Lake Forest Reads: Ragdale Writing Contest
Winning entry: Save the Blue Copies by Susan Barrere
The buying office was in an old fitting room on the fifth floor, behind the registers in Women’s Petites. When she first got promoted to assistant buyer, Claire was disappointed to see it – in some spots, there were still tarnished brass hooks on the wall, where sales staff had once hung carefully selected garments for customers to try on. After almost a year, however, she had grown used to it. The mismatched metal desks, the office chairs in various states of disrepair, the low-level haze and stink from the cigarettes that Lynn insisted on smoking at her desk – all were part of her everyday routine now. Taking the train in from her Evanston apartment, the long walk from the station to save the $3 cab ride, and finally approaching from State Street, the majestic building coming into view, the iconic green clock on the corner – from the outside, all was grandeur and elegance.
Inside the office, however, all was business. At this point in January, most of the buyers were in New York for market week, their assistants left behind, scrambling to get merchandise in for the upcoming Field Days sale. Claire, however, had confirmed all her deliveries with the warehouse before she left the office late on Friday. She didn’t want anything getting in the way of her plans for Super Bowl ’86. She had been in a state of high excitement the entire week, barely able to concentrate on getting Martha the reports she needed for her New York appointments. Instead her head buzzed with anticipation for Super Bowl Sunday and the huge party she would be attending at the Ultimate Sports Bar. This was the event she had been looking forward to for months, even years. And the game did not disappoint – the Bears were dominant, and long-suffering Bears fans celebrated exuberantly, Claire among them. As a lifelong fan, she was still basking in the victory when she got to work on Monday morning.
She entered the office, cheeks pink from the cold, opened her mouth to rehash the Bears’ thrashing of the Patriots, and was promptly shushed by Lynn holding up a finger and gesturing to the phone.