Tuesday 31 January 2012

A Tuesday Tale - collar, cuffs and crotch

Ha! I bet that caught your attention :)

The background, for eight years or more I worked a Saturday afternoon shift in our local charity (thrift) shop, which raises much needed funds for a nearby Hospice. I was still working full time during the week at the time but it sure beat doing housework for at least a few hours of the weekends :)

I found this free image above on the internet, but I can promise you that it was very rare for any clothing to cost as much as £10!

My first day was a bit of a baptism of fire, to say the least. The 'retail manager' who oversaw the groups of shops, he was called Gary, came along to give three of us 'newbies' the low down and the rules to be followed. He was a larger than life sort of guy - with a heart of gold I later found out - but, he knew what he wanted us to do. First action, with bags of donated clothing, was to do a quick sort  and check - quite often you'd open a bag and realise right away that it would only be fit for recycling. We got paid per tonne for recycled textiles, so the first sort was important to weed out the wheat from the chaff so to speak.

As a good little group of pretty innocent 'newbies' we gathered in front of Gary (yours truly at the back!) and he explained just how to check clothing and textiles over before they were priced, steamed (a job hated by everyone) and put out for sale. Curtains had to be checked for wear and tear, then measured before being put out for sale. No dirty underwear (trust me, we did get that too!), towels held up to the light for signs of light showing through - ones that didn't pass the test ended up in a big basket for doggy towels and they sold like hot cakes - were all buttons still on garments, did zips work, and so on and so forth.

Then came the real drama of the afternoon - checking men's suits. With a big flourish and a donated suit Gary demonstrated the actions 'Collar, to check there is no shine or grime, cuffs for no fraying' and then, with great drama 'Finally the crotch, which you have to sniff for no nasty smells''.

WHAT!!?? I was still standing at the back of our little group and I swear that it's the very moment I knew what was meant by a rictus grin. With a silly tight smile and eyes popping out on stalks like a frightened rabbit in the headlights of a car, I nodded dumbly, along with the other two poor little scared newbies. Then I thought, 'fight or flee?' and almost ran to my car and drove home, never to return.

But, I got cute and, once I could speak again I squeaked 'Err, so who operates the clothes steaming machine?'. Sensing an idiot, in his midst Gary took me under his wing and I soon became 'Mrs Steamer' - trust me, it had to be better than sniffing crotches!! Despite the scalds, from a rubbish machine which had a grudge against me, ANYTHING was preferable to the dreaded sniffing routine!

Sorry, hope you weren't trying to have a morning cuppa, or even worse eating your breakfast!

Bit of a change from a cocktail party at Number 11 Downing Street huh?!

More will follow :)



  1. Yet again you have brightened my day, was sat here feeling sorry for myself but not anymore. Hugs, Amanda x

  2. As someone who has also worked, albeit briefly, in a charity shop, I can sympathise! Although it was for babies and children up to 13yrs, so no 'sniffing' required!! Hilarious as ever Di.....Happy Tuesday! xxx

  3. I am sat here chuckling away. I've done more than my share of sniffing in my time...being a midwife it was essential to sniff to check whether a lady in labour's waters had gone or had she just pee'd herself in all the excitement!....been there done that :-) :-) I think between us we could write that book Di.
    A x

  4. Oh Di . . . you are hilarious! The things you've done! The high life at No 11 one week, and the low life in the Charity shop, steaming away the next!

    Perhaps you and Annie should collaborate on a book?


  5. Di - you do have some tales to share - I can just imagine that shop and you giggling at the back of it!!!

  6. Another laugh from you I could just see the look on your face when told about the sniffing.

    Next time I go into a charity shop I will think of your story.!!!

  7. Hello Di, just stopped for a tea-break and thought I'd pop over and see what your Tuesday Tale was this week ... almost spluttered my tea all over the keyboard :)) You're a real pick-me-up Di - your life seems to have gone from the sublime (canapes at No.11)to the ridiculous (dirty underwears and sniffing crotches. Clearly, charity shop volunteers are an awesome lot! Elizabeth x

  8. Oh Di,
    You are one priceless gem!!! I wonder how many actually smelled the crotches?!? I skip the underwear pile at my local thrift store - although there's a bedspread there that I almost bought last Saturday that I'm still thinking about.....


  9. Oh Di you can tell a tale. You know I love those shops, I'll never go in one again without thinking there is some pour soul sniffing crotches in the back. You've sure put a smile on my face this AM.

  10. Hello Di I am still laughing and can hardly wait for the next episode.

  11. Wasn't it great when we were all innocents.
    Now if you hadn't been so innocent then in one way you could be classed as the original 'steam punk'
    Must make a note to wash my underware before I send it to a Charity shop! lol
    Who the hell sends underware?

    Kath x

  12. Hi Di

    Oh you did make me smile.

    I shall think of your story every time I walk passed a Charity shop.

    I used to do some sewing work from home when the boys were little and a local dry cleaners were advertising for an alteration hand .. .. I could do that!!

    Went in and was given a selection of clothes to "repair".

    I took them home and duly repaired them all. But there were a pair of men's trousers that needed a new zip.

    I thought all clothes would have been cleaned .. but no .. some people only want repairs.


    I repaired that pair (heaving all the way through) .. returned everything to the shop .. took a lovely pay packet off them but said I couldn't continue.

    They were gutted!! They must have thought they had found a mug and half!!

    I think I would have volunteered for the steamer in your place too Di!

    Love your stories.

    Love Jules xx

  13. sorry luvvy , would NOT be going THAT far for charity.


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