How Do You Rate on the F.R.I.E.N.D. Scale? Fitting Room Intelligence, Etiquette, and (In)Decency

This is not a warm and fuzzy friendship quiz. This is a hilarious rant cleverly disguised as a lighthearted personality inventory. Think for a moment: The last time I was out trying on clothes in a department store fitting room, how did I behave? Keep track of your answers to the following statements, or scroll to the bottom to skip the silly quiz entirely and read my Fun Fitting Room Facts.

When I’m shopping for new clothes, I like to try on…

  1. All the clothes that my significant other/parent/friend thinks would look “cute” on me. I honestly cannot make a decision by myself.
  2. As many clothes as I possibly can. I wheel my overflowing cart into the dressing room with me, blatantly ignoring the “5 Items or Less” sign posted at the dressing room entrance.
  3. Clothes that smell good or clothes with lots of pockets (I need pockets for all of my bananas and shiny objects that I like to carry at all times).
  4. Just a few items, just to make sure the sizes and colors are right for me.
  5. Nothing. I take my selections straight to the cash registers. If something doesn’t fit right, I might return it later, or make my wife return it for me. Or I pretend nothing’s wrong with the too-short jeans, and wear them every day for the next five years, until everyone complains that they can see my underwear through the holes in the back pockets.

While I’m in the fitting room, I…

  1. Squeal or curse. Take selfies and text my friends. Stick my gum to the fitting room mirror or draw a smiley face on the wall in permanent marker. Leave all my stuff—stinky shoes and all—in the dressing room while I go back out to the sales floor to search for a different pair of pants. Parade around the department, showing off my clothes to friends and family, whining “This makes me look fat!” even though I’m a size zero and plan on purchasing the clothes I’m wearing.
  2. Sweat on everything. Eat Cheetos and change my tampon.
  3. Grunt loudly. Wheeze. Fart. Cram my butt into a size-four pair of jeans and break the zipper. Search under the fitting room bench for candy or shiny objects, and discover only used tissues, price tags, and dead roly-polys swathed in lint and hair.
  4. Try on a few items as quickly as possible.
  5. Am cursing my wife or girlfriend who made me try on the clothes. All of the jeans and all of the slacks and all of the flannel shirts look exactly the same to me. I’ll take the same ones I always buy. I’m not interested in trying anything different.

I prefer to try on clothes…

  1. With at least five friends in the fitting room with me. It’s fun when we all try on the same hideous dress. We gossip and drop the “f” bomb indiscriminately. It’s not like anyone can hear us when we’re inside a fitting room, with the door locked.
  2. With my newborn baby and toddler. That way I can shove merchandise in the baby’s diaper bag and send the toddler out to distract the sales associate while I’m stuffing baby clothes down my jeans. Okay, so maybe I won’t steal anything today, but the kids give me a good excuse to leave all my crap in the fitting room, right? I’ll just kick this dirty diaper under the bench so nobody notices…
  3. That make me look more human.
  4. Only when necessary. This isn’t fashion show time. Lord knows I’m not a supermodel, but I accept my jean size. I’m not going to try on every size ten until I find one that miraculously fits. I’m going to re-fold these pants neatly and hand them to that nice girl who works here before I check out.
  5. Never. I don’t need new clothes. Will you tell my wife this shirt is just fine?

When I am done trying on clothes, I…

  1. Hang up a few items, backwards, inside out, or upside down, on all the wrong hangers. Give up on the rest. Leave them on the floor just like I do at home.
  2. Trample them, and toss a few up in the air to see if they’ll catch on the sprinklers or fluorescent lights overhead. I button up my coat to conceal the eight bras, eight pairs of panties, ten tank tops, five T-shirts, two sweaters, and two pairs of jeans I am wearing under my original clothes, plus the assorted jewelry and fine fragrances I have crammed into my inner coat pockets. I’ve already ripped off all the tags from all the clothes, and stuck them under the fitting room bench with a wad of chewing gum. I leave my old nasty bra and panties in the bottom of the shopping cart, covering them up with all the hangers, draping a new sweater over the top. I leave the cart in the fitting room, with the door closed, to trick other customers and store associates into thinking someone is still using the dressing room.
  3. Urinate on the clothes I didn’t like, and then kick them under the bench.  Or spill my coffee on the floor and refuse to buy all the white shirts on which I left colorful makeup stains.
  4. Hang up everything, neatly, on the correct hangers. I bring all of my items out of the fitting room, and hang unwanted items on the “fitting room merchandise” rack next to the entrance of the fitting room, just as the signs in the fitting room instructed me to. Or I decide to put away the items myself. It’s no big deal. That poor girl who works here has enough to deal with. I think someone just peed in the fitting room next to mine.
  5. I never tried on any clothes in the first place. I’m home now, watching the game, breaking in my new boxer shorts.

If I happen to encounter a sales associate next to or in the fitting room, I…

  1. Avoid eye contact. That girl is going to have to clean up my mess when I leave. Oh well. That’s what she gets paid for, right? My mom doesn’t care when I leave my dirty underwear in the bathroom at home.
  2. Ask if it’s okay to bring my shopping cart into the dressing room. The more jeans I bring in with me, the easier it is for me to switch out my old jeans with a new pair. I’ll even hang my old, ratty pair of jeans—with the tags from the new jeans stuffed into the pockets—on a hanger to fool the dumbasses working here.
  3. Ignore her smile and kind greeting, and scratch myself inappropriately. Where’s the toilet paper? Oh well. This T-shirt on the floor looks pretty absorbent.
  4. Say hi and smile, and thank her for clearing out all the hangers and inside-out jeans that the last customer thoughtlessly left in the room. I’ll be sure to bring all my clothes out of the dressing room when I’m done.
  5. Ask her where I can check out.

If I leave a mess in the fitting room, I justify my behavior by telling myself…

  1. I don’t get how these hangers work! I’m not a rocket scientist! At least I hung everything on the hook…except for a few sweaters, bras, boxes of shoes, and leggings (which I removed from the packaging to try on).
  2. The girls who work here were obviously serial killers in a recent past life. They have a LOT of bad karma. I’m helping them to atone for their past misdeeds by forcing them to clean up after me. They hang up clothes and fold stuff a lot better than I do, anyway. They must like doing this, or else they wouldn’t work here.
  3. I can’t read the “No Food or Drink” sign. I enjoy ripping through all the belt loops on these cheap cardigan sweaters and smearing chocolate all over the walls. My mate, Glenn, has always fantasized about fooling around in a public place. I think this stall will work just fine. I’ll chuck a turd at the girl who works here, and then howl until Glenn finds me.
  4. I would never leave a mess. Perish the thought! Those nice girls who work here need more customers like me. After all, there are two apes going at it in the back stall.
  5. I’ve already wasted ten minutes of my life in this department store. It’s all my wife’s fault. I told her I didn’t need a new dress shirt.

When my children are shopping with me, I…

  1. Behave no differently. I tediously pick through every clearance rack while the kids wail idiotic things like “I’m hungry!” and “I need to go potty!” and “I’m tired!” and “I wanna go home!” I drag them into the fitting room with me, screaming at them to shut up. “If you can be quiet while Mommy tries on these fifty outfits,” I tell them, “I’ll let you look at toys when I’m done. I might even drop you off in the toy department, unsupervised, while I go pick out a birthday card for Uncle Jim and a new Homer Simpson Christmas ornament for Daddy!”
  2. Find that it’s easier to steal stuff. My kids think it’s normal to leave the store wearing three new shirts and three new pairs of underwear beneath their old clothes.
  3. Have to bring along extra snacks. I don’t try on clothes when I have my kids with me. I may be an illiterate ape, but I’m not a fool.
  4. Head to the registers as soon as the kids start getting restless, and don’t keep them out past their bedtime.
  5. Hang out in the toy department with the kids while Mommy is trying on clothes. These new Avengers action figures are pretty cool.

  I think, overall, I’m…

  1. A nice person who doesn’t have time to hang up clothes after I’ve tried them on. I always tell the girl who works in the store “sorry!” on my way out of the messy fitting room.  
  2. A nice person who happens to shoplift or leave enormous messes in the fitting room on a regular basis. You think twenty-one pairs of jeans on the ground is bad? You should see my house! There are at least five dead cats buried under the debris in my bedroom.
  3. Better off living in the zoo, although I do enjoy trying on bikinis.
  4. Someone who treats others the way I’d like to be treated.
  5. Against fitting rooms in general.

Are you a good F.R.I.E.N.D.?

I have many, many, many years of experience working in a department store, cleaning out men’s, misses’, and juniors’ fitting rooms. I feel that I am more than qualified to assess you based on your honest answers to these questions. I’m not a psychologist. I’m not perfect. But I am probably right.

So how do you rate on the F.R.I.E.N.D. scale? Count up how many times you answered 1; then do the same for 2, and so on. Here are your results:

Mostly 1’s:  Spoiled Child

Mostly 2’s:  Common Slob/Common Criminal*

Mostly 3’s:  Ape

Mostly 4’s:  Rare and Beautiful, Courteous and Compassionate Human Being

Mostly 5’s:  Probably a Man, which is not to say that you’re not also a Rare and Beautiful, Courteous and Compassionate Human Being; you just don’t waste much time in fitting rooms, and who can blame you?**

*How can I lump Common Slobs and Common Criminals into the same category? Well, slobs and criminals are equally annoying from my perspective. I actually prefer neat shoplifters over slovenly honest shoppers.  

**You guys rarely unfold anything and try on next to nothing. You know what you’re looking for when you walk in the door, and if you don’t find it, you don’t continue shopping. You want out of that store even more than I do when I’m working there. Men have a reputation for being lazy or messy around the house, but, in my experience, men are generally neat and polite shoppers. Now, maybe you can talk your wives or girlfriends into doing their clothes shopping online and leaving the fitting rooms alone.

Note: I originally published this quiz in 2008, and I can tell you that there has been a notable decrease since then in the amount of clothing that people try on in my store. Will any brick-and-mortar department stores still exist ten years from now? We shall see. Let’s not discuss why I’m still working in the same retail store nine years later. It’s a sore subject.     

Good news for all of you Spoiled Children, Common Slobs/Criminals, and Apes out there! It’s easy to improve your score on the F.R.I.E.N.D. scale, assuming you want to become a Rare and Beautiful, Courteous and Compassionate Human Being—indeed, a true “friend” to the men and women who have to clean out department store fitting rooms. One easy fix is to take a seasonal job in a department store to experience these extreme displays of courtesy and gross indecency firsthand; it could change your life. With the extra cash you earn, plus your associate discount, you common criminals won’t have any excuse to shoplift all your underwear and baby clothes, right? I see people getting caught shoplifting all the time. QUIT STEALING, for crying out loud!  

Please remember this article the next time you step into a fitting room, in a hurry, with tons of clothes to try on. You’re not really a spoiled five-year-old, are you? Hey, gorillas, how do you keep escaping from the zoo, anyway? Just because I’m not standing there, handing you a number as you walk in to try on your clothes (because few department stores have actual fitting room attendants these days), it doesn’t mean I won’t be around to clean up your mess later on. And I will remember your face. Maybe I really was a serial killer in a past life (don’t test me).  

Sarcastic Venting (feel free to skip this): Do you expect me to go out of my way to help you after you’ve left a four-foot-high pile of clothes on the fitting room floor? Sure, I’ll give you back your twenty-dollar bill you left buried under thirty pounds of disheveled blue jeans, but, really, I thought you meant to leave that for me as a tip. Oh, all right, you can have your cellphone back. I had to extricate it from four layers of sweaty tank tops, but I’m happy to return your property to you. No, I don’t know how your phone got wedged in the mannequin’s butt like that.

Thank you to all of you Rare and Beautiful, Courteous and Compassionate Human Beings. THANK YOU!  

Fun Fitting Room Facts

Weirdest personal item I ever found in a fitting room: birth control pills

Grossest items I ever found in a fitting room: Used tampons. A skirt and shirt that a drunk customer had peed on and then kicked under the bench, so I had no way of knowing they were wet when I first touched them. A pair of jeans that someone had wiped poop on and, again, kicked under the bench. I don’t know if it was dog poop or human poop.  

It’s true: A toddler boy once peed directly onto the carpet in the fitting room while I was in there clearing out another stall. His mom was in the room with him. She said nothing to the kid and nothing to me when she left.  

The most pairs of pants I ever found in a single fitting room, tried on by a single customer: 48! She had to find the one size-six that actually fit her, in spite of the fact that she was a true size-twelve.

Lesson of the day: ALWAYS wash clothing you’ve just purchased before wearing it. Trust me. You do NOT know where those clothes have been. And always strive to be a Rare and Beautiful, Courteous and Compassionate Human Being, in fitting rooms and everywhere else!           


Photo by mxmstryo (Fitting Room) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

3 thoughts on “How Do You Rate on the F.R.I.E.N.D. Scale? Fitting Room Intelligence, Etiquette, and (In)Decency

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