HighbrowNovember 1, 2012 at 5:56 am

True Life: I Work at American Apparel

Oh my god, this is, like, so stressful.” The girl brandished a pair of shiny red pants (“The Disco Pant,” $85, FYI), in my face. “I wanted to do these, but now I’m worried they’re not slutty enough.”

One of the fitting room doors opened, and a Theta walked out, leaving the remains of what looked liked like an attempt at a pumpkin costume strewn on the floor. The stressed girl barged in as I bent over to collect the orange tutu and surrounding green lycra off the floor. Usually, unwanted clothes are handed to me in a jumble of inside–out spandex and mismatched hangers, so that was kind of a low (no pun intended). But she had more important things to worry about, and so did I. This was Halloween at American Apparel, and she had a costume to assemble for some Zete party later that night, and I, well…I was the girl picking up her leftovers.

That’s the funny thing about being the only Penn kid on staff at the American Apparel at 37th and Walnut. Most of my co–workers go to UArts or do various hipster things around Philly. There’s a buffer zone between the store and where they spend most of their time, and if they overhear a conversation about Zete or Theos in the fitting room line, they’ll probably think they were some badly butchered versions of the names of Greek gods.

I know what they are, but most Penn students who come in the store don’t know that I know. And after this Halloween especially, I’m kind of glad of that. The store was a madhouse. We were running low on cat ears and the line for the registers (only one of which works) stretched to the door. And people were rude. My coworkers and I were surviving on way too much coffee from Wawa and sticky buns from Frogro. We were frazzled and stressed, mostly because of the hordes of students scrambling for last–minute costumes and stashing discarded bandeaus amidst the leggings (they do have different racks). At work this past week, I felt more solidarity with my coworkers than with the school right across the street.

So my plan for this Halloween? Even with my 50%–off discount, I wasn’t partying in my own American Apparel get–up with the rest of campus this year. I was sleeping.

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday, before I started working at American Apparel.

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