Once upon a time in a rainy kingdom far, far away on Ye West Coast, I was a Godiva girl. No, not the riding-a-horse-naked-through-town kind (can you imagine the chafing?) but the chocolate-pimping kind. My day job was as a professor but due to my directional dyslexia I ran a stop sign and totaled my car thus necessitating a night job. I didn’t want anything that required brain power and it also needed to be temporary because I was only sticking it out until I got my car fixed.
I considered it divine intervention when I saw the help wanted sign on a jaunt through the mall. A short interview with the manager (Do you like chocolate? Can you work nights? Can you smile for three hours while a woman tries to decide between a champagne truffle and a raspberry star while her toddler licks the entire display case from top to bottom?) and by that evening I was wearing a black apron with gold lettering and a name tag that said Sharon – the closest they could get to Charlotte without actually having to make me a name tag.
My first night was awesome. They paid me to sample every single chocolate Godiva makes. At the time I believe it was over 60 items. The down side is that you have to do it all at once so I ended up just taking one tiny bite of each $26.50/lb confection and then – yes – throwing the rest away. The rest of the night wasn’t as exciting but other than doling out a few little gold boxes and learning how to tie the signature Godiva bow – which has come in handy many a Christmas let me tell you – all I had to do was chat with the other night salesperson.
Like any minimum wage job, there was a revolving cast of characters so entertaining that I should probably write a book just about them, but it occurred to me after the second week straight of listening to Odes to Eminem that one thing would make this job totally perfect: my best friend Tasha.
Tasha had an infectious laugh, a rapier wit and, best of all, the ability to make fun of someone in such a nice way that they totally ended up laughing right along with her. And she needed a job. Perfect! I told my manager, a woman who still wore a black velvet mock turtleneck and quoted Reality Bites despite it being well into the new millennium, and she agreed to interview Tash. Seeing as Tasha was smart, cute, funny and hygienic, I figured we’d be snacking on samples and playing Spot the Tranny by the next evening.
So I was dumbfounded when Tasha told me she didn’t get the job. I knew my manager was desperate for night-shift workers. I knew there was no way Tasha had blown the interview. So what happened?
I didn’t want to believe her when she told me the reason, calmly, as if it hadn’t bothered her at all. You see, Tasha was fat. Not gargantuan but definitely well into the plus sizes. I was incredulous. Surely they wouldn’t say “Sorry, you can’t work here you’re too fat.” I mean, wouldn’t the mere utterance of that phrase cause lawyers to descend on our fake foliage like a pack of locusts? She explained to me that my manager just said the job had been filled but that she was sure the real reason was her weight.
Never one to hold my tongue, and let’s be honest, not caring about the job anyhow, I confronted my manager at my next shift.
Me: So who’d you hire for the night shift?
Turtleneck Girl: Oh, I haven’t found anyone yet.
Me: What about Tasha?
TG: Oh, you know, she wasn’t right for here.
Me: Why not?
TG: I just don’t think she’d fit in.
Me: How would she not fit in?
TG: Well… I don’t think the aprons would fit her. (Hello! Aprons have got to be the most one-size-fits-all item of clothing ever invented!) And this is a pretty small store and sometimes there’s a lot of people jammed in here.
Me: You think she wouldn’t fit in the store?!
TG: Plus, we’ve got this whole company image to adhere to and you know….
Other Worker Guy: (leaning in and whispering) Look sweetie, people don’t want to buy chocolate from a fat girl. They want to have the illusion that they can eat the chocolate and still look like us. If there’s a fat girl behind the counter reality smacks them right in the face. You can kiss your sales good-bye.
My manager went back to fixing the register tape and the other worker went back to stacking little gold boxes and I lost my innocence.
I should have quit on the spot, on principle. But I didn’t. I got my car fixed and quit a few months later and Tasha and I never spoke of the incident again. But to this day, every time I pass a Godiva store I peek in, looking for overweight salespeople. I’ve never seen one yet.
I’m curious: does it matter to you if the person selling you pricey chocolate (or clothing or any other luxury item) is overweight? Have you ever noticed a preponderance of skinny people in retail? Have you ever experienced discrimination based on your looks?