I do believe that there are a lot of people out there who truly enjoy the holiday season. But not one of them is a sales person.
I find that every year as the cool breezes of early fall turn into the cold temps of late fall, instead of the crisp smell of autumn leaves in the air, there’s the stench of panic and frenzy in every store. And while businesses must love the moneymaking hoopla, the people who have to work there probably want to hang themselves.
The other night my husband and I went to an open house at our local supermarket. They sell prepared Thanksgiving meals so they invite everyone to come and let you try the turkey and all of the fixin’s. The employees ask you what you want on your plate, toss it on there and hand it over. They’re polite enough but somewhere behind their smiles I feel, lies an employee who reeeeally doesn’t want to be serving me. They all had this air like they were performing court-ordered community service. I know the idea is just to taste, not have dinner there, but the amount some of them were giving looked like what’s left on your plate as you’re lowering it into the dishwasher.
I felt like Oliver standing there with my pathetic look and little Styrofoam plate: “More please”. Just like him, I was hoping I’d get more food and nobody would strike me for having the chudspa to make my daring request.
Then my husband proceeded over to a table where a woman had been handing out meatballs to highlight a sauce she was peddling. She explained to him that she’d run out of the meatballs, so she had nothing for him to taste, but here was a coupon for the sauce, as she turned to a taller employee: “Tom, get him down a bottle, would ya?” My husband had no basket or cart, was already at his juggling capacity, had no interest in schlepping this bottle under his arm while he finished shopping and told her so. To which she replied: “Well, you have to take it now. I’m closing up and I get commission.” To which he replied: “That’s your problem.”
I’ve always been against jobs that pay only commission or the vast majority of your income is made by commission. I don’t know. There’s something about it that turns decent hard working sales people into… what’s a good word for it? Scumbags. Meatball lady probably didn’t work for the store. It’s usually easy to tell which stores’ employees live and die by commission: They’re the stores that the second you enter, the entire sales team flocks to you like they’re buzzards and you’re fresh road kill. There are those stores in the mall where your feet are technically still in the mall part, but if they look like they’re even possibly approaching the store, you can see the brigade of sales associates moving towards you. I always want to say: “No no. You can’t offer to help me yet. See? My feet are still on mall property. One step closer and I’ll call mall security.”
When I was searching for my bridal undergarments, I went into a famous lingerie joint in the mall. The sales girl accosted me immediately and then kept forcing bras on me. I can’t wear anything that’s strapless or that closes in the front. So of course that’s all she tossed at me even though I was 39 years old, had been wearing bras for a good 27 years and was pretty sure of what I couldn’t wear. What started as a friendly friendship with this woman, my new BFF, turned into a very unhealthy relationship. She was very controlling. I felt trapped in my 2 x 2 dressing room. She was suffocating me. She wouldn’t let me voice my opinion. She wanted everything to be her way. I had lost my individuality and my self-esteem. After ten minutes of this, I couldn’t take anymore. When she looked away for a moment to put the rejected bras back on the hangers, I turned around to face the mirror and frantically mouthed the words “Help me!” to the lady on the other side. When no help came, I planned my escape. I told the sales associate to continue her search for my perfect bra on the sales floor, way… over there… and I would continue to try on the amazing bras she’d brought me. As soon as she turned her back, I hastily threw on my shirt, waved to the lady on the other side of the two-way mirror and, with my own ratty bra in hand, made my escape. I didn’t stop running until I was hidden in the safety of the swarm of thousands at the food court.
All things considered, I think I liked it better when I was a teenager and sales people used to follow me around because they assumed I was stealing.