Just Ask, Damn It

I was shopping with a friend not too long ago and something kept coming up that made me want to throw my hands in the air and exhale loudly.

I am a very impatient shopper. If the stuff isn’t doing anything for me, I leave within a couple minutes- usually less. My friend is a much more thorough shopper. She will look at everything in the store but she refuses to ask for assistance.

What, are you a man?

I know it is a stereotype but I think there is some credence to it.

It’s not that I love to ask for assistance. I never do unless I absolutely want something.

I have worked too many years in retail and customer service where you have to field an endless stream of stupid questions so I completely understand her reticence. I have been mortified by other shopping companions who ask an endless stream of questions- monopolizing the time of the salesperson who probably works on commission- only to thank them and walk out empty handed.

Granted, there are some places where that is very appropriate, like a specialty kitchen retailer where you need to ask for specs and it is unlikely you will walk out with a 90K kitchen after only one visit.

But my friend had very specific questions regarding items she couldn’t find. She may not want to purchase them right away but to even look at them to make a decision…. Nope, there was to be no asking. I even volunteered to ask for her on several occasions just to put an end to the aimless wandering but my offers were repeatedly refused.

Big sigh.

It got to the point where I would mock threaten her with, “Don’t make me ask for you.”

But then we saw the holy grail of Christmas trees.

Let’s backtrack for a sec. This woman LOVES Christmas and hasn’t had a Christmas tree in 10 years (long story). I have been on the hunt with her for a white Christmas tree but there was nothing. They all look cheap (though they are surprisingly expensive) and anything decently priced tends to be super ugly. I hate fake Christmas trees (scars from childhood) and white? I fight my gag reflex just thinking about it. We had some success with ornaments but there were no decent white Christmas trees to be found.

We walked into a chichi store in Yorkville with a reputation for snottiness. I usually avoid these stores like the plague or go in with the expressed purpose of making the salespeople crazy. I tend to dress down and this generally causes salespeople to follow me around the store to make sure I don’t try to slip anything into my pockets.

We saw the CREAM Christmas tree at the same time. She stopped breathing and I exclaimed that it was her tree.

And it was on sale!

Bonus fries.

Originally, it was $695 (!!!) but it was now going for a song- $195.

I was seriously excited for her because it was a beautiful tree (I would not have been so excited for her if it wasn’t gorgeous) and because it was affordable. I told her she had to buy it but she hemmed and hawed. I even offered to put it on my card and she could pay me back when she was able to. My thinking was that you at least ask if it was the last one and how big the box is in which it will live 10 months of the year. But no, there was to be no asking until we had walked through the entire store of overpriced stuff.

We were ready to go and she was still undecided so I forced her hand. I walked to the first salesperson I saw and asked her for info. She didn’t have any answers but took my friend’s information and promised to call.

When we walked out to get some lunch at Holt’s, I was giddy from the purchase of doorknobs at Anthropologie and she was buoyed by dreams of setting up her first Christmas tree in a decade.

Thankfully, they called her, we went to the store to pick it up (a story in itself), she promised to invite me to its unveiling this coming November 15th and she has made her first payment of 35¢.

This story has a happy ending but I wonder if she would have let her dream go because she hates to ask for help or delayed asking until all the trees were gone. It would have been the one that got away.

That query is moot but at least I will never have to go shopping for a white Christmas tree ever again.

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~ by angryegg on January 11, 2010.

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