Welcome to my short story called The German Lady.
There are good people in mostly all of the groups in the world. So when I tell the story about one particular person, I’m not in any way attacking the country from which they come.
This said, while I was working for a horrible department store in Dallas that was founded in Arkansas, I worked with a sales lady that was obnoxious and very crooked. The time was the early 1990’s.
Always putting on airs that she was a devout Christian, there was no ethical boundaries that this woman who not cross for the gain of money. And for a reason I will show later, I will call this woman, Mrs. Third Reich.
When I started working for this department store I knew that there were going to be two or three big sharks on the floor. In any place where the competitive world of sales happens the term shark is used.
Shark: A salesperson that is overly aggressive and uses unethical tactics to gain sales. Mrs. Third Reich was a skinny German born woman with gray and blonde hair that was always put in a ponytail. She was seventy year old and she always wore long dresses and sensible shoes.
On this floor everyone knew of at least three times when Mr. Third Reich had taken a hold of another salesperson and rung it up on her sales number when the customer came to pick their shoes.
Unfortunately like many places that I work at, HR didn’t take any action against Mrs. Third Reich due to the fact that she was a good producer.
A Little Money on the Side
When a customer returned a shoe that was worn the company ate the loss. At our store at the end of each month we would just throw away all of these shoes into the trash.
Using her pull as top producer Mrs. Third Reich one time convinced the store manager to let her have the shoes for a charity that her church ran. He agreed. For several months she took the worn shoes until one day one of the salespeople on our floor saw her selling the shoes at garage sale that she was having at her house. The store manager immediately banned her from taking anymore worn shoes.
The Dark Corner
The women’s stockroom at this department store was very long and very deep. The layout was also irregular and filled with hallways and deep dark corners. Most of the hallways and corners were choked with display tables, mannequins, seasonal decorations and other props from the visual department. In one of these dark corners amongst the clutter was a desk and a phone.
During my two years at this store, I would venture near this dark corner when looking for some old shoes that we didn’t sell often. About a dozen times at this one dark corner I would hear Mrs. Third Reich cussing out her son-in-law who she hated. And from what I heard coming out of the phone the feeling was mutual.
In the month of January Mrs. Third did three things that finally led me to coming up with a plan to get rid of her once and for good.
One time when she, I and two other people arrived at noon for the evening shift we immediately clocked in and started looking for customers to help. The sales floor was starting to become steady.
A few minutes past twelve Mrs. Third Reich picked up her first customer of the day. It was two middle age women. One had blonde hair and other was a brunette. Each was wearing a necklace with the Star of David and spoke with a British accent.
Quickly the two women picked out several shoes on the floor on which they wanted to try. Mrs. Third Reich then sat them down and told them that she would be back with the shoes in a moment. On the way to the stockroom Mrs. Third Reich picked up two other customers, a mother and daughter and a woman that was by herself.
To wait on two or more customers at the same time is called doubling.
To wait on three or more customers at the same time is called tripling.
And so forth.
I was fairly good at doubling but when it came to tripling, it was always a stretch for me. And it’s no different for anyone else. The problem is that when a salesperson waits on two or more customers the quality of their service takes a dramatic spiral.
You are just pitching out shoes. You’re not maximizing your customers. You’re not developing a strategy on what other products you can sell to your customer.
I found that many times I could sell far more to one customer than I could when waiting on two or three customers at the same time.
It was true that Mrs. Third Reich was top book. And it was true that she did have a decent clientele base but, the majority of her sales was done by sheer volume and cheating.
On her way to delivering the shoes the two British women had picked out, she went out of her way to pick up another customer. She now had four customers.
With twelve boxes lying on both palms and her head barely peeking out over the top boxes Mrs. Third Reich went over to the British women. She plopped down the shoes on a nearby sofa and then separated their shoes. Smiling she told them, “Some of my clients just came in and I will need to wait on them but, I will be back in moment to see how you are doing.”
As she walked away the two women shook their heads in disbelief. The two British women knew that the customers she was also waiting on were not her clients. Lastly they were angry that Mrs. Third Reich didn’t set the boxes in front of their feet and didn’t open the boxes and present the shoes to them.
And they were right to think this way. In the shoe dog business this is considered bad form.
The reason I can tell you this story with such great accuracy is that at time I didn’t have a customer to server. That’s because Mrs. Third Reich had about one third of the customers on our floor.
The two British women were now glaring at Mrs. Third Reich as they watched her pick yet another customer. It had been fifteen minutes since she had come by and delivered the first round of shoes. Since then they had gone around the floor and had picked some more shoes on which they wanted to try.
From the corner of my eye I saw the blonde lady’s hand go up. She was signaling me to come over. Quickly I moved across the floor.
I said, “Yes ma’am?”
She asked, “Are you free sir?”
I replied, “Yes ma’am.”
She asked, “Could you please serve us?”
“I replied “Sure ladies…” I played stupid, “…but isn’t someone else helping you?”
The brunette gave me a dirty look for a brief moment. Then the blonde one said, “She was, but she isn’t now. We want you to wait on us.”
As I nodded I smiled and said, “It would be my pleasure. My name is Tim and I would love to serve you.”
The blonde lady pointing to herself said, “My name is Catherine.”
As I nodded I said, “Pleasure to meet you.”
The brunette then said, “And my name is Alice.”
As I nodded I said, “And it’s a pleasure to meet you as well.
When Mrs. Third Reich saw me talking to these women she ran over to us. With a forced smile that bordered on creepy she said to the British women, “And how are you doing over here?”
Catherine spoke up and said, “We’re doing fine. Tim is waiting on us now.”
Not the one to take a hint Mrs. Third Reich said, “I’m so sorry that it took me so long to get over here but as I told you, all of my clients came in suddenly and I had to serve them as well.”
Looking at her through the top of her glasses Catherine sneered briefly and said, “You mean the four clients that you introduced yourself to? I saw you. I was watching. Now could you please leave us alone?”
“Of course,” said Mrs. Third Reich. As she bowed out of the sale she had lost she brief turned to me and gave me a brief scowl.
Rapidly I found that Catherine and Alice were two very decisive women who were looking to buy a large array of shoes. They just needed some advice.
Minutes later when I was in the stockroom pulling some shoes I thought they would like, Mrs. Third Reich got in my face. With her finger in my face she yelled, “You stole that sale from me!
In my stern and baritone voice I said, “No I didn’t! They dumped you because…”
She interrupted, “You’re a liar!”
I interrupted, “Don’t you cut me off when I’m talking! You got that! You were dumped because you were giving them terrible service. So shut up and get your finger out of my face!”
She got the finger out of my face
As she shook her head she screamed, “No one talks to me that way!”
I replied, “That’s because you live alone” And it’s not my choice!”
She bellowed out, “I’m going to HR! And I’m going to get you fired for stealing from me. And! I’m going to get what I brought and what you brought to them reverse from your number my number! I’ve done it before!”
Stomping away she went back on the floor.
Except for the firing part, she was right. At least two times I had seen her go to HR and convince them that a sale had been stolen from her and then get the sale placed on her commission number.
To prevent this scenario from happening to me I quickly came up simple plan.
It was a fortunate matter that most people on the first floor who worked in the various departments really liked me, for had it not been for this fact, my simple plan would have never worked.
When the two British women were done trying on shoes they each wound up with seven pairs they wanted to buy.
In the first step of my plan: I told the two ladies that all of the registers on our floor were busy. I then explained that I would ring them up at a registers elsewhere so they could quickly get on with their shopping. They liked this idea.
So at a moment when Mrs. Third Reich wasn’t looking, I led the ladies over to the evening dress section located on the other side of the floor. There, I sat them down in the chairs found the middle of the department Sitting there they were surrounded by towering round racks of dresses.
Taking the boxes to the back where the registers were I approached two older women who like many employees at this store hated Mrs. Third Reich. After explaining them the story about the two British women and Mrs. Third Reich, I told them my plan. And without any pause they agreed to help me.
The plan was this:
Each of the sales women would ring up one of the British women on their commission number at different registers. In turn to make sure that I received commission for the shoes, in the next few days they would ring a few evening dresses on my commission number thus making it an even wash.
After I had finished up with the two women I then snuck outside of the store and had a quick coffee and a snack.
Entering the store on the second level I then snuck into loss prevention. Here I talked to the head of the loss prevention who happen to be a good friend of mine. I chatted with him for about fifteen minutes.
During this time that I was talking to my friend Mrs. Reich had finished with the four customers and was now frantically trying to hunt me down. On the cameras in front of us we both saw her on the first floor running from department to department. By reading her lips, as she went to one employee after another, she was asking them if they had seen me ringing some shoes for two women. Everybody including the women in evening dresses was saying no.
Minutes later when I stepped back unto the women’s shoe floor the lunch rush was over and there was about three customers on the floor.
From my right Mrs. Third Reich rushed toward me. Getting in face she said, “What did you do with those shoes?”
I calmly answered, “I put them back in the stockroom.”
She yelled, “No you didn’t. Someone on the floor saw you walking away with the two ladies along with the shoes I was showing them!”
I didn’t know whether she was telling the truth or not. I didn’t care.
Sticking to my story I said, “No they didn’t.”
Shaking her head she asked, “Then why are they missing from the stockroom Tim?”
With a smiled I answered, “They could have just been sold by another salesperson. Did you ever think about that?”
Jabbing her finger into my chest she yelled, “No! You stole those shoes from me. You did!
Just then the manager who had seen the last few seconds of the confrontation walked up to us. He tapped on Mrs. Third Reich’s shoulder. She turned around. With a dead stare but a calm voice he said to her, “Get off the floor and come into my office. You and I are going to have a serious chat.”
Taking one step back she looked him up and down and then stared into his eyes and barked out, “No! I’m not going with you. I’m going to HR. I’m going to get him to check the cameras.” She then pointed to me. “And then I will find out where this thieve rang my sale. Then I will get that sale reversed on my number and then get him fired!”
She then turned on one of her heels and stomped off toward the escalator.
My manager sighed. He then turned to me and whispered, “I wish I could really get rid of that bitch.”
On the third floor she barge into the office of the head of HR and plopped down in the chair in front of his desk. Without giving him a word edgewise she told him how she had been cheated. She then told him that she wanted him to check the loss prevention cameras. Next she told him that she wanted the sale reverse to her number and off course lastly she wanted him to fire me. Yeah right.
The HR at this department store was no different from the HR in other department stores. They were a coward to mean employees and a bullying to nice employees.
While Mrs. Third Reich sat there the head of HR picked up the phone and got the head of loss prevention. He then asked the head of loss prevention to check the cameras near the place where I began to serve the two British women. Lastly he told him to start the cameras to about an hour ago.
The head of loss prevention said that he would fast frame the cameras in that requested area and would have the answer for him very soon
Minutes later the head of loss prevention called back with an answer. He said that he never saw me leave with two women while carrying stacks of shoes. He further stated that after the two women left the floor empty handed he saw me taking the shoes to the back. Lastly he stated that after I put up the shoes he saw me go to the bathroom on the first level floor.
Because liked me and hated Mrs. Third Reich he went along with my plan to prevent her from reversing my sale to her number. Word for word on a piece of paper that I wrote on, he said exactly was what I wanted him to say.
The head of loss prevention was well respected, so I knew that there would be no further inquiry by HR.
Not wanting to give up her fight Mrs. Third Reich then ordered the head of HR to check the journal rolls on the first floor.
Bowing to her request he called customer service. He them asked if they could check all of the journal rolls to see if my commission number had been used on any of the registers on the first floor outside of the women’s shoe department
When she came back from HR she went in search of me. Eventually she found me in the stockroom. At the time I was straightening a section of shoes of which I was assigned to maintain.
With her arms crossed and a smug smirk on her wrinkled face she said, “I just came from HR.”
I said nothing.
She continued, “They are checking the journal rolls all over the floor. And when they find where you rung my customers up, they are going to reverse the sale to my number.”
Done with my section and done with her I nodded and said, “Good luck with that.”
As I turned around and started walking I heard her growl.
Bad News Bitch
About two days later after customer service had gone through the entire journal rolls they reported their finds to HR. The head of HR then called Mrs. Third Reich.
When she heard the news she became furious. Hanging up the phone on the head of HR she then went up the escalator to yell at him. But despite all of the ranting nothing happened, she had no leg on which to stand.
On same day the two women in evening dresses each rang up enough dresses on my number to equal the two thousand dollars for the shoes they had rang up on their number.
The Dark Side
That night, about thirty minutes before we were about to close I happen to be in the back near the dark corner. One of my closing duties that night was to sweep the stockroom, but someone had moved the dust mop from its usual place and I was now looking everywhere for it. A few yards closer to the dark corner I found the dust mop, it was leaning against several stacks of shoes.
Just then, I heard a voice coming from the dark corner, it was Mrs. Third Reich.
Curious, I crept up a few yards closer to the dark corner. When I was close enough to make out the words I began to listen to her conversation.
In a matter of seconds I learned that she was talking to her daughter and that the conversation was about me and the two British women.
About me, she said that the one that had stolen my sale was a faggot. This didn’t bother me. But what she said about the two British women made me furious. She said:
“I can’t believe those two fucking Jews talked to me that way. You know…that if the Fuhrer had not invaded Russia…that would have given us more people and more time to take care of the Jews.”
I mumbled, “Oh damn!”
From the pause, I could tell that she was listening to her daughter’s response.
Mrs. Third Reich then replied, “I’ll talk anyway I want to!”
Shaking my head I creep away with the dust mop and started my sweeping on the other side of the stockroom.
The Final Straw
About a week after her evil late night rant, Mrs. Third Reich stole a big sale. It was from Cool Chick.
Cool Chick was a stacked beautiful girl with long black hair and green eyes. She was the type of female that got along with guys better than girls. She was funny and sarcastic. Her voice was similar to the late Susan Pleshette. Still love her, still miss her.
On Cool Chick’s hold shelf she had three pairs of shoes that surmounted to over five hundred dollars. Cool Chick was off that day but I wasn’t.
With no doubt, Mrs. Third Reich willfully rang up the shoes on her employee number when Cool Chick’s customer came in to pick up the shoes. I know this because I watching. I saw her pretend to look at a list of the employee numbers that was taped near every register, only to put her own employee number on the screen.
Immediately I went to my manager. His office was found on the opposite side of the dark corner. I told him about Mrs. Third Reich. Quickly he reversed the sale and then he pulled Mrs. Third Reich into the back.
In the office she apologized and said that she had made a mistake and that she would fix the sale.
When our manager told her that he had already reversed the sale she became furious. He wasn’t scared.
When he then told her that he was going to write her up she cussed him for about a minute and then she left his office. She then marched up the escalator to go to HR.
Instantly Mrs. Third Reich went into her sob mode. She said that she had accidentally rung her number on the sale. She said that she had told our manager that it was just a mistake and that she was going to fix the sale and put it on Cool Chick’s number. Lastly, she said that our manager had been mean to her and that he had no cause to write her up. Sad to say, the head of HR sided with her and told our manager not to write her up.
When I was told about the cancelled write-up by my source that worked in the HR office, I knew it was time to get rid of this bitch.
The next morning while I was having breakfast at home, I suddenly came up with a simple but very effective way of ending Mrs. Third Reich’s career. The only thing I needed was a good friend that could act.
Just before I was about to pop in another sausage link into my mouth I said out loud, “Cool Chick.”
In my last bout of eavesdropping at the dark corner I overheard Mrs. Third Reich cussing and arguing with her son-in-law. The topic like many of their conversations was on money. She wanted him and her daughter to give her money for a down payment on a car. He of course didn’t want to because she had more than enough money to it herself. She told him that when her daughter got back from her business trip on Sunday, she would just get her daughter to take the money out of the bank.
The Set Up
On a busy Saturday when all of the shoe dogs were working I put my plan into motion.
Around the time that Mrs. Third Reich had finished up with a big client and was cleaning up her mess, Cool Chick approached her.
A few days earlier Cool Chick had accepted Mrs. Third Reich’s apology about ‘accidentally’ ringing up the hold on her number. Faking sincerely Cool Chick accepted her apology
With big eyes and kind smile Cool Chick leaned over the foot stool on which Mrs. Third was sitting. She said to her, “Hey, I got a message from your daughter. She sounded excited. She told me to tell you that she got home early. And that she had some good news to tell you, said you would know.”
With a grin erupting on her face Mrs. Third Reich got up fast from the stool as then said, “Oh Good! Good-good-good! She finally talked some sense into him!”
She then left Cool Chick and hurried toward the stockroom.
One minute before Cool Chick had told Mrs. Third Reich the false message, I went to the dark corner. Six months earlier Wally from the story, (The Great Tell Off) accidentally found that if you put the wrong jack plug into the phone, any phone call you make will be heard on the speakers found throughout the entire store.
If there’s one fact you should know about Mrs. Third Reich is that she was deaf in the left ear. I tell you this because it is the final ingredient in creating one of the funniest things that I had ever witnessed in my life.
After switching the jack plugs I emerged on the floor. To my right I saw Cool Chick delivering the last of the false message.
Waiting for Mrs. Third Reich to leave the floor I then sided up to Cool Chick. Sharing a grin as we looked at each other I then said, “Let the fireworks began.”
The Radio Show
She makes the phone call
This is what the entire store heard.
The son-in-law (Dale), “Hello.”
“Hello Dale, I need to speak to Marla.” ( The daughter)
“Marla’s not here. And you know that! She doesn’t come back until tomorrow.”
“Well I just got a message from her and I know she’s there!”
“Look here you crazy bitch! She not here! She comes back tomorrow! Like I just f---in’ told you!”
She screamed, “Did you just talk her out of giving me the money! F--- you Dale! That g----m money is just not yours, half of it belongs to her! And she shouldn’t have to come f----in begging for it so that she can lend me some money! Now let me talk to her you f---in’ asshole!”
Screaming back he said, “Are you f---in’ out of your mind? I told you, she not here you crazy c---!”
At this time everyone had their faces up toward the ceiling. Some of the adults that had children put the palms over their children’s ears, while other parents headed toward the mall. Half the people on the floor both customer and employee had a look of awe on their faces as they shook their heads. While the other half were either giggling or laughing out loud. Cool Chick and I were doing that type of laughter that brought tears to our eyes.
Mrs. Third Reich puffed out, “Nobody! Nobody calls me a c---!”
Dale, “Well in that case…C---! C---! C---!
She screamed, “Get me Marla!”
“She’s not her!”
“Yes she is!”
Dale, “You know, never paid us back for the DUI last summer. And she’s already told you that you’re not gettin’ any more money.”
“I will pay you back later. I need the money to get a new car. Mine is falling apart!”
“Well here’s an idea…don’t drink and drive bitch!”
At this point in the radio show I suddenly heard the familiar noise of shoe on metal. It was the store manager running down the escalator.
Out breath and red in face he ran up to the nearest shoe dog. The shoe dog was a sweet old lady that just started working for us.
Our store manager was a bald, short man of his early fifties.
Labored he cough out, “Where…where is your manager?”
She replied, “Oh he’s at lunch. I think that German lady that works here is on the phone.”
With flat frowned he said, “Yes! I know.
Being that she was new the old lady didn’t know about the dark corner of the stockroom.
She said, “I think it’s coming from the back.”
The store manager said, “Yeah, I know that. But where in the back?”
At that time another fast clip of profanity blared out.
“F--- you bitch!”
“F--- you! You stupid tightwad!”
“I wish my daughter hadn’t married such a f----n’ lose like you!”
On the floor the manager pleaded to the old lady, “Please help me find her!”
Taking him into the stockroom she then led him toward the shoe manager’s office which the farthest you could be from the dark corner.
It was logical to think that Mrs. Third Reich was making use of the phone in the shoe manager’s office. Many shoe dogs did this.
Seconds later when the manager discovered that she was not in the office he went to the nearest stockroom phone and yelled, “Shut the hell up! Shut up Mrs. Third Reich!
Get off the phone! You’re on the store intercom!”
Mrs. Third heard nothing. Darn that left ear.
Slamming the phone down, he quickly ditched the old lady that was slow and frantically started looking around the stockroom.
When he got into the middle section of the stockroom he pick up another phone and screamed, “Shut the f--- up! You’re on the store intercom! Hang up! Hang up!”
Slamming a phone again he headed to other side of the stockroom. And after checking out the phones in the front of the stockroom near the right entrance, he actually started heading toward the back.
I would have helped him but didn’t care.
Forty feet from the dark corner the store manager heard her. On the store intercom you could now here him, “Hang up! Hang up! You’re on the store intercom!”
Running toward the sound of her voice he rapidly turned down a hall where he then ran into the end of a tall metal shoe rack.
Wiping the blood coming out of his nose he ran toward the voice. Over the store intercom I heard his scream. “Shut the fuck up! Hang up! Oh god! Hang up!”
Surprised by the yelling she heard behind her, Mrs. Third Reich stopped her tirade, turned her neck around and said, “What?”
As he ran into the dark corner the store manager ran into part of Christmas display. It was the end of a red and white striped pole with which his balls collided.
Going down in blood curdling scream, as he fell to the floor he yelled, “Oh f-f---!”
With the phone still in her hand she turned in the chair toward him and asked, “Are you okay?”
He gasped out, “Hang up the phone. You’re on the store intercom.”
With big eyes she said, “I’m on the store intercom?”
As he lay there on the floor in a fetal position as he held his crotch with both hands he yelled, “Hang up the phone bitch! Now!”
Putting the phone to her face she said, “Bye.”
In the dark corner both the store manager and Mrs. Third Reich heard a wall of cheering and clapping from outside. The funny drama had ended.
Immediately after the store manager assumed a vertical position, Mrs. Third Reich was fired. The Nazi was finally out of our store and out of our lives.
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