The other day, I was perusing a few aisles of a retail clothing store when I caught the eye of a hard working mannequin. Actually, he had no eye. He didn’t even have a head. He was one of those headless mannequins, standing there with his well defined biceps and smoothly severed neck. How he was able to maintain his muscular definition simply by standing there, for all of eternity, and with no brain function to indicate that he must get some physical activity, was truly a mystery to me. Despite him not having eyes, it felt as if he were staring at me, imploring me to spend money on the tight fitting t-shirt he was modeling. Or, he was crying out for help.
Around the corner of the headless John Doe, came another mannequin, this one with a head, but with an empty look in his eyes. I couldn’t help but feel sad for this particular mannequin as he truly seemed to have become resigned to his retail fate.
There were a plethora of mannequins in the store that day. Bosomed female mannequins wearing bathing suits, child mannequins wearing summery tank tops, muscular male mannequins wearing seersucker shorts. There was even a dog mannequin, which was highly strange as this particular store sold no animal products.
These overworked and underpaid mannequins are people too, I thought. It was at that time that I felt compelled to be a voice for these stoic victims of retail abuse.
“Excuse me,” I said to the store employee, Holden. “I want that t-shirt,” as I pointed to the mannequin in the distance.
“We have plenty of different sizes on the shelf over there,” said Holden.
“No, no. I want the one he is wearing.”
Holden seemed puzzled. Perhaps he thought that I had a mannequin fetish and this was just an opportunity for me to see one shirtless. This was not the case. I felt that by literally taking the shirt off this mannequin’s back, it would give him an opportunity to wear something different; to make him feel human, even if just for a moment.
“But sir,” said Holden. “The size shirt he is wearing is a medium. You clearly wear a bigger size.”
“How dare you question the customer in these matters, Holden,” I said angrily. “The customer is always right. Besides, I’m buying this shirt for my petite friend.” I was proud of my last second, instant credibility fib. In truth, I have no petite friends.
“Oh, okay,” he responded. “We have medium sizes on the shelf as well.”
“Holden,” I said condescendingly, while staring at him.
He uncomfortably removed the shirt from mannequin John Doe and then quickly dressed him in different shirt, a buttoned-down jean shirt. Had this mannequin been able to see the events transpiring, I am certain his eyes would’ve expressed gratitude for my sacrifice. Since he was severed at the neck however, I can only speculate.
I paid Holden an exorbitant price for a shirt that was much too small for me to wear, and I left the store with an empty wallet but with a full heart, knowing I did something good for someone. Well, sort of someone.