“i can take the next seller,” the girl behind the counter called out. she turned her head in my direction, but didn’t meet my eyes. i walked over and put my two bags of clothing on the counter. “have you sold with us before?” the girl said.
“yes,” i said. when selling clothing to a consignment store, i like to walk around and shop while i wait for them to price my stuff. most of the time i use the money they give me to buy other clothes. but the store was crowded with shoppers, and all the sellers before me in line had stayed near the counter to wait.
i sell my unwanted clothing to this consignment store on occasion. sometimes i get tired of wearing things, sometimes things no longer fit me, sometimes i buy things online that never fit in the first place. i prefer not to stick around while they price my clothing because i’d rather not watch them systematically sort and reject the sartorial pieces of my life, and put them into piles called “keep” and “pass.”
“man, i hate this band,” the girl said to her coworker. “i only listen to this song here.” as she turned away from the counter for a second, i noticed that the white waistband of her underpants was clearly visible above her jeans. the waistband said “paul frank.”
i watched as she sorted my clothes. she piled up all my shirts and jeans along with a vintage velvet blazer and the purse i’d bought for my high-school reunion.
“hey, will you sort this stuff for a second?” the girl said to her coworker. “i really have to pee.”
“sure,” the coworker said.
“these are my passes,” the girl said, putting her hand on a pile that included most of what i’d brought.
when the girl came back, she and her coworker began discussing their recent dates. “well, i was dating this one guy, but that didn’t work, and then i was dating these other three guys, but that didn’t work either, so now i’m hanging out with this new guy. we’re just hanging out, though. we are! i’m serious!”
as the girl talked, she put more and more stuff in the “pass” pile. “hey, what do you think of this dress?” she said, holding up one of my vintage dresses to show her coworker.
“eh,” the coworker said, “may as well keep it. the xtina crowd will like it.” she actually pronounced it EX-tina. i’d definitely seen it written that way, but i never thought anyone would pronounce it like that. as soon as she said it, i wanted the dress back.
after the girl was finished sorting my clothes, she filled out a receipt with the very small amount i was owed, and shoved it across the counter towards me along with a paper bag full of the passed-on pieces of my life. but this time, i didn’t bother to redeem my receipt; instead i left immediately and drove home.
i know that consignment stores are a business, and they make money on what they can sell. truthfully, i myself wouldn’t have bought anything i tried to sell to them. but i prefer to walk away during the process because i don’t want to watch someone in visible paul frank underwear debate with her coworker about my clothes as they pertain to the xtina crowd. it makes me feel like the “exchange” part of clothing exchange is where i trade my dignity.