I’ve done a test run with “that doesn’t work for me” at the mall recently. The salesclerks really don’t give a goddamn if I live or die, so they make an excellent, low stakes test audience. The first thing that didn’t work for me is bras and panties with bows on them. BOWS!!!! Like I am a five year old! On a recent trip to Florida the suitcase fairies caused every pair of underwear I own to dissaparate, so I trekked to the mall to buy more. I admit to being a bit picky about the style and fabric of panty I prefer, so Victoria’s Secret was the safe bet. Except when I arrived I was horrified to discover that the style I like had recently been redesigned to feature BOWS! No one over the age of ten looks good in a bow and I have yet to meet the man who ever uttered any sentiment in the neighborhood of “You know what really turns me on? A nice bow.” So I verbally harassed the sales people, repeatedly telling them that they had to come up with some alternative because bows do NOT work for me! I was directed to the website, which still sells bowless panties. This obviously did me no good, as I needed them immediately. The story has a happy ending, however, because the suitcase fairies returned my underwear later that same day and my hopeless search for adult underthings came to an end.When the girls at VS took “that doesn’t work for me” in stride, I moved on to Bath and Body Works. They have recently also done some redesigning and now all of their products look like something you would find in Barbie’s Dreamhouse and smell like something manufactured by Tinkerbell back in the 70’s. THAT DOESN’T WORK FOR ME. The salespeople seemed more amused by my observations than anything else; I wonder if they thought I was a “mystery shopper”? The backstory here is that I actually worked for this company in the early 90’s and my most vivid memories of that experience are that they treated me like a criminal. Not just me—all of their employees. Equal opportunity accusers, they were. Part of their training program was to show us this bizarre little propaganda film about how they KNEW we were going to try to steal from them, but they had Fort Knox quality security in place to assure this would not happen. Or, if it did, we would be immediately apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. One of these security measures was a flashlight enhanced search of our bags at the end of each shift. As you can imagine, it was a happy workplace.
But here’s the thing: they also hired “mystery shoppers” to come into the store and try to bait you into inappropriate behavior. I actually enjoyed this part, as the idiots would ask ridiculously leading questions that a FIVE YEAR OLD in a BOW would know was entrapment. I relished “outsmarting” them (not sure why—outsmarting a turnip would have been trickier) and at the end of my brief tenure there was an “incident” with one of my co-workers being caught in some behavior the company deemed unacceptable. Even at the time I thought “You treat someone like a criminal and they are much more likely to behave as one”, but you know what I wish? I wish I had been able to say “That doesn’t work for me” sooner. A stupid waste of my time and energy, that job was. Now, at the ripe old age of 148 (ha!), I hope I have the discernment and the backbone to say “That doesn’t work for me” anytime I feel I am being compromised, belittled, bullied, neglected or undermined. Amy Schumer has a great skit on how women over-apologize (check it: http://aboveaverage.com/inside-amy-schumers-im-sorry-sketch-accurately-illustrates-how-often-women-apologize/) and this is something I am catching myself doing less and less these days. I am not sorry for how I feel, I am not sorry for needing help, I am not sorry that I don’t want to do that and I am not sorry THAT DOESN’T WORK FOR ME.The other day I overheard a woman making the most long-winded excuse in the history of the world to our yoga teacher about why she couldn’t attend a session of yoga-on-the-beach. In fact, it went on for so long I just wanted to interrupt her and say “YOU CAN’T MAKE IT. WE GET IT!” We don’t need to make excuses for ourselves. Not for who we are or how we feel; if somebody doesn’t like it, they are free to walk away. Next time you don’t want to do something, say “That doesn’t work for me”. If pressed for details as to how or why it doesn’t work for you, resist the urge to placate. It’s just not going to work. Because you don’t want to do it and that is something you can and should be able to honor. Making excuses insults the other person’s intelligence (like the mystery shoppers) and is a backhanded apology for feeling the way you feel. “That doesn’t work for me”. It’s a good enough reason for everything and anything. Because this is your life! Fill it with things and people that DO work for you and it can and will be dreamy. When you stand up for who you are and what you want, the rest will fall away. Happy birthday to all of us. It’s a new day, let’s work it!