Good old Marshalls

Fern needed some black clothes for her orchestra concert so we stopped at Marshalls today. I only shop there once or twice a year. Whenever I walk in, I usually think the same thing.

Good old Marshalls.

But today I had a new thought.

Has that sign always said ‘Rockford’ on it?

Many years ago (1996-2001), I worked for Marshalls; the one in the City Center in downtown Minneapolis. I do not recall our sign having “Minneapolis” on it but maybe I just missed it because many things happen at once when you work at Marshalls.

Working retail has a bad reputation but it’s a decent place to earn some money and benefits if you’re a writer or really any artist. You see, feel and experience so much. But it could get rough at ‘my’ Marshalls. I got spit on, hit on, shoved and yelled at.

Good old Marshalls.

I witnessed two horrific immigration raids in 2001. And one Sunday, a couple guys held up the closing staff. They tied up the women, pointed guns at them and stole several thousands of dollars in cash.

Good old Marshalls.

I saw an employee (a woman) get arrested for stealing panties and a manager (also a woman) get fired for misappropriation of funds. I can’t remember any men ever getting in trouble there but I remember many men who were nothing but trouble.

Good old Marshalls.

But there was so much fun to be had. Marshalls was staffed with awesome people (mostly women) from Minneapolis, of course, but also Mexico, Sudan, Japan, Russia, Tibet and other countries I’m forgetting right now. We laughed a lot. I worked side-by-side with all ages, starting with 16-year-olds all the way up to Barbara, a septuagenarian who drank shots of Listerine throughout her shift. In many ways, I grew up there. I learned so much about what my dad referred to as “the human condition.”

I certainly don’t regret working there but I will never go back to retail. I paid my dues, thanks. But I don’t mind shopping there once or twice a year because it’s a good place to find a bargain. Fern bought the pants and sweater you see in the photograph plus a pair of strappy, high heels for $50 and some change. And she’s going to look great at her concert.

Good old Marshalls!

Thanks for reading my late night blog. -Connie

Fern in the fitting room.

I’ll never forget the clicks

It’s nearly 11:00 at night but I’m writing about something I read (twice) in the local paper this morning.

As you know, another variant of the coronavirus is making its way through Europe and there is concern that it will eventually contaminate the United States. That is important information and I appreciate the media’s coverage…to an extent. In two separate stories, the variant was referred to as an “omicron sibling.”


Language like this reminds me of the first time I heard my manager Becky from Marshalls refer to one of her subordinates as “the red-headed stepchild.” That was in 1996 and I remember the moment because I had to ask her what it meant.

“It’s someone who’s not wanted, Connie,” she said as she walked away from me. “Like a stepchild.

Becky didn’t like me and was always in a state of walking away from me.

“You can take your break now,” she’d say as she walked away from me in her pumps. “Don’t forget to punch out!”

Click, click, click, click.

“You need to mark down the rugs.” Click, click, click, click. “I’m tired of looking at them!”

“Freshen up your end cap.” Click, click, click, click. “It’s ugly as sin!”

It’s been nearly thirty years since I’ve seen her. I don’t know if I’d recognize her from the front, but I’m certain I could pick her out of a lineup of people who were walking away from me. I can still hear the clicks. I’ll never forget the clicks.

Anyway, after Becky explained “red-headed stepchild” to me and walked away, I wondered what part of “red-headed stepchild” was so awful? The red hair? Was it that at least one of the child’s parents had remarried? Or was it because the person with the red hair was a child?

You’d think we could leave “red-headed stepchild” in the 90’s but I’ve heard the euphemism as recently as a year ago from an educator in a university setting. She referred to an entire department as “the red-headed stepchild.” That was in 2021. And this morning, a potentially deadly virus was referred to as a “sibling.”

Do we really need to refer to people (or situations) we don’t appreciate as siblings or stepchildren? If so, how is it that siblings and stepchildren are the root of an adult’s idea of evil?

Thanks for “clicking” through my blog, which is basically the red-headed stepchild of writing. Or is my blog the infectious sibling? -Connie