What is it with sales assistants nowadays? They used to come up to you and politely enquire "Can I help you?". And you always answered, "I'm just looking, thank you." Me, I always varied it a little to be different ... "I'm just looking FOR THE MOMENT, thank you." I adored look of incomprehension that flitted across the sales assistant's face as he or she had to translate in their mind for a minute what I'd said because my answer was different from the norm.
Then a few years' ago everything changed. Now we get asked, "How has your day been?" or "What have you been doing today?" or "Have you had a good day?"
I couldn't stand it any longer, this forced niceness. I was in New Plymouth last year, fingering a red blouse on a rack, and the sales assistant said, "Have you had a nice day?"
"No," I answered. "I've just hiked 21 kilometres and I'm tired and grumpy."
"We have that red blouse in other colours, " she said.
Goodness, she hadn't heard a word I'd said, so programmed was she.
I went into another shop. "How has your day been?" asked the shop assistant.
"Well," I said. "I woke up about 6 a.m., then couldn't decide between Kornies or Frosties. Then, goodness, what outfit should I wear? I debated for, oh, half an hour between a blue floral dress, and my denim jeans. But the denim jeans had a tear in the hem, and ....." I stopped and giggled. The look of sheer horror on the assistant's face had been worth everything. In the end we both laughed over it, but, heavens, I truly am tired of this "sales assistant niceness".
And while I'm at it, I hate the way sales assistants pick up on something you're wearing and go into raptures over it.
"Oh, I love your trousers ..... blouse ... shoes, bangle ...." And this, perhaps, when nothing I'm wearing matches, I could have just painted my room and be paint-splattered and definitely in my worst clothes. In desperation, the sales assistant, when he/she can't find anything to clingo, they'll say something like , "Oh, your watch is so nice," when I'm wearing my swimming watch - plain, old, ,masculine, and black. Don't the powers-that-be in the retailing sector realise the public are onto all this flannel?
When I was in Las Vegas last year, it all came to a head. I was walking on one of the cross-over bridges. There was a woman begger sitting there. She shouted out to me as I passed, "What a lovely blouse!".
Oh dear, apparently even the beggers now have retail sales motivation courses!