Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Don't Say Cheese!

So over the last few years working at Happy Time Portraits I have seen some crazy shit that people have paid to have pictures taken of/with/in.  Some of these were requests and some of these are pictures that I took and some of them are pictures that should not have been taken, but were anyway.  Keep in mind that Happy Time Portraits is a family company.  If I could show you guys these shots I totally would, but of course that would break all kinds of rules and laws and stuff, and especially after that Applebee's waitress scandal I'd rather be safe than, uh, fired.  Maybe someday I will have someone draw them out for fun, but until then you'll just have to take my word for it!  I swear these all really happened!  Anyway, here we go!

I felt really awkward taking these pictures because...

- The mom dressed her ten-year-old pageant girl up in a Cowboys cheerleader outfit that looked like this without the long sleeves:

and wanted these really creepy suggestive poses that I didn't feel comfortable doing.  When the mom is telling her kid to "suck it in, push 'em out and make the booty pop" it doesn't make for a good session.  Trying to make the kid still look like a kid was a challenge.

-The teenage boy was trying to pick me up while I was taking his senior pictures... You know, once his mom left the room!

-The pictures were for an Indian matchmaking site (which is fine, I have done a lot of those) and after the session was done the dad wanted to know how much it would cost him to marry me!  Ack!

-Halfway through the session of family pictures me and one of the guys in the group both realized that we knew each other from junior high.  I used to have a huge crush on him and I turned bright red and had to excuse myself right in the middle of everything to compose myself. 

-I had to go answer the phone in the middle of the session, which was maternity pictures (for this lady who was old enough to be a grandma and was having her last "miracle baby"), and I came back in the room and she had stripped down to her skivvies (no bra either!) and grabbed a blanket off the wall which she wrapped around her giant grandma ta-tas and shoulders like it was a cape.  I had to go laugh it off in the other room and politely tell her that she had to put her clothes back on.

- The mom came in with two little twin girls for birthday pictures and they brought a giant painting with them.  I asked what the painting was for and the mom tells me that their dad had passed away last year and they wanted to take "birthday pictures with their dad".  I was trying to take poses that were respectful of the situation, but the mom wanted these crazy shots; so, we ended up with pictures of the girls standing with their hands on their hips wearing tutus, denim shorts and t-shirts decorated with puff paint on either side of this painting that looked like a pop art print of Biggie Smalls and they are super smiley and it was just wrong.

- The couple wanted to take pictures of their kids to commemorate 9/11.  Really.

We didn't end up taking pictures for this customer because...

- She wanted naked pictures of their five-year-old.

- She wanted me to take pictures for a cat wedding.  "Sorry, ma'am.  We don't do pets!"

- He wanted erotic nude pictures for a dating site.  Oh, yeah.

- He wanted to take his shirt and pants off and climb into our giant bathtub.

- The sixteen-year-old wanted to take maternity pictures in her bra and panties.  Seriously??

- These guys wanted to take gangsta pictures and they wanted to get drunk in the session to show off how incredibly hardcore they were haha.

- The lady wanted me to come to her house and take erotic pictures of her and her husband and "if you like you could join us afterwards."  That one left me speechless!


I couldn't believe that I graded photography for a studio and found that they took pics of...

- A baby wearing tiny green scrubs crawling next to a human spine.  It turned out the dad was a chiropractor.

- A lady wearing a skimpy teddy holding up a birthday cake suggestively licking frosting off various parts of her body.

- Sexy Santa pictures.  Seriously.  Men, women, fat, skinny, crackheads.  All kinds!  Every year I find them somewhere!  And every year they get less and less tasteful.  Especially the things that people have done with candy canes!  Sakes alive!

- A little boy holding an urn in every shot.  "They said on the phone that he wanted to have pictures taken with his grandpa..."

- What I like to refer to as the "Creepy Uncle Jim has Popsicles in the basement" pictures. Try to picture this and then try to not picture it afterwards so you don't feel like a pedophile.  This kid who is like four or five is sitting in a beat-up rocking chair, only wearing his Underoos, crossing his legs to hide his shame and holding a teddy bear while sucking his thumb.  And the expression on his face is just utter embarrassment.  So damn creepy!  "The mom wanted it like that..."

- A couple dry humping each other in damn near every shot.

- Babies eating cake for the first time and not knowing when to stop.  There is a fine line between eating cake and eating shit.  The ones that I saw were worse than my example. Don't make your baby look like he's eating something he found in the litter box!  Like so:

- A lady who is breastfeeding a four-year old.  Now, I am not against breastfeeding in public and I know that in some parts of the world it's totally common for women to breastfeed their kids up until about five or six; however, at work we aren't allowed to take pictures of any woman breastfeeding because of our nudity policies.  These pictures were just hilarious though because the photographer basically just let the lady completely take off her shirt and bra and she is sitting there cross-legged on the floor while this hella evil looking kid is grabbing onto one of her chi-chi's with both hands and is just staring into the camera like "I dare you to take this boob!" 

Do you have any fun retail photography stories to share?  Hit me up in a comment or on!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Callin' in The Fuzz!

"Vindi, the police are here right now because...

- Some lady just jumped over the counter at me because I wouldn't give her the extra pictures that she refused to pay for.

- A dude just robbed me at gunpoint for the $50 I had in the cash register.

- This crazy guy called 911 because I wouldn't give him a refund on a non-refundable product.

- Loss Prevention couldn't get this lady out of the store and she is refusing to leave until I apologize for 'looking at her funny.'

- Someone just shot out all the glass in the windows of our store front.

- This mentally challenged guy got lost while his group home was on an outing and he started putting movies into his backpack and when I told him he had to put them back he pissed himself and just sat on the floor.

- These two customers got into a fight because one was drunk and the other didn't speak English and the drunk guy got mad about that so he punched him.

- Someone drove through the side of our video store in the middle of the night and drove off.

- They seem to think that I stole some watches, but they must be mistaken, so I thought I'd call you and let you know that my store isn't going to be covered for the next few hours.  (She totally did it!)

- This lady says that I stole her $2,000 necklace that no one saw her wearing--in the middle of downtown Oakland... *sigh*

- There is a guy who keeps barking at me and Loss Prevention wouldn't do anything about it, so I had to call the cops.

- Someone tasered a shoplifter in front of me and they have questions.

- This really ugly guy exposed himself to me in the camera room and ran away.

- There was a standoff in the middle of the street right in front of the store between the cops and this crazy couple that stole a car.

- I accidentally got locked in the store after-hours and set the alarms off and now the store is surrounded and they have guns drawn because they think I broke in.

- Someone blew up our movie return box.

- A customer came in and printed out a bunch of her own pictures when I went on my lunch break.

- A customer told me she needed to breastfeed the baby in private and I left the room and before I could go back in she said that she needed to get a diaper from the car.  She never came back and I looked in the room and she stole our camera.

There are soooo many more, but these were the most entertaining that I can remember for now :D

Um... No

I was going to start this story off with the day that stuff actually went down, but I always like to give a little bit of background.  A few weeks before Thanksgiving I (a district manager for "Happy Time Portraits") brought my boss (the regional manager) to one of the biggest studios in my district to do a visit.  Business as usual.  Well, this particular day, the studio manager, Dave, decided he was going to be a giant prick.  During my last visit with Dave, I had given him clear instructions on things that needed to be fixed at his studio and when my boss and I got there he hadn't done any of them.  And he had a really great attitude about not having done any of them.  He was being down-right cocky and arrogant and I ended up having to write him up and give him a final warning that he needed to get his shit together.  We left the studio and my RM was just shocked at how rude he was and we were discussing alternate plans of action to take should he not get everything fixed.  I told her that it was going to be okay because I had a manager-in-training at that studio and I had a backup plan if need be. 

Well, one fateful day, the weekend before Thanksgiving, right before retail season gets its big start, I got a call from the Loss Prevention department of the store that the portrait studio was located in.  The man asked if I was the DM and when I told him that I was he said, "Okay, well I just thought that you'd like to know that we are gonna be taking two of your employees outta here in handcuffs in about an hour.  So, if you need to find someone to cover the store, now would probably be a good time." 

I sat there speechless for a few moments and told him that I was on my way down.  He wouldn't tell me which employees they were taking in and the store was about an hour away from my house.  I rushed down and when I finally got there the manager-in-training at the front counter said that some men from the main office had taken Dave away and they hadn't come back.  Wow.  Really?  That's just great!  The week before Thanksgiving and I don't have a manager for the busiest time of the year.  Well, at least I have my MIT to take over.  Or so I thought.

A few minutes later another man from LP came up to the studio and pulled me aside and let me know what had been going on.  He said that Dave had confessed to everything and then some (including some random-ass story of having a "past life" as a grifter--huh?).  Apparently over the last few months, he had been taking clothes and jewelry and all kinds of other things from the host store, but they couldn't prove it.  So they installed a covert camera in the studio's back room and caught him in the act.  What they didn't know was that another employee was doing the same thing.  When they told me that the other person was the MIT I almost shit a brick.

As soon as he finished talking to me they escorted her down for an interview and I had to watch the studio until I could find someone to cover.  As soon as the next employee got there the LP department called me and said that the MIT was requesting me to bring her purse and jacket down.  I brought it and while I was walking down the hall I looked out the window and watched them put Dave in the back of the squad car.  I couldn't believe he would do something so stupid.  I brought the girl her stuff and she looked incredibly ashamed.  I was angry and shocked, but I couldn't help but still feel sorry for her.

This left me in a really crappy situation and I was on the phone for hours trying to put a bandaid over this bullet wound.  I was able to get the store covered for the next week and a few days later I was able to find someone to take over the store permanently.  But I think the best part of all this was when I was driving home from the studio that night.

I get a call while I'm stuck in traffic and it was Dave.  He didn't realize that I had been at his store throughout the day and he called me as if nothing had happened. 

"Hey Vindi... I was just calling because there was an incident at the store today and, uh, I was wondering if I might be able to transfer to another location because there was some kind of misunderstanding and... um... I'm not exactly allowed back in the store again." 


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Worst Tag Line Ever

Okay, so this one isn't so much a retail story as it is a story of me working in our family business as a kid. 

When I was a kid my family ran a small animal business where we sold animals for pets, meat and show.  We had pretty much every kind of small animal you could think of: rats, mice, chinchillas--you name it, we probably had it.  But far and away our main thing was rabbits.  At the peak of our business we had over 150 rabbits.

I was a card carrying member of ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association), I won the Rabbit Bowl at the State Fair (with my awesomely nerdy team, Larger than Life Lagomorphs), I had my very own professional tattoo kit and I spent my weekends shoveling various kinds of poo out of cages and barns.  I was a hardcore 4-Her and FFAer.  Basically I was all about the small animal business from ages 8 to 18.

One day (I think I was like twelve) after finishing some sales at the local feed store, I was cleaning out the rabbit barn and was all excited about making what I thought was a huge sale.  I had been chatting it up with my mom and my brother and I was goofing around making ridiculous movie poster-type statements about how awesome I had been.  I was bragging about being a good salesperson, bragging about knowing so much about rabbits and bragging about being so great at cleaning out the nooks and crannies of the barn.  It was stupid and much to my dismay, the following came out of my mouth:

"When there are rabbits to sell--I'll be there.  When there are people who need to know about rabbits--I'll be there.  When there's poop in a crack that you can't clean out--I'll be there!" 

Yeah, they had a field day with that one.  I still hear about it to this day.  Good times.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rollback that Proposal, Wal-Mart Shopper!

Okay, so over the holiday season I had to complete a temp assignment inside of a Wal-Mart.  I got to the store a little bit early, so the employees were still on their lunch breaks and there was this guy waiting in the lobby, just sitting in the chair, sweating bullets.  He was wearing a nice collared shirt that it looked like he had just purchased and I figured he might be there to take some business shots.

I asked him if he needed help and he tells me that he's just waiting for his girlfriend in the bathroom, which checked out because the store was inside Wal-Mart, right next to the restrooms.  So, I'm getting out all of my paperwork and reviewing things in the store when suddenly the dude's girlfriend comes out of the bathroom and he asks her to sit down with him in the lobby.  By this point he has started sweating through his shirt and he was like a twenty-something white boy, so he was really red on top of that.  He kinda looked a hot mess. 

The store I'm visiting is really small, so I am only like five feet away from them and can hear everything that they're saying.  I tried so hard to focus on my work, but it was pretty much impossible after I heard the girl ask why the guy was acting so strangely.  He clears his throat about five times and finally starts talking saying, "Girl, you know, this has been a crazy year for me and you have been there for me through it all, and I just love you so much..."   And when I started to realize what was going on it was basically too late for me to leave. I was trapped there.  I saw the expression on the girl's face and I could tell that this was not going to fair well. 

Finally he pulls out this little red jewelry box and says, "And because of all that, I'd like to ask you:  Will you marry me?"  Inside of Wal-Mart.  Next to the bathroom.  In front of a total stranger who is five feet away from you.

She just looks absolutely horrified and she blurts out, "Oh... Oh, um, no... No..."  And before she can say anything else he gets up out of the seat, starts crying and jets into the bathroom leaving me alone out there with the super embarrassed girlfriend.  I didn't know what to say and she didn't know what to say, so all I could do was just try and figure out something to do with my paperwork even though I had already finished it. 

Time passes and finally about five minutes later the guy comes out of the bathroom and I think to myself, Okay, we look composed.  We can get our shit together and leave.  You can salvage this train wreck, dude.  You've got this.  But no.

He drops down on both knees a few feet from her and crawls over to her on his knees and literally begs this girl.  "Please, baby!  Please let me be your husband!  I just want to make you happy!"

Just when she thought that this couldn't get any worse, right?  She yells at him in that angry whisper voice that you use when you're truly mortified by someone, "Get off the damn floor!"  And she drags him up into the seat next to her.  Just then, the employees of the store come back from lunch and the guy working comes up to them and tries to approach them while the tension is at its thickest.  "Hey there, are you guys here to take some engagement pictures?" he asks them since the guy still has the ring out.  The girl shoots her boyfriend a dirty look, he starts crying again and I drag the employee to the other end of the very small store and say, "Not now, dude!  Not now!"

Finally the girlfriend had enough and she just starts yelling at him. "Dammit, Gerald! 'The hell you think you're doing?  Get yo' ass up!  We gonna discuss this shit at the bus stop!"  And she gets all of her bags together and drags him out of the store by the arm.  The last thing I hear is, "In a fuckin' Wal-Mart... Out of yo' damn mind, in a fuckin' Wal-Mart..."

That was some super sad shit, but I can't say that I blame her!

My Fave Excuses of 2012

Hey guys!  Sorry for such a long hiatus, but if you work retail, I'm sure you understand what an insane time of the year October through December can be.  Lots of cool stuff has been happening, including getting my first book published and finally getting my official webpage set up! ( in case you were wondering.)  But in the midst of all the cool writing stuff that I've been up to, a girl's still gotta earn a living and all kinds of interesting stuff happened over the last few months.  I can't wait to get you all caught up!  But for now, here's a list of my favorite excuses from this year.  Enjoy!

I can't come to work today because...

"I went to my babysitter's house and she slammed the door in my face because I started dating her ex-husband, so now I need a new babysitter."

"I was on my way to work and got stung by a bee in my car like twenty minutes ago and they had to take me to the ER and I got a shot and I would call you to tell you this, but my entire body has swollen up and I can't breathe.  I have a doctor's note... What do you mean you don't believe me?"  Bitch, you did NOT do all of that in twenty minutes.  And if you're so swollen how did you send me an essay of a text message?  Also, if you're allergic to bees, you usually keep medication around for that.  Grrrr.

"My car broke down."  Take the bus?  "I don't have any money."  Can a neighbor give you a ride?  "My neighbors hate me."  Okay, well, I have absolutely no coverage right now, so I will come and pick you up.  "I... Uh... *sigh*... Okay, fine..."  

I didn't show up today because...

"I got kidnapped last night, but I mean, I'm on my way now... Oh, well, I didn't want to press charges because it was my ex.  He just kind of drugged me and threw me in the back of his car and drove off, but I mean, really it wasn't that big of a deal.  He just gets a little crazy when he uses."  What???  Also, why is this the second time in two years I am hearing the kidnapping excuse??

"My neighbor's dog died underneath my car last night, but I didn't realize it and when I went to drive to work this morning I ran over the body and she's calling the cops on me because for some reason she thinks I did it."

"What do you mean?  I'm at work right now!"  Uh, I'm at your store right now and there's no one here... "Oh, well, I mean... What I mean is that I'm on my way to work right now..."

I need to go home early because...

"I started my period."  Okay, and?   "Well, you don't understand, Vindi.  I get my period really bad and I don't have any stuff with me, so it ruined my pants.  And I'm in a lot of pain right now."  Dude, I'm a chick too and it sucks.  You get your period once a month.  Be prepared with a tampon, or be prepared to be McGyver with what's available in the ladies room!

 "My family is having an emergency intervention for my sister and I have to be there."

This customer wants a refund because...

"She says that the world is going to end tomorrow and she doesn't need her pictures anymore, so she wants her money back."

"She says that her free picture didn't arrive on time."  Well what did she pay for?  "That's the thing!  She didn't spend any money and she is demanding a refund!"

"She says that I looked at her in a condescending manner so she should get a full refund and all of her product for free."

More stuff to come!  Welcome back "So Yeah" fans! :)