Shop ’til You…Get Arrested?? (Part II)

by Debra Chappell

I stomped around New York City in the pouring rain virtually all day.  Having discovered that Bergdorf Goodman was in fact a high-end department store and not a law firm, I satisfied my curiosity there and then set out to shop in earnest.  Of course along the way, I had to sample the NYC culture by stopping for another piece of cheese cake here, a double-mocha latte there, and several chocolate covered tid-bits along the way.  I had made my way to Macy’s to check out the truly remarkable moving holiday window displays, (or so I had convinced myself) and left a couple of hundred dollars later with a pair of very sexy black knee-high boots and a killer sweater.

Being exhausted, wet, hungry, and a tad remorseful, I decided that Champagne and soup at the top of the Bergdorf sounded mighty fine after all.  I departed Macy’s on 34th for the trek up 5th Ave to Bergdorf Goodman, just as the storm intensified and darkness fell.  It was the third time that day I would hoof the same 23 blocks in the driving rain so you can imagine how I must have looked.  My umbrella threatened to reverse itself yet again and I kept it from doing so by holding on to the tip of one of the steel tines.  I struggled with my large Macy’s shopping bag that held my newly coveted purchases, and had to juggle it, my purse and brolly the best I could, dodging puddles, other pedestrians and the dirty spray of water being thrown up from passing

traffic.  I trudged for blocks in the crowd, the rain starting to pour down in sheets, raising my umbrella over heads and other umbrellas while keeping my head down and eyes focused.  Finally, after what seemed like forever, I stopped and leaned under an awning to catch my breath.  I looked up through the dimness of the deluge to see I had made it up to 49th St.  – only a few blocks to go!  With the constant refrain of “Champagne and soup” playing repeatedly in the back of my mind and propelling me forward with each step, I nearly sprinted the remaining 9 blocks to B-G.   I glanced up in relief when I had finally made it to 58th St. and dashed into the corner entrance at 58th and 5th.  Soaked to the core and looking like a drowned rat, I tried to retract my umbrella which was now stubbornly fixed in the ‘open’ position. While wrestling with all of my belongings, the bottom of my drenched Macy’s bag split wide open spilling the contents into the middle of the very wet entry floor.  I looked around helplessly as I realized that the brolly was “stuck”, my boots and a newly purchased sweater were laying in a puddle on the floor, and I and my mess were blocking the revolving door to what I now realized must be the jewelry department.

I was besieged immediately by a burly security guard with an ear piece connected to his breast pocket and a concerned look on his face.  He rushed over and standing over me asked, “Madam, is there some way we can help you?” while I was kneeling on the wet floor retrieving my now dirty articles. I was relieved for his offer to help and waited for his hand to assist me in getting up from the floor – which he didn’t extend.  Instead, he turned slightly and shot a panicked look over to his just as burly colleague who quickly rushed over for re-enforcement of what they obviously surmised was a security threat. (Must have been those damned boots!)  Picking myself up off of the slippery floor (along with the bits and pieces of the shredded red Macy’s bag), I brushed off my drenched coat and explained that I was sorry for making a scene but my umbrella was broken. I politely requested to leave it in the corner as I only wanted to grab a bite to eat at their restaurant upstairs and wouldn’t be long.

With a look that spelled trouble with a capital “T”, the second security guard scowled at me as he puffed his chest and said sternly “We do NOT have a restaurant Madame, and you will have to remove your umbrella…immediately,” as he gently grabbed me by the elbow.

Now panicking myself, I looked from one husky guy to the other with imploring eyes. I realized the mistake and naively tried to explain, “No, no…you don’t understand, I just want to eat on the 7th floor, you know, over looking Central…”

By this time, most of the clientele and sales personnel had looked up from their lit glass display cases, now more interested in the ensuing debacle than the glittering precious stones beneath their fingertips. The 2nd guard said, “No Madam, you are mistaken, we have no restaurant.  Now please remove your…”

“Wait a minute!” A youngish saleslady with a kind face walked over to us, “She means the restaurant at Bergdorf Goodman,” and looking sympathetically over to me added,  “don’t you?”

“yes…yes! I was here earlier and even looked at the menu.” I explained, my heart beating loud as a kettle drum and my face flushing bright red as the room fell silent and every person in it set their upscale eyes on me, as I dripped a small puddle of my own onto the entry floor.

The original security guard intervened and literally looking down his nose explained in a ridiculously arrogant voice saturated with condescension, “Madame, you are standing in Van Cleef and Arpels, (the hoitiest of toity jewelry stores!) Bergdorf Goodman is next door, you’ll have to take your umbrella, go outside and re-enter through…”

He was abruptly cut off by the kindly salesperson, “Don’t be silly, it’s pouring!” she said, dismissing both burly guys with a look that could kill.  “Come with me, we can go through the back here, it’s connected to the Bergdorf – and leave that umbrella where it is, I’ll keep an eye on it!”

Following her lead I sashayed through the middle of the now quiet, glittering store ignoring the scornful looks fixed in my direction, tossing my soaked head and flipping my dripping hair as I went.

When we had reached the appropriate escalator, she turned around and smiled sweetly at me as I shook her hand and thanked her profusely.  She brushed it all off with aplomb and grace and said,  “try the Lobster Bisque, it’s to die for!”

I did, and she was right.  I had two glasses of Champagne as well.  The 4 ladies at the table next to me were having afternoon tea with a variety of sweets served on a towering 3-tier silver serving dish.  They had obviously been caught in the rain as well and decided to wait it out in style.  They even offered me one of their treats.  As I sat there savoring my Champagne, another chocolate and the spectacular city view, I had to smile at what had taken place downstairs.  The more I thought about it, the more amused I became. Then I started chuckling out loud.  This would make a great story.

When I left the restaurant to head back to my hotel, I stopped in the same corner entrance of Van Cleef and Arpels to retrieve my umbrella.  I caught the eye of the original Security Guard who quickly looked away as I picked it up. I headed back down 5th Avenue vowing that if and when I ever got my book published, I’d write the whole thing down in vivid detail and incorporate it into my next novel.

But then again, why wait?

One thing’s for certain though, if I ever have a hankering for a little bauble or glittering trinket, I’ll be shopping at Tiffany!