesn't really retire, because she still has the cleaning, washing, cooking, shopping, making the beds and all that goes along with a housewife even though she's retired from an outside job. Some how it just doesn't seem fair, does it?

  9. GREAT Story, Patti. You have had such interesting jobs with some amazing experiences---This one---Well, all those spiders would no doubt have turned my hair!

  10. Oh, I would love to have seen that! The only time I was in Palm Beach was for a convention, and we had no time to shop Worth Avenue (nor money, truth be told). But at another convention in LA, I window shopped Rodeo Drive and even when I peered through the windows, I got looks from the clerks that said "Don't you dare come in this shop!" At the time, I was dressed none too shabbily, and certainly not in a rope belt and jeans...LOL...and they still shooed me away!!

  11. Amanda,
    That's funny. You know, you put it that way and it does sound strange. But, I was scared silly of those Shephards as well as the spiders. Guess the difference is that I love the species of dog, spiders, not so much.

    I really had no choice. I had quit my 10 year job with the bank and was stuck. There really were more good times than bad on the job.
    Totally agree about retirement. Same thing goes for vacations, especially camping ones or RV'ing. The woman keeps working till she draws her last breath. Not fair. Still the man has to mow the yard, do the heavy lifting and fix things so I guess it all evens out.

    Pretty sure that is why I went prematurely white Naomi. However, with all those repeated, forced contacts with spiders, we can now coexhist peacefully. Kind of glad of that.

    Ah, you should have shopped Worth Ave Judy. Southern snobbery is not as evident. I have taken out of town company Worth Ave shopping in my low end clothes and been treated very nicely. Especially Saks Fifth Ave. You can't beat Southern courtesy.

  12. Patti, your blog is so entertaining, I just read your "wanna be" post from March...I wasn't a follower at that time...I would like to read all your former posts, so I'll start there and work my way backwards.

  13. 'This story proves again tha you have a great sense of humor! It must have been very difficult for you to do this job.

  14. Well I am now mowing the yard, can't lift heavy items, but do help Abe and the two of us can do it. LOL

    By the way, my brother rode his motorcycle down to visit a while yesterday afternoon. He has a Suzki, runs pretty quietly, not like some of those large hogs. I think Abe posted a pic on his FaceBook.

  15. Wanda,
    Wow, thank you so much. We tend to think that our old posts just go off to die somewhere. I am thrilled you want to visit them.
    Thank you.

    Reader wil,
    Of course I am only going to tell the odd stories, most often it was uneventful and actually quite pleasant work. Sunshine, exercise and no bosses over your shoulder. I was never healthier.

    Oops, you are getting the short end aren't you :)) Hope you got to go for a ride behind your brother. I like the new quiet ones also.

  16. and I thought what I did for a living so many times was a thrill, this one takes the cake.

  17. YIKES and I dont hate spiders as long as they are not on me! and i wouldn't know name brand stuff if it hit me!

  18. Linda Starr,
    Of course I'll only be telling the gory stories. Most often it was pretty tame.

    Any more, neither do I know "name" stuff. I am really out of the loop these days.

  19. Here and so too happens:)