Essay / Gillianne Ross / November 2018

The “Scentsation” of Patricia

Written by Gillianne Ross

I started working at Yankee Candle in the summer of 2016. Not long after I started, I was introduced to a regular customer—who for a good ten months, was nameless. In the spirit of the sense of humor we all had at Yankee Candle, we came up with the endearing nickname: Crazy Candle Lady. At first she only came when I was ending my shifts; so my exposure was limited until early January of 2017.

Allow me to paint the scene. It is winter. It is inventory time. It is five o’clock. I arrive at work to be greeted by six large baskets of products behind the counter. Not all of them contained full-sized candles, some held teenie tiny products: scent plug refills, scent spheres, tarts, votives, etc. Like a logical human, I assumed that this was part of the inventory. But upon consulting my coworker, I was told: “No, this is all Patricia.”

We had found out Crazy Candle Lady’s name during the Christmas season. (What a terrifying and scarring time in the candle world.) My coworker simply asked her what her name was. Obvious conversational rules seemed to elude the rest of us in the presence of Crazy Candle Lady.

Fun fact about Patricia: she drives a car which shares a striking similarity to a hearse. Plus it’s weighed down by the sheer amount of merchandise filling any and all space in the car. We found out that Patricia is in fact a hoarder. On this cold and crisp January night, I brought two cart-loads of Yankee Candle products to the wonder which is her car. In summary, her receipt that night was… roughly… six feet long.

As a sales associate (bottom of the barrel) I had to help her out to her car. On one occasion, the only free space was the driver’s seat and the gearshift. This car was definitely illegal to drive; there was no way she could see out of any windows with the exception of the windshield due to all the bags. Considering how much she boosted our store sales and quarterly budget, the Yankee Candle team developed a unique form of affection toward Patricia. In turn, she provided us with facts about her life.

In her prime (the 1970s, quite a time) Patricia was a renowned dancer who performed in New York City. This was discovered via short conversations at the register while I wrapped her candles and packed them into bags and boxes. She’s also an avid singer and sang along to the oldies when they sprang up on our store radio. Although Patricia detests the store radio station, because it is, in the collective store view, literally swill—except for the occasional oldie.

After dancing her way to NYC and an interim decade (which we never found out about) Patricia ended up DJing at a small club. She very proudly boasted that she played Moby’s music before he was “really big.” We speculated about what might have happened to her to cause her to slip into the state of mind that breeds hoarding. We never found a definitive answer. It was the general store consensus that she must have hurt herself dancing or some other fantastic injury because she had needed surgery on her leg during my employment. An injury paired with some other mysterious event must have caused the behavior.

For a while, we did not see Patricia. Two months went by, versus the usual tri-weekly visit, and there was no sign of her. One day she just strolled in and informed us that she had bought a house and needed to save money. We were her weakness. However she now has an entire room devoted to her candles—the ultimate Yankee customer achievement of all time. With all the scent-tastic products she possesses, Patricia is always throwing parties and gifting away her supply. It will  inevitably be refilled in the next few weeks. She even gave me and my coworker free lotion from Bath & Body Works, for helping her check out and load her car.

There are many things which make Yankee Candle a real gem in my collection of memories, but Patricia contributed to this heavily. How many other people can truthfully say that they’ve known a candle-obsessed hoarder that was once a star dancer and DJ? Not that many. Long live Patricia and the six foot long receipt.

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