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Do I Look Like I Work Here?

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.

No-one's asking this guy for help, via the hilarious/horrifying People of Walmart.

Dear Walmart Shoppers,

I know: Walmart stores are huge. And, generally, they're places where one can't often find sales assistance out on the floor—with the exception of that one guy in electronics and the lady who mixes paint.

Which, yes, can be frustrating. But you shop Walmart for cheap—not for their personal concierge services. Instead, look for those price scanner things; or those call center customer service phones placed every once in an aisle. They're red.

Don't get frustrated. And don't just wander around, using your cart full of Fanta and cat food as a walker, asking people who clearly do not work at Walmart if they work at Walmart.

Maybe you can see where this is going.

Recently, I was in a Walmart. And, whatever, I may occasionally swing snobbish—but who hates a bargain? I love Walmart, and if I'm in the suburbs, have access to a car, a few free hours, and a need for cleaning supplies or undershirts—I'm going to Walmart.

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The summer sun was shining as I blasted the Bangles, windows down, in a borrowed Ford Taurus. The sunglasses were on, the shorts were short, the shirt was floppy and gingham. And I was on my way to Walmart.

I was really only running in for said undershirts—but it's a slippery slope at a place like Walmart. The prices are just insane—especially coming from New York where a little tin of almonds can set you back $6. So, I ended up with a cart; I ended up staying awhile. I was meandering through hardware towards the light bulbs when it happened: A woman—the woman using her cart full of Fanta and cat food as a walker—asked me if I worked there.

Let me paint a picture: Here I am, pushing around six tins of almonds ($2.50 each), a five-pack of undershirts (under $11), two bags of those cotton cosmetic pad things ($1.10 each), alcohol-free witch hazel toner ($4.50), Clueless on DVD* ($7), a twin-pack of digital camo bandanas ($1.10), and a navy blue v-neck with thin white stripes that, if anyone asks, came from a vintage store in Paris ($6.40); wearing cuffed-to-the-hilt shorts, a periwinkle gingham shirt and sunglasses; clutching an iPhone clad in a polka dot case; and carrying a huge L.L.Bean tote bag with a giant whale on it. Clearly the very portrait of an on-the-clock Walmart employee—on duty and eager to help.

My response was an incredulous "no." And I walked away, with my almonds, pretty shocked: I mean, for one thing, don't Walmart employees have uniforms? Don't they wear those bright royal blue polyester smock/vest/apron things? I was wearing periwinkle. And I don't wear synthetic fibers. Nowhere on my person was there a yellow, grinning smiley face or a name tag. I mean, I had sunglasses on.

And it brought me back to college, when one of my best friends and I would often be shopping (obviously). If we were at Diesel or Lacoste (shut-up, it was 2001), she would almost always be mistaken for a store associate. At the Salvation Army or the cheap, ghetto grocery store on the wrong side of the tracks, I would almost always be mistaken for a store associate. Despite her being the person who very clearly took dressing less seriously; despite the fact that I was the one who might've been wearing the stupid Diesel jeans.

And, obviously, it doesn't matter. More than anything else, it's just a funny thing that happens (all the time, forever, I could be wearing Tom Ford). And I have nothing against anyone working at Walmart, or Salvation Army, or the Market Basket grocery store in Somerville, Massachusetts. At one time I actually did work at a supermarket (where I wore a uniform: A tie, a red apron and a nametag).

So, here's a tip: When you need help at Walmart, look for the royal blue uniforms; the price scanners; the help phones. Look for aprons and nametags. Don't wander about asking anyone who walks by, willy-nilly, whether or not they can help you determine if something is or isn't on sale.

And to the Fanta/cat food woman: The whole thing made a great anecdote later that night. So, thanks for that, I guess. My brother-in-law asked to use my discount. I refused: The almonds are cheap enough.

* I know, I can't believe I didn't already own it either.

· Love, Frank [Racked]