Like government, finance and many sectors of business, fashion is not above altering its use of language to soften perceptions. My brother’s first job was assistant fragrance buyer at a department store; if he had known that he was actually developing a career in “beauty,” he might not have quickly given it all up for a life in the financial markets.
When I first began working in a department store, the in-house cop was called the “detective.” Although there were days when it seemed that our shoplifters outnumbered our paying customers, our man never caught as much as a head cold. Needless to say, he was replaced by four rougher sorts who called themselves “security.” Not long after my mother retired from the department store where she worked (You see a pattern here, right?), security became “loss prevention.” More recently, we’ve seen “asset protection.” Along the way, practitioners’ tools have become more sophisticated, and they have gotten better at what they do—which is the important job of stopping theft (now called “shrinkage”); but the perception of dangerous charm of a “detective” in the Raymond Chandler/Dashiell Hammett mode does not come to mind when considering the tech-savvy guy who controls a bank of video monitors. Would Humphrey Bogart have played an asset protection associate? We will have to think about that.
Credit: Alan Behr