Walk into a clothing store. A clothing store in a mall, perhaps. Or outlet mall. Any clothing store where there's a greeter.
This is the person who literally controls my shopping comfortability in the palm of their hand. Because this is the person who will let me get away with a mumbled 'just looking' or not.
Let me explain: when I walk into the clothing store, I assess the situation. My eyes flick from women's section to men's. I spot the land mines. I plan my route.
I avoid conversation at all costs, unless it's absolutely pertinent to the success of the mission.
But sometimes I'm not good enough. I get lazy. I've got the pretzel in one hand, phone in the other. Texting. Pretzel cheese on the fingers. Lookin' like a true American. And I stroll into the store. Don't ever do that.
There's gotta be a gameplan.
Just happened to me yesterday. I walked into a Levi's outlet without a gameplan and am lucky to have walked out alive.
This is what transpired.
The greeter was stationed behind a stack of jeans on the eastern side of the compound. The stack was higher than normal, sure, but the greeter was also skinnier than normal. He was dressed in denim from head to toe. Yes, head. He had a denim cap on to match his denim shirt and denim jeans. And he was behind a stack of denim jeans. You try spotting that denim-chameleon. I knew I was dealing with a pro.
I saw him too late. As I strolled in, I heard rustling. He sprang from his hiding place and I nearly dropped my phone into the pretzel cheese (leave me alone)
I was helpless.
His first question was a perfect lead-in to his sell.
'What kinds of jeans do you like to wear?' he asked.
Put me on the spot. Smack dab on the effing spot. A direct question.
Usually they just ask 'How are you?' Or 'Can I help you with anything?'
And you can get away with a mumbled 'Just looking.'
But not this denim nightmare. Skinny Jeans wants an answer.
I looked at him and said 'Cool ones.'
It was at this point that he attacked. First he explained, that I was in luck, because their jeans are really cool. Especially the skinny ones like he wore, all the way back to the relaxed ones in the back. The washes all varied from style to style, so if I needed anything at all from him, to let him know because he was here to help, his name was Doug.
This guy was a total chatter-box.
His sell took over fifteen seconds. In the non-committal shopper's world that is a lifetime.
Now I couldn't just browse and leave. He INVESTED in me.
He spent time telling me about all their great deals and washes. When other potential sells walked right on in behind me, he stuck with me.
He took time on me and now I had to take time in the store.
Do you see? That's how it works.
You can't just LEAVE after someone takes time on you. That's rude. Get some manners.
I find that a leisurely stroll to the back where the sales are, a few flicks through a pile of shirts, and a feigned interest nod to another salesperson usually does the trick.
I can feign some mean ass interest, too.
Oh wow, is that long sleeve? Put down the pretzel. Pick up the shirt. Oops. It's got a big silver cross on the sleeve, no thanks. Not going to kill Dracula-Wolfman this week. Put it back. Keep biding time.
I did a few more feigned interest eyebrow wrinkles, making sure the proper sales people saw me. I don't do too big of an eyebrow wrinkle, though. Just enough to let them know you're interested, but don't need their help finding anything.
So I did my loop and went to the front. Doug saw me. Just then a group of folks walked in and Doug knew what he had to do. I called his bluff. He had to go with the potentials, not the guy leaving.
He let me leave without another word. No 'Have a nice day.' No 'See ya next time.'
Nothing. And that felt good.
As soon as I was clear of the battlefield I realized I left my pretzel.
Let 'em have it. I ain't goin back in.
Prisoner of War.