‘How I handled being told I was too old to flirt’

Apr 06, 2019
How old is too old to be flirting? Source: Getty Images

I’m no oil painting. I’m 66 years old and just the wrong side of ‘a little overweight’. I am retired, but every now and then pick up a little part-time work in fashion retail for the ‘older’ lady. I found myself working in a newly opened, pop-up boutique, within walking distance from home. The head honcho and her ‘sidekick’ visited from interstate to train and advise. The boss was helpful, welcoming and convivial; her ‘sidekick’ was singing from another hymn book.

Did you ever meet someone who was in a position of authority and simply shouldn’t be? ‘Sidekick’ was the poster girl for a narcissistic personality disorder, but had purchased a franchise store, hence, mistakenly, the owner’s guru.

Recently, I served a lovely lady whose hubby was chatty, friendly and rather mischievous. My customer wanted to try on everything in the shop and I willingly obliged. Quite openly, hubby complimented me on my blue eyes and ‘other bits’. Nothing too untoward, but enough that, when the customer and I were alone in the fitting room, she apologised for her hubby’s ‘friendliness’. I laughed it all off.

As the sale was taking quite some time I asked the gentleman if I could get him a chair. He cheekily replied that my lap would do, to which I answered that we weren’t allowed in sit down on the job; a reply I considered appropriately mannered, but still jovial.

It was a huge sale and both husband and wife thanked me, promising to call again. Quietly, as I saw them to the door, the lady also thanked me for my discreet handling of her man’s sense of humour. We laughed.

The boss had to leave but congratulated me on such a great sale. I was feeling quite chuffed.

‘Sidekick’ was now sole boss and she turned all of her attention to me. In a not-so-quiet voice and in front of both customers and staff she announced, “We do not flirt with the customer’s husbands here!”

Her steely voice told me she wasn’t joking!

I was dumbstruck and stammering at the same time. What on earth was she talking about?!

Obviously she had caught bits and pieces of our innocent banter. “We do not tell husbands they can sit on our laps!” Excuse me?

Barely containing my anger, I did start to explain that she had it completely wrong. However, she loudly declared: “Anyway, you’re far too old to be flirting!”

Listen you little pea brain and hear me good. IF I were to flirt it wouldn’t be at work and certainly not with my boss within ear shot. IF I were to flirt it wouldn’t be with a married man simply out of respect to his wife. IF I were to flirt (mumble, inappropriate, grumble, profanities)!

Other staff and two customers tried to intervene on my behalf, but sidekick stormed off to the kitchen.

I usually opened the shop five days a week, covered lunch breaks, did the late night shopping shifts and most weekends. The boss was already at the airport, happy to be homeward bound, and sidekick was to catch the 7pm.

We Baby Boomers are blessed with a dedicated work ethic and a roll-with-the-punches thick skin. However, gobsmacked with white rage and determined to exhibit quiet dignity, I retrieved my bag from under the counter, placed my shop key on the cash register and walked out.

Bless you sweet Karma, mistress of ‘you’ll get yours’. I’m sure quite coincidentally the business went bankrupt and this erroneously-branded ‘old flirt’ thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant, score-settling taste of vindication.

Sidekick: you messed with an old girl and that’s ‘flirting’ with danger.

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