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It's a noble tradition: journalists going undercover and obscuring their real identity, in order to serve the public by bringing them the unvarnished truth about the real issues of the day. And no issue is currently more pressing than the one Eric Wilson takes on in today's Times: Given the grave economic situation, are the sales clerks at Madison Avenue boutiques still complete bitches?

Bravely donning a poor person's outfit of jeans, sweatshirt, and "dog-walking shoes" (let's not linger on precisely what that might mean), Wilson discovers that yes, the legendarily haughty staff at the likes of Chanel, Prada, and Ralph Lauren have been forced to drop the 'tude, even when they think they're dealing with a pleb. All except for Gucci, where our intrepid sweatshirted reporter was, disappointingly, treated most shabbily. So if you're looking for a job at a designer flagship, give Gucci at 840 Madison a call—at least two people are getting fired today!

Economy Adjusts Store Relations on Madison Avenue [NYT]