Everyone I know has a story or two and I've heard some amusing theories about special training in customer-terrorizing. Considering my experience lately, I'm starting to think it might be true.
I know a thing or two about perfume. If I'm telling you that I have no interest in big white florals, please (please!) don't try to grab my wrist and spray it with Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. And don't argue with me about the effect of gardenia, ok? I can smell it from the bottle just fine and there's no way in hell that stuff is getting on my skin. Ever.
Strike number 1 for Saks 5th Avenue (my local one, not the flag store in NYC).
Another Saks moment, from today: I was trying on handbags, in a futile attempt to find the perfect black purse. Despite my request to browse by myself, the bag lady insisted on striking up a conversation. I can deal with that, as long as I'm not being crowded (and I was). Also: Do not contradict a customer. If I feel that a purse is too wide for me, then it is. If I tell you it's too small for my needs, then I'm right. Seriously: If I'm going to have to choose between carrying my wallet and my cell phone, then it is too small. Why argue?
But the one that takes the cake is what happened to me a couple of weeks ago at the fashion floor of Barneys in Manhattan. Picture this: Here I am, wearing a little black dress and high heels, carrying an unmistakable red Valentino purse and a small Barneys shopping bag from the beauty department (I indulged in some Lutens). As I was stepping away from the escalator, two sales assistants were eyeing me. Apparently, not with approval, because as I was approaching the racks, one of them stopped me and said: "It took you way too long to get here!". I was about to say "excuse me?" when she and her friend started snickering :"Oh, I thought you were our seamstress".
Granted, I don't look very Upper East Side, and my very long hair has something slightly bohemian about it, but I'd think that my appearance still said "potential customer". And the thing is, the smirking made it obvious that it was meant as an insult. I started half-heartedly browsing the Lanvin display, kicking myself for not responding with a snappy comeback. I found a sweater I liked, but decided I'm not giving them my business. Why should I?