Have you ever wondered why that little hole with poor ventilation, bad lighting, old socks smell and trick mirrors is called a ‘trial’ room? Oops, looks like I have already answered that one!
Of course, some pretentious shops do call them changing rooms, but old wisdom named them trial rooms and with good reason. Studies indicate that at certain times of the month women tend to weigh as much as three kilos more than usual. Add to that the factor that fashion changes every evening, and what you have, are long lines outside trial rooms which were actually phone booths now converted to trial rooms because women are so clever and have finally discovered that one size doesn’t fit all!
While most retailers spend millions on dressing up windows and the interiors of stores, the changing rooms are a different story altogether. Often one has to stop and ask for directions to a changing room. While the ‘Pay Here’ counter is lit up in neon at center stage, attended by women with glittering, beady eyes, the Trial Room is tucked away in some unobvious corner with a sign that can only be noticed when you are standing directly below it!
And of the people attending there, what can one say, there aren’t any!
A singular sour faced attendant usually stands at the head of the long line, much like the middle-aged matron of a girls’ only hostel. Her sole duty will be to count the number of items you carry, thump a corresponding number tag in your hand and then ignore you. If you should be so silly as to ask her if there is a changing room free, she will give you a blank stare or maybe a ‘you lowly slug’ look and mutter something that you don’t understand. Sometimes she may raise a hand full of clothes and number tags and you may duck, thinking she is swinging at you, but the poor overburdened creature is merely pointing in the general direction of six trial rooms. All you have to do is now knock on each and find out if it is free. I have often wondered whether changing room duty is something they dish out as disciplinary action to errant sales staff.
Men don’t really understand why women take so long. After all a size 44 collar is easy to shop for. But pick up a size eight pair of jeans. Try squeezing into them. When you have wiggled every which way and still can’t get into them, you bravely peek out and attempt to catch the eye of a sales attendant. Now, if you were just window shopping there would be at least three converging on you. But right now – nobody. Then you struggle with the decision of stepping out in these jeans that don’t zip up, let alone button or whether to get back into your original pair and go out and look for a bigger size. Step out, even for a minute, and you may loose the only trial room that bolts on the inside, so you call out loudly for help. A sales attendant glares at the pair that didn’t fit. Tugs at the label and then announces to the entire store. “This is a size eight, you need at least a size twelve.” And if she is in a particularly mean mood, she’ll announce even more loudly “ We don’t make those sizes, this is the biggest!”
Some stores treat trial rooms like something they only thought of at the last minute. Almost like stating “ What’s to try, we stitched them together, now take them home and if we don’t exchange or refund, just come back and buy a dozen in different sizes!”
The trial rooms in these stores are so small, you might bruise yourself if you breathe out! And there must be some logic to how three mirrors in a one and half feet cubicle will help you see the fit, when your nose hits the mirror if you just turn your neck!
There are those that have no hooks or hangars on which you can put up your clothes. Just dump them down, any way you’re buying new ones!
But the worst ones are definitely the ones that have no doors! Yes, that’s right, no doors! And these aren’t stores in some old souk, where the termites got to the changing room before you did. These are international brands that consider their clientele so open-minded that they don’t need doors. So, while you are struggling into that bosom hugging, not-so-stretchy halter neck, wearing the size eight jeans that doesn’t zip, let alone button, the curtains suddenly part. A perfect size six looks at you, giggles and says ‘Sorry’ before moving on, to inflict hurt and pain on the size sixteen next door, that you had nearly walked in on! “Hey lady…” You want to scream. “Drawn curtains mean ‘in use’.” But what’s the point, size sixteen is already screeching that out!
Like some famous person said, “ Let’s not be so open minded that our brains fall out!”