So there was a brief (get it?) period in London where I was not completely and utterly broke. I was feeling like a rich bitch, having enough money to eat and pay rent, while having something left over. So what does a rich bitch do that sets her apart from all the common, Primark-going folk? She shops for underwear in Mark’s and Spencer’s. That’s right, buying bras in the place where they make luxury Macaroni and Cheese. The high life.
I reveled in the novelty of not buying multipacks of lace bikini briefs (My Primark pant of choice, thank you), choosing proper knickers that probably wouldn’t run in the wash and would keep their elastic integrity. There is an impressive variety of undergarments available to us upper-class women. I picked up a selection and headed to the till.
There were two people on till duty, a middle-aged woman who looked like the kind of mother who would open the changing room curtains while their child was changing, stating “sure who would be looking at you?”, and a boy, probably younger than me, who I suspected was new – certainly to the shop, possibly to the world. I had three bras and seven pairs of knickers and I knew who I’d be more comfortable with handling them.
Of course, if I were a mature adult woman I would have no problem with any cashier handling my underwear, it is, after all, their job. It’s doubtful that they have any interest in my personal purchases. However, when the young man called me over I felt myself reverting to the furiously blushing school girl who hated buying her own tampons.
“This is ridiculous,” I told myself “You are a mature, grown-up lady who doesn’t care the age or gender of the person behind the till.” I walked proudly towards the till and put my purchases down, looking the young man dead in the eye as if to say “Yes, you know what I wear under my clothes. SO WHAT?” Very empowering.
It must have been his first day, which would have been fine, and I would have walked away happily from the blushing youth with my bag swinging, had it not been for the folding. It must be store policy to fold everything. Everything. Each garment, each slip of fabric, had to be removed from the hanger, then the hanger disposed of in the special hanger bin, then each one painstakingly folded and placed in a pile to put in a bag.
And he was so slow. Twice he apologised, twice I replied that it was fine. But it was torture. After I got over the idea that my knickers were so huge they needed to be folded to go into the bag, all I had to do was watch his shaky hands fold up each one. Halfway through I wanted to stop him, I really don’t care about my underwear being folded, who does? But I didn’t want him to think I was uncomfortable with the situation so I had to let him carry on.
With a final apology, he handed me the bag and I was allowed to leave. After such an intimate hour (?) together, we never saw each other again. But my advice, if I may give some, is thus: if somebody starts to fold your underwear, slap them immediately and ask them what the hell are they doing.
Or, you could say “no need for that, thanks,” but this really needs to happen on the first garment. Once they’re halfway through, it’s already weird. It has reached a point of diminishing return on weirdness, so they might as well finish. Make sure you catch them early and stop them – because, really, who folds underwear?