Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Context For Your Consideration

Picture: You're a customer who has just entered my furniture and bedding store for a leisurely look around. You enter the towels area of the bed linens section, pick up a nice colored washcloth and examine it with curiosity. A strong, maniacal voice booms out behind you "Do you need help with something, [ma'am/sir]?". You turn around to me, who, with my hands locked behind my back, wide-eyed, seems quite intent on being part of your shopping experience. You say "No, it's OK, I'm just looking." and move on. "Alright, my name is Jason if you need anything." I call out behind you.

You move on and start to look at the comforters.....and feel....yourself.....being watched. You turn and I'm a couple of feet off in the distance.....watching. I turn as soon as you noticed me and act like you were just a random direction my head wavered in as I wonder around.

You walk on, a bit annoyed and spooked, and you see a nice terracotta floral-pattered pair of Europeans shams. Upon picking them up, you are immediately assaulted with "Those are made out of 100% Egyptian Cotton and imported from Italy. Pretty good, 330 thread count." This keeps up until I see that you're on verge of knocking my nose to the back of my skull, or you leave the store entirely.

Yes, it's annoying and a bit creepy. I don't want to do it, but it's not without reason. A context for your consideration:

A tall, meaty woman named Cynthia [Laura], who came from the textile industry, entered our linens department for salesperson work. She said she left the textiles business because it was too competitive and cutthroat. Often, designs that she's worked on has been stolen by others or her boss and put in their name. Plenty of times in the one conversation, she's pointed to a duvet cover or flat sheet nearby and said "this design doesn't just come from nowhere, people make this and sell it." Ah, I see. At any rate, she might've left the textile business behind, but she's carried the competitive attitude right over.

She always puts her money first. Yes, in a capitalist system, this is endorsed, and there's nothing wrong with it. But you must care for your environment if you expect it to care for you. If there is packages and boxes of new merchandise that needs to be marked down to the proper price and put on the selling floor, she is nowhere to be found. However, she makes sure she's on top of each and every customer that comes in.

As salespeople, we get commission [money] everytime we get customers to buy stuff from our store, but at the same time, we're also paid to take care of and maintain the floor we work on. Occasionally, she'll come over while me and the only other person in our department, a 20-year-old college student, are laboring arduously over dusty boxes of mispriced and sometimes damaged merchandise to be put out. She'll pick up something and say "Oh, they sent us these? They're beautiful." then walk away. This conflict of interest has stirred arguments with me, the other employee, as well as plenty of employees who don't even work with us. In effect, she has drawn quite a bit of distance from the people she works with, and is mainly kept company by her own loneliness [irony: check].

There's also a hypothesis being shared and built among me and my co-workers that a mental defect may be present. It's evident in her display of communication skills with others:

Talk with a customer
Customer: I like the music you guys got here. *points up to a speaker blaring Frank Sinatra* Very classy.
[Laura]: *glassy-eyed with a face of confusion*

Argument with me
Me: Just leave, man. You're terribly lazy!
[Laura]: Oh, I'm terrible and lazy? Please.

This defect is also suspected to be the basis of a damaged memory.

[Laura]: So Jason, is there ever a time when there's a lot of customers?
Me: Yes, usually on the weekends. No one ever comes in here on weekdays.

Monday evening
[Laura]: So Jason, is there ever a time when there's a lot of customers?
Me: I was saying before, the weekends, they'll come.

[Laura]: So Jason, is there ever a time when there's a lot of customers?
Me: The weekends.

A week later
[Laura]: So Jason, is there ever a time when there's a lot of customers?
Me: *sigh*

The thing about this is, I don't know if her repeating things 8 million times is evidence of anterograde amnesia, or her trying to break through the loneliness she's built for herself.

Either way, as I've mentioned earlier, one thing that's she brought from her previous work experience is her competitiveness. It being the only thing she really knows, she makes sure she's on every customer that walks through our small linens section. Even when they say they don't need her help, she'll walk around and keep a sharp eye on them, running up and commenting on every thing she sees they have the slightest interest in.

Here's the thing: when I ask a customer if they need help and they say they're just looking around, I leave them to their own matters, letting them come to me when they need something. But as soon as [Laura] sees that a customer isn't physically near me, she assumes their hers for the taking. She's toned this terrible habit down after once seeing in my eyes the forthcoming of a terrible violence upon her face, but still does it every once in a while.

So, when you see me stalk you as I've described in the first paragraph, it isn't an expression of my own neuroticism, it's economic defense to steer her neuroticism away. Just a context for your consideration.


  1. context is always good. i'll remember that next time i'm in a store!

  2. "She's toned this terrible habit down after once seeing in my eyes the forthcoming of a terrible violence upon her face,"

    friggin hilarious. I couldnt stop laughing at work. Everyone looked at me with wide eyes.

  3. I am now officially afraid of furniture and bedding stores.


  4. Don't Feed The PixiesApril 21, 2008 at 5:33 AM

    There's a game you can play in furniture stores and computer stores - it varies depending on which one you're in:

    Furniture/DIY stores - go into the shop and look at EVERY display without being approached and asked if you want help - if you make it out you've won

    Computer stores - go into a computer store, wave your hands in the air with lots of money in them, examine an expensive computer and mutter things about Hi-definition and see if you get anyone to help you before the turn of the century. If they actually know about computers you get a bonus point.

    Sounds like the woman in question is lonely and trying desperately to be friendly, but doesn't know how

  5. The Clandestine SamuraiApril 21, 2008 at 10:58 AM

    That's the thing: she doesn't listen to anyone but herself, so she's made her own loneliness.

  6. Hello Clandestine Samuri. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I know I've seen your name commenting on various blogs. Maybe Kant and the bible can extend over two years! YOu have an ambitious reading program, sounds like. I think i've already read 50 bks this year but some of them are junk. Be well, Suki


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