Chalk Talk

Why I Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Shop By Myself

So, I rarely go to the mall — it’s never been a place that brings me joy. More often than not, I’m overwhelmed, over-stimulated, and just over, over, over it. But I broke protocol because our local mall now has a Mac store and, well, there’s that new iPhone I needed to check out.

With my adult son in tow (because, let’s face it, it’s much easier for the kid to figure out the technical stuff (and remember it) than it is for me), we get there soon after the mall opens, the perfect time to get in and grab a salesperson. But, turns out the visit to the Mac store was a bust — they didn’t have the model I wanted. So we leave, heading out the way we came in, thinking of the next stop to make.

Then the gates of hell opened and a curly-headed blonde demon emerged, accosting me with a free sample of something.

OK, so “accost” might be a little strong. But, as I recollect, she magically appeared from behind her kiosk of doom, arm extended to wave the shiny lure in front of my face. I accepted the lure, with thanks (because I was raised to be polite), and continued walking. Then the demon called out and, like all the dumb kids who, in the scary movies, go into the decrepit cabin when we ALL know that’s where the BAD THING will happen and how can they make such a rookie mistake… I turn around. Sam keeps on walking, leaving me to my own devices.

Hook set.

She starts talking. She dumps some Dead Sea salt in my hand, tells me to start scrubbing. Oh yes, that feels nice. Then we rinse off in the alabaster bowl, and a dab of moisturizer is placed in my palm and I’m instructed to gently rub it in. Doesn’t that feel divine? Oh, yes… I am loving how this feels. But you know, I’m not really looking to spend any money on this stuff, so thank you very much, I have to be moving along.

Wait, Kim (because by now she knows my name, what I do for a living and that was my son walking off in the distance, ignoring my laser bean glances trying to real him back to me)… before you go, let me just tell you more about these products, where they come from and what wonderful, magical things they can do to you. Demonstration. Oooh, that’s nice. And more demonstration.

If I listen closely, I can hear the reel starting to spin, as she’s letting the line out, letting me get comfortable and relaxed. No pressure.

But I’m not oblivious to how this is part of the pitch.  And half the reason I’m staying, letting her woo me, exfoliate and rejuvenate me, is to observe her technique. And in turn, observe how I’m reacting to it. It’s quite fascinating. And she’s got the spin down. Almost too good. But keep going, she does. And keep listening, I do.

I’m pretty sure at this point, however, I’m going to have to buy something to get away from her. Yep, that’s me — the person that will buy your product to get you out of my house, off my doorstep, out of may face… because, I don’t like confrontations and it’s the polite thing to do, right?! They have to earn a living, or get points, or support their organization, or save a child from starvation. Whatever. I feel for you.

That lure is well set, the line has gone taunt, and I’m being reeled in fast and furious.

So, Keem (that’s how she pronounces my name), what would you like to take with you? I ask how much everything costs and while expensive, by all accounts, I’m rationalizing that I’m worth AT LEAST that much. So I’ll take those two — no, those four things. Good. Done. Here’s my card. Ring me up.

Halfway through ringing me up, she stops and says she want to show me a couple more things, so I have something to think about for my next visit. Because, Keem, you’re going to LOVE these products soooo much, you are most definitely going to be back. I exclaim that I am not going to buy anything else. It’s OK. It’s OK. Not buying today. For future.

Then I get shown three more products, dabs of stuff are patted under my eye, there’s a big reveal in the mirror (did I REALLY see a change between the untreated eye and the one now tingling with youth and vibrancy? Or did I just see a desperate woman looking for salvation from the sales pitch that will never end?). Which of these three products do you love the most, Keem? It really doesn’t matter, Beelzebub, because I’m not going to buy any of them. No, no… for when you come back. Which would you be the most interested in? Here’s how much each cost. So I point to the one that costs the lowest.

Now she leans in close, with a no bullshit look on her face. Her voice lowers, the cadence drops and she’s no longer in “high sales” mode. Now she’s my friend. Now she really wants to do me a solid. Because I am going to buy that product anyway… in the future… how about I buy it now and she’ll throw the other two products in for free.

At this point, I really should have seen her for the devil’s spawn she was, grabbed my card and sprinted for the exit. At the very least, I should have been doing the math in my head. (When did I lose that skill?!)

With a sigh, and with what I’m convinced was a look of desperation, I succumb and say sure, that’s a great deal, so let’s do it. Now ring me up because I have to get out of here. She swings her dragon-like torso around me and is positioned behind the register for, oh, 10 seconds before looking up, handing me post-it pad and a pen and asking me if I was going to be doing any Christmas shopping. Well, yes, of course, but NOT TODAY. I am NOT going to buy anything else today! No, no… but write down the names of three people that would enjoy, say… and she swings away from the register to start assembling three stacks of products. Wouldn’t those ladies love these products? Oh, sure. But NOT today.

But now we’re friends. And now she knows that I am a big, fat marshmallow.

You can probably guess what happens next. She leans in again. She whispers what a great person I’ll be, giving these fabulous products to women who so deserve them. Or I can keep them all for myself… she’ll never tell. But if I buy this one product set, I can get the other two free. Gratis. How could I possible refuse a deal like that?!


When all was totaled up, and after my eyes bugged out of my head, I just swallowed my tongue. But damn it, I did like how they made my skin feel and I AM worth it. I got a hug. I finally got my card back. And I was walking away with two bags filled with gold bouillon in a jar, I was rationalizing how, if all of this was a year’s supply, how much that came to a month and it really wasn’t that bad when you looked at it that way.

It took about 10 minutes before I started feeling really ashamed of myself. Then I wondered how long it would take for this to cease being painful reminder of my poor mall-visitation skills and become just another funny lessons-learned story. Like the time I bought a barber chair at an auction.

The thing is, half of the experience was just enjoying watching her go through her entire process and how good she was at it. Some things came off a little too forced, a little too inauthentic. But for the most part, she believed in her product, she believed I was worth it, and she believed I was the sucker that I am.

I know I have to toughen up. I have to avoid eye contact. I have to NOT take any shiny lures. I have to not worry about hurting their feelings. But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy a couple of the products I bought… and my son is going to take the rest back and get me a refund. You’ll find me hiding behind the the sunglasses kiosk, cheering him on to victory.


Apparently, they don’t do refunds. I need an aspirin.


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