Tuesday, September 7, 2010
There's a Special Place in Heaven, If Not My Heart, for the Local Department Store Sales Associate: Or, Some of the Wacky Things SA's Say
1. "It's the same perfume. They just changed the packaging."
You will hear this, most recently, in reference to Opium, and Shalimar. Both have changed: the latter more respectfully updated, the former pillaged and plundered. Which formula ends up appearing in the box you buy is anybody's guess. How much it smells like the tester bottle is too.
2. "You're in the women's section. The men's fragrances are over there."
It's a wonder I'm able to locate the store in the first place. I'm so bad at finding my way around. I get lost sitting still. Yesterday, I watched an entire episode of Golden Girls before I realized it wasn't Hogan's Heroes. Estelle Getty sounded so...German to me. I was halfway into The Departed before I realized Matt Damon and Leonardo Dicaprio weren't the same character. I point the remote at the refrigerator. I pet the couch instead of the dog. I always took toilet water literally, and could never figure out why my homemade refilling system never smelled as good. The Women's section? Really? I came here to repair the tire on my flat iron.
3. "That perfume has been discontinued. You can't find it anywhere."
Invariably, you hear this from one vendor who is located no more than four yards away from another vendor who stocks the item regularly from a discount source in some garage outfit in Peoria. The other vendor sells it at half the price. Many of these things appear on the shelves at TJ Max with a mind numbing regularity. The packaging shows a list of ingredients which makes it clear the product is not only still in production but using the cheapest materials the manufacturers can get their hands on.
4. "Women love this."
That's great, if the love of women is the kind you're looking for.
5. "The EDT and EDP are exactly the same."
I want to strip naked and dance all over the store when I hear this, tipping over displays. I know this sounds dramatic. And God knows there are more important things than perfume going on in the world. But here's the thing. I'm a stressed person. I might drink copiously if it weren't for perfume. I would develop another kind of addiction. I'm not saying crack. I'm not saying heroin. I'm just saying it would be something serious, and I can't tell you where I'd wake up in the morning, or what morning it might be. All I ask is that when I walk into some stupid store, which only stocks about four things I'm remotely interested in to begin with, and I ask whether they also carry the EDP, someone says, why yes, we do have the EDP, but you know, I think I prefer the presence of more vanilla in the EDT. If I can't have that then at least give me some good samples. If I can't have that either, move out of my way. I'll find you when I want to shell out some money.
6. "You seem to return a lot. Why don't you give me your girlfriend's name and number so I can call her and ask her what she really wants. That way you don't have to ask for so many refunds."
Let me explain how this works. Stop making sucky perfumes and I'll stop returning them. I'll retire my super glue. I'll stop oh so carefully opening new purchases from the bottom, spraying them once, repackaging them, and trotting on back to your little ninth circle of hell. At the very least, start learning more about the perfumes you're peddling. Become conversant in them. Admit they're not probably the stuff you just sprayed on a card. I don't expect you to tell me how wretched they really are. I just need a little more to go on. "Ooooh, I LOVE it" is pretty vague. What exactly do you love? If this were a restaurant and you described the food you wished to serve me with the same poverty of detail...oh, nevermind.
7. "How many perfumes do you have now?"
Pointing out a customer's sickness with a twinkle in your eye and a barely suppressed snicker isn't probably the yellow brick road to a commission.
8. "Here's a card with some of that sprayed on it."
In some parallel dimension, SA's are led to believe they can spritz something lightly on a piece of paper at 10 a.m. and a customer at, say, 3 or 4 p.m., smelling that piece of paper, will get the full panoply of aromas that scent has to offer. Here's a similar universe. I baked you a quiche, with fresh eggs, flour, cream, and cheese. It's cool because I left it out on the counter overnight. It's got paw prints on the surface because my cat has free roam of the house. Enjoy! Here's a universe right next to that one. I'm a model and I get laid all the time. Keep your eyes closed, please. My skin is highly sensitive to scrutiny and I rely on it for a living and free trinkets from admirers.
Sometimes, when you tell the above SA that the card is not sufficient, she or he will say:
9. "Let me spray some into the cap for you."
Where do I start? I love you. I feel for you. It's right out in public, what you do. That's got to be a pain at times. I would never go out in public if I could help it. All those demanding people. Everybody and their lousy needs. I feel for you, I do. But if you think perfume is something I want to smell from a stinking plastic cap held by a stingy hand we really have a problem here. That problem is, you bug me.
10. "I'm including a few samples of our latest fragrances in the bag."
It's a great comfort to me that when I'm done smelling something faint from a cap I can look forward to wiping something else on my arm from what amounts to a moist towelette. It's reassuring to know that I won't have to figure out where to put a little glass vial because this little treasure comes wrapped in peel away foil. It is a joy, a real thrill, to know that you've given me not a variety of things from which to choose--saving me much needed decision making time--but have limited my choice to Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, and some variation of Givenchy Irresistible. It was smart of you not to give much thought to what samples I might be interested in based on my purchase of an older Guerlain perfume. I am blessed to have such efficient thoughtlessness at my disposal. I would like to give a gift to you, too. Here is a piece of paper I once put my gum in. I've been sitting on it for weeks. Inside, somewhere between the gum and paper, I wrote down the combination to a locker in Grand Central where I have hidden ten thousand dollars and a week's supply of gummy bears.