Here’s another story that I posted in my old blog, but I feel I have to transfer here for the sake of completeness, and also because this blog gets about 1,500 hits a day compared to 150 for my old one 6 months ago.
Back in January, I was in Pret on Oxford Street with Scott and RF. I was about to have a casting for the cover of Men's Fitness (of course I didn't get it), so I was just looking at the food, but I couldn't eat any. I was in a mood.
At that point, I see a guy and a girl looking at me from another table. I think nothing of it, but then the guy comes up to me and tells me he works for Abercrombie, and asks me if I’d like to work in their new store which was opening in London. The position would be a "model", i.e. somebody who just stands around wearing Abercrombie clothes and sort of represents the brand. He thought my look would fit that. Let's call the guy Alex (because that’s his real name).
I don’t know what representing the brand means exactly, but I guess in the case of Abercrombie it has a lot to do with looking like something a 45-year-old closeted gay man might choose to masturbate over, when his wife rolls over and falls asleep.
As if my normal 9 to 5 job weren’t enough to keep me busy, and never wanting to miss an opportunity for ridicule, I say OK and we arrange an "interview" in a couple of weeks time.
At the interview the following things happen:
- It’s a group thing with 8 of us being there at the same time. At 27 I am the oldest and the only one with a proper job. Everyone else is a “model” or “student” (non-science degrees obviously). I realize that even though I’m in a completely different demographic to those people, I must have a similar look, otherwise I wouldn’t have been scouted on the street just like they were. So basically it’s only my fault that I look like that and Alex thought I would fit in there (i.e. on first sight I must come across vacant, shallow and stupid)
- The moment I face the woman conducting the interview I can feel a mutual antipathy. She is wearing flip flops, sitting cross-legged ON the desk (I’m not making this up) and has a completely transparent faux-breezy attitude. So breezy I’m starting to get chills. She’s easy to see through though and her fake enthusiasm about EVERYTHING is making me feel uncomfortable. Being melancholic and introverted by nature I know this isn’t a good match. She can tell that I’m seeing through her and her smile seems a bit more strained every time she looks at me. I know I don’t have this “job”
- The interview itself is ridiculously contrived of course. We get asked what the Abercrombie brand means to us (having written my MSc dissertation on sportswear advertising I know more on this than the numerous 19-year-old Danish models I’m surrounded by), what “diversity” means and other such drivel. We get also asked to role play with a customer. It’s very cringe-worthy
Sadly I don’t remember the name of the woman, but if anyone has also been interviewed at Abercrombie London by a short, English, blonde, pseudo-enthusiastic woman with a sunny Californian attitude but dark, menacing middle-England undertones, please enlighten me. For the time being I’ll call her Kimberlee (she changed it from Ruth when she got the Abercrombie job).
Two weeks later they ring me and say I haven’t been successful as a model, but would I like to work as a cashier instead? This isn’t a huge surprise, but it is a bit degrading. What happened between being "scouted" and going to the "interview"? Had I gotten uglier? I really don't fancy myself as a professional model (blatantly) but it's them who approached me about the position first. And I don't see how my performance at the interview got me demoted from model to cashier. Did I not appear vacant enough?
I decide to go along with it (instead of showing I’m annoyed) and tell the guy on the phone – sure, I'd love to come and fold clothes for a living. So he asks me to go back to Abercrombie and meet the team etc. I go there a few days later.
So I walk in and the following things happen. Alex (the guy who discovered me) is stood at the entrance. He greets me. The place is packed with new employees (models and cashiers) possibly about 100 people. We are supposed to mingle and network. I chat to a couple of model girls, who are actually nice. Kimberlee is there mingling heavily, and she only sees me just before I leave, and says: “Ah shame, I didn’t get the chance to talk to you”. In an ideal world where I am quick-witted I say “That’s alright, you’ve done enough for me already”. In the real world I smile back embarrassed and leave.
On the way out, I speak to Alex and ask him what happened and I was demoted from model to cashier. He is quite uncomfortable and says I should call the office, explain the situation and ask. He is very quick to brush me off obviously.
I had no intention of taking up the cashier job, but I went so I could confront them and ask what happened. I had nothing to lose, because I get enough money from my job and don't need weekend pocket money.
Incidentally, models and cashiers get paid £6.50 an hour to work there. I can live without that.
Having a boring, empty life, I can’t let this go so when I get home later that evening, I write a very sarcastic and arrogant email to Abercrombie. I don't expect a reply, but I'm sure I've given them something to laugh about in the pub.
The next day I’m very excited to see they have replied. Here's what Dominique (don't know who that is), says:
"Morning London Preppy, Please let me clarify the situation for you. Firstly you are under no obligation to accept the position you are offered. The Model position you applied for is not based solely on looks but on personality and the answers you give to the questions asked. Apologies for the confusion and that your application was unsuccessful. I am presuming you are now not interested in taking any part-time position with us. Dominique"
So I guess they're saying that it's not how I look that cost me the job (that I didn't apply for), but it's actually that my personality sucks. That does make me feel much better, I must say.
I reply to this (because I'm a fool?) saying that no, of course I'm not interested in taking a part-time job folding clothes when I was initially offered a model position and Dominique hits back with:
“Thank you for your interest in Abercrombie & Fitch. Unfortunately you were unsuccessful in your model application. You are more than welcome to apply for another position at any time. Many Thanks Dominique"
I end the Abercrombie communication with a final email (because I’m a petty cunt) where I make implications about Alex’s sexuality and suggest that next time he feels horny he should have a wank instead of cruising sandwich shops to pick up boys by promising them modeling jobs.
All this happened back in January as I said, and at the time I was quite pissed off, but right now (it’s taken me a few months but I got there) I think it’s actually quite hilarious.
I do miss Kimberlee though, I would have loved to work for her. She could teach me a lesson or two about shaking off your heritage and emulating a different country’s culture (with variable success) in a completely fake way that’s never going to work (as I’m also trying to do).
I have 1 song by Bel Amour and I've played it 2 times
I have 2 songs by Belinda Carlisle and I've played them 5 times
I have 17 songs by Belle & Sebastian and I've played them 268 times