Don’t you hate it when you’re in a store and there’s a child throwing a tantrum? And by “child” I don’t literally mean a kid — I mean a salesperson who is just so rude that you have to fight the urge to send them to their room to think about what they’ve done.
Case in point: my recent visit to my favorite beauty store (true, beauty products may be my weakness but being tantrum-resistant is my strength). I knew exactly the product I wanted but, unfortunately, the shelf was empty. Okay. No problem. I’ll just ask for help.
Little Ms. Beauty Princess (aka the nearest salesperson) was standing no more than three feet away from me, touching up her (way too) hot pink lip gloss, batting her ginormous lashes in the mirror, and chewing gum as if her life depended on it. I swear she could have been right out of central casting for the movie Working Girl — she was utterly B & T (bridge & tunnel) with the added benefit of that annoying Valley Girl cadence of speech.
When I asked for help I got a gum crack, an eye roll, and an enormous sigh before she came over (oh, I’m sorry, does the “Ask me for help!” button on your smock not mean what I think it does?). After hearing what it was I wanted, she looked at the same empty shelf that I had, tapping her sparkly nails against it as if to make the product magically appear. (I’ve written for the nail industry for years, and believe me, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that tapping your over-the-top glitterati nails in that annoyed, impatient way won’t do anything. Except a) chip your manicure and b) irritate the hell out of a waiting customer.)
“Not here,” she said (hence the empty shelf). “But this other (read ‘way more expensive’) brand has an even better product. Why don’t you try it?”
No, I told her. Thank you, but I was only interested in the product I had come in for.
“But this other brand is am-a-a-a-a-zing,” she cajoled. “Why don’t you just take a look –”
No, thank you, I repeated. But could she please check the inventory in the back of the store?
“No,” she said with more than just a little petulance in her tone, “I won’t. There’s never anything back there.” You mean other than those times salespeople have done just that and returned with the requested item? She actually stamped her scarily sparkly-toed foot. “I really do think you need to try this other brand –”
One more time — no.
“Really?” she said, those hot-pink-tinted lips now forming a not-so-pretty (but very glossy) snarl. “Because the product I’m recommending is anti-aging.” And then she walked away.
Good shot. Right for the jugular. But bad move.
Because just then the store manager came over and asked how I was doing. I told him what I was looking for and, before you could say “I hate hot pink lip gloss,” he headed off to the back of the store and returned a couple of minutes later, product in hand. I thanked him profusely and then couldn’t resist asking, “Do you think maybe I should look for an anti-aging version of this?”
“Not at all, miss,” he said, “I think this one will be perfect for you.” Good move on the opinion (extra points for the use of “miss” instead of “ma’am”).
As I turned to go to the register, I saw him approach Ms. Beauty Princess, who was standing in front of the mirror again, now admiring her hair extensions. Unaware of her previous interaction with me, he asked her to go to the back of the store and bring out enough of that very product to stock the shelf. Over his shoulder, she looked at me in false-lash horror, afraid I was going to get her into trouble.
But no, that’s not my style. I prefer to turn the other chic.
© 2014 Claudia Grossman