I walked into the store that day in a floral dress and black shrug, very representative of my newly 19-years-old style.
“Hi, I’m here to see Josh for an interview,” I timidly said to the cashier.
What came next was one of the most intense interviews I’ve ever gone through, and I’m a journalist. I was asked what I knew about the company and different areas of the store. I had to put outfits together and help a sales representative masquerading as a customer find something for her husband.
When I left, I felt confident I at least did OK, and I did. After a second interview, I got the job. I was now a sellebrity at Old Navy, and yes, that is really what they called us.
Little did I know, four-and-a-half years later, I would still be working there. After graduating with two bachelor’s degrees. After getting married. I was still there.
Old Navy had become a safe place for me. Although I was able to take time away from working there because of other jobs, Old Navy was always there when I needed a few extra bucks to to make ends meet.
While working my fifth back-to-school season this year, I encountered a customer that made me realize I had finally had enough.
She put a large pile of men’s clothes in front of me, looking just as frustrated as every other mother that time of year.
“Are y’all not going to have the $10 jean sale this year?,” she asked.
“Kid’s jeans are on sale for $10 right now, but unfortunately, the adult jeans only get down to $19. This is the cheapest they’ll probably get this summer,” I replied.
“I don’t like your attitude,” she abruptly said. “Is there a manager that can check me out? I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”
I had never had a customer complain about my service, so I was taken aback, to say the least. I sent her down to Priscilla, a manager who is known to not take attitude from anyone, who checked her out.
“I don’t want these because that girl down there touched them,” she said.
I can’t make this up. I’ve never felt so insulted in my life. Priscilla defended me, telling the customer that I am one of the oldest and best cashiers in the store. The customer angrily left, saying she would never come back. That was fine with us.
As upset as I was about the encounter, it made me realize I just could not do this anymore. It made me see the light outside of the box I had been in for so long. It was time for me to get out of my comfort zone.
I turned in my two-weeks notice a few weeks later. I’m financially stable enough to have one job for the first time in my adult life, and if I didn’t quit then, I don’t know if I ever would.
My last shift was filled with complacency and a tinge of melancholy. I spent my entire adult life working at this store. This was the end of an era for me.
Quitting Old Navy also feels like I’m quitting my college years. In a few short months, I’ll be a real adult with a real adult job, and that’s scary. Especially without a back-up plan, which is what working retail has always been for me.
I will forever cherish my time working at Old Navy. I learned how to deal with difficult people and an obnoxious amount about credit cards. I can organize a closet like no one else, properly folding, silhouetting and color striping every item. I also made so many friends, in both coworkers and regular customers like Jenny, Janice and The Keenums.
Here’s to the end of my broke college years (hopefully).