For the record, I’ve been a Brooks Brothers customer since I was four years old. Now that I’m four plus much-more-than-four, I find the sameness (and billowing proportions) of Brooks Brothers’ clothing comforting…and comfortable. Sure, they’ve branched out into various styles and colors and whatnot — including pastels and slim-cut shirts — but I walk past that trendy crap and head for the wall where they keep the good stuff: their original box cut, attached collar, button point, barrel cuff polo shirt known to the uninitiated as the “button-down dress shirt.”
It’s not a dress shirt, of course (the attached, button-down collar and barrel cuffs were “sporting” innovations for the rough-and-tumble demands of the cavalry officers’ game), but it’s appropriate for today’s business casual office. I’ve even seen some men wear them with suits. Brooks has sullied the design with the addition of a breast pocket, and cheapened it by reducing the placket from eight buttons to seven, but that’s the world we live in.
I buy my shirts in bulk on sale each year on December 26th. Per that tradition, I motored to my local Brooks Brothers outpost last Friday and ordered six “original polo” shirts — two each in blue & white stripes (my colors), crimson & white stripes (a necessary evil) and solid blue — in my size. My box of shirts arrived promptly at my home the following Tuesday — two solid blues, four crimson & white stripes and zero blue & white stripes — none in the correct size.
Rather than ship them back, etc., I returned them to the store so I could get an immediate credit and place a re-order. I was assisted (this time) by the one person who seemed to know what he was doing. He apologized for the mix-up, refunded my money, re-ordered the correct items, and promised to ship them to me overnight at Brooks Brothers’ expense. At least I hope that’s what happens, as he was interrupted no fewer than three times by a colleague who kept asking how to write up an order for another customer. My salesman esplaned to his colleague that he would be with her momentarily, but she kept coming back — each time sidling up cautiously as if that would change the fact that her colleague was helping another customer.
Meanwhile, a third salesperson was running herself ragged trying to retrieve the three shirts that a group of Spanish-speaking ladies had requested. This effort was complicated by the fact that the customers insisted on chattering away in Spanish and ignoring the saleswoman until finally pausing long enough to send her away again in search of another shirt. This behavior was demeaning to the saleswoman, and completely unnecessary. If I’d owned the shop, I would have tossed these “ladies” out.
That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Just another slice of life from someone looking forward to loading his old dog into his old car so he can drive to the hardware store in the slow lane and waive other people around. In the days of yore, I’d procure a sports jacket for this purpose, but since even gentlemen drive in their shirtsleeves these days…well…I just don’t know what.