A Conversation -2

Have you seen those ladies, young and bright, all decked up, standing alongside minimalistic shops with big boards, trying to sell you their sea-salt scrub, diamond facial etc. ? I had never seen them much back home in India, but somehow Singapore seems to be full of them. Any mall I go to, I find them here and there, everywhere!

I have nothing against the product. I have never tried it myself – so no comments.

This may not be much of a conversation but more of beration. But it did touch me in ways more than one. I have been contemplating this for a while now. This is what happened.

A couple of weeks back, 2 of my colleagues and I  had some extra time for lunch. Since we had not brought our boxes (it was all planned), we thought of visiting a mall nearby and check out their food court. We had a good one hour and a half and were waiting to indulge in food and desserts.

As we started walking towards the food court, the very obvious that has been happening to me at a frequency of more than twice a week happened. But well, this time I was not alone. A lady all decked up stopped us to tell us of her sea-salt products. I am so fed up of hearing sea-salt that I will just run away if anyone says that compound word anymore. She started telling us of her products. We were in a generally chirpy mood and so humoured her.

I respect them. I really do. I respect their ability to stand there all day, not knowing what percentage of their advertisement will actually convert to sales – I know it must be an arduous task wearing all of that make-up with compulsory stilettos, made-up nails and a smile always on their face. It is a very tough job, honestly.

After politely declining and thanking her, we walked ahead. This time, we were again greeted by another lady from another sea-salt shop. Instead of selling the product to us, she started with “You have a lot of marks. See, this pimple here. It is soooo big. You have too many blackheads. And you have patches of tanned spots. You have black circles” and so on and so forth.

I just lost it. She did not address one person. She was generally pointing to us, our “features” and going on and on.We tried to resist initially but just couldn’t.

Before I knew what was happening I heard myself saying (quite loudly), “We are very happy with how we are. We know that this is your duty. But if making people walking by feel that it was the biggest mistake they did and making them feel bad and sorry for themselves is your way of advertising and selling the product, then I’d have to talk to someone” and blah blah. I couldn’t believe that I had done it because I just choose to ignore and pass on. Well, I am not sorry that I did.

Trust me, I know that what they say may be facts. But they make it sound like the most horrendous things to ever surface on Earth (err. the face). They make it sound so important. After all, a boil on the face or blackheads on the nose is not something vicious. Or carnivorous. If it bothers me, I will go to my grandmother and follow her besan flour or lemon or hibiscus or tulsi recipe and concoctions.

By God’s Grace, I am a whole being. I see people with the most severe forms of disability. I see people with jaw surgeries who have practically half their face missing. Or people who have quadruplegia. Trust me, there is not a single moment when I don’t feel thankful. Yes, I too have passed through and continue to pass through bad hair days or sometimes feel thankful for a clear face only to wake up to a boil right on my chin. And I do wish that it would go away. But that does not make me less thankful. It is probably a very human thing. Or may be a girl thing. I don’t fret about it all day in and day out.

I feel terrible when the salespersons call us aside or tell us right in between a moving crowd about visible blackheads and dull skin and marks and acne and all that ! If they wish to sell their sea-salt or pearl or shell cream, I would prefer that they word it nicely even though they think the customer to be a droopy eyed, saggy skinned, black head ridden, acne covered person.

No, this is not a rant. I don’t think I am over reacting either. I am not going to read this after 10 years and feel like I over reacted or laugh at myself.

I do like to keep myself groomed. But I do wish for sensitivity and sensibility on part of people who wish to sell their products. Maybe they could just talk of what it can do, or say more politely or maybe just let the interested customer ask them for a particular  feature.

If not anything, all of my belligerent attitude that day made me feel happy. It made me feel like I really did not care about any of what she said. But I chose to tell her that. Ofcourse, I could have chosen to ignore the salesperson and act like I was above all this and not tell her any of it. But the fact is that I am not. I don’t choose to be that way either.


  1. Destination Infinity · July 8, 2012

    These sales people just don’t understand how many people they are turning off, with their aggressive attitude. Outbound sales techniques have never worked on the long run, it’s inbound ones that work. Big companies realize this and spend money on advertising, creating attractive banners, etc. in order to tempt the customer. They don’t compel anyone, as they risk losing their brand image.

    As for the sales people, if there is not much demand (or if there is too much competition) for their products, its better to move on to some other business. That’s what they are going to do anyway. How long can they afford to canvass each and every customer like this and waste their time? It’s a highly inefficient way of marketing.

    Destination Infinity

    • kismitoffeebar · July 9, 2012

      “These sales people just don’t understand how many people they are turning off, with their aggressive attitude. Outbound sales techniques have never worked on the long run, it’s inbound ones that work.” – I agree !
      Ya, well, I always wonder about their sales as well. there are too many such shops. And frankly, I hardly see people buying !

  2. Atrocious Scribblings · July 8, 2012

    Au Contraire – Its not surprising at all since most most skin care and beauty product firms bank on potential customers’ insecurities to sell them their products.

    How else can we account for increasing sales of fairness creams in the motherland? It is simply because the media, cinema and society has put it into our heads that having fair and blemish free skin is nothing short of a god sent blessing and one must do all one can to achieve this state of appearance.

    Well written this one.

    Cheers 🙂

    • kismitoffeebar · July 9, 2012

      Hi AS !

      Ya, I agree. But, somehow even though the ads talk of fairness etc. it still did not feel like someone actually pointing at you and highlighting flaws (sometimes non existent). i do agree that there is a lot of hooplah surrounding fairness and all. But somehow I felt atleast we were left to judge for ourselves.
      I am just so happy I gave her a piece of my mind. it sure did give me peace 😛

  3. Privy Trifles · July 8, 2012

    This was such a wonderful post toffee. I am sure most of the people dont see things in the perspective you mentioned. It reminded me of the story which was something like I cried for new pair of shoes until I saw someone who had no legs. We really need to appreciate ourselves for what we are and at the same time not look down upon people who have not been so fortunate enough.

    • kismitoffeebar · July 9, 2012

      “It reminded me of the story which was something like I cried for new pair of shoes until I saw someone who had no legs. We really need to appreciate ourselves for what we are and at the same time not look down upon people who have not been so fortunate enough.” – you summed it up so beautifully 🙂 Precisely Privy, precisely! 🙂

  4. Sugar · July 8, 2012

    I really don’t know about those sales women. Haven’t come across any here in India. But what u did, I wud have replicated the same way u did. We definitely know what our flaws are but someone saying that in our face is something so not acceptable. Grubby behaviour that was! totally!

    • kismitoffeebar · July 9, 2012

      Ya ! I haven’t seen them in India either. Flaws if major, understandable. but flaws such as “these” don’t really bother us (many a time) and it does get to you when they go harping on it forever ! Not a pint of sensitivity.
      Glad I did what I did 😛

  5. Bikramjit Singh Mann · July 8, 2012

    hmmmmmm I am sure they dont do it here in UK, well at least I think so .. dont know
    but it is bad really bad.. I would have asked the lady to SPEAK a bit more louder as that person who is just getting out of the car in the car park has not heard what she has just said … THAT would shut her up for sure

    but then saying that it does not bother me when someone says anything like that .. if you know what i mean 🙂

    • kismitoffeebar · July 9, 2012

      heheehhe Bikram. They can get insensitive sometimes. not all. Some. and sometimes. but when it happens to you repeatedly and you have reached a point way above your threshold, it is kind of imperative that one lashes back and I did that !
      ya, i know what you mean. It did not bother me for a while. But they do invent flaws at times 😛

  6. pixie · July 9, 2012

    I know exactly what you mean!!
    Once in Bangalore, I think it was outside The Forum, one of the sales girls stopped me, pointed out that I have dark skin and that I finally have help in the form of some sort of lotion!!
    I lost it as well! and ticked her off by mentioning that I was and am very happy with my skin tone and colour! I generally smile and say thank you and move on.. but this lady made me mad!

    • kismitoffeebar · July 9, 2012

      Hugs right back at ya Pixie 🙂 I hope you feeling better 🙂
      Now that’s a first incident that I heard happening in India ! and b’lore. sigh.
      they are ubiquitous, aren’t they?
      yay yay ! Hugs and more hugs to you for losing IT :PYa ya, I smile adn all too. But well, you know how it is. 🙂

  7. Visha · July 9, 2012

    I have never come across such sales-persons, thankfully. As you said, it is hard to find them in India. When I visit the malls here, they suggest these beauty lotions to remove the scars and all, but do not point out on the customers. May be because they know people will get them an earful 😛

    • Visha · July 9, 2012

      *give them

    • kismitoffeebar · July 9, 2012

      Ya Visha. I hadn’t either. but well, Pixie has ! Ya, see, those kind of salespersons are perfectly fine 🙂 They are just doign their job 🙂 I don’t mind any length of exaggeration at times either. Coz’ we do it in with a scoop of salt. Pointing is too much. :/
      Ya, you are right. Earful seems to be the keyword 🙂

  8. Jas · July 9, 2012

    I have never witnessed these except for the people making you fill those holiday winning cards. But they never pick on people passing by and make personal comments.

    Had I been at your place, probably i might have gone ballistic too though I try and control myself a lot.

    “Ofcourse, I could have chosen to ignore the salesperson and act like I was above all this and not tell her any of it. But the fact is that I am not. I don’t choose to be that way either.” I can so understand what you are saying 🙂

    • kismitoffeebar · July 9, 2012

      Ya, true Jas – no personal comments atleast.
      Ya, i try and control a lot. I smile and pass off and soemtimes if I am happy, I listen to them just so that they don’t feel ignored by everyone. I go to the extent of taking pamphlets of things I don’t need.
      But this was unacceptable.
      Thanks Jas for understanding, really! 🙂

  9. greenboochi · July 9, 2012

    Kismi…. 🙂 I would have reacted the same way, and would have never felt sorry.

    Until my sis begged and finally dragged me to the beauty parlor during my wedding.. I fought with her and we agreed only on eye brows threading. nothing more. I had no idea how a beauty parlor looked like even as a teenager. I was very much happy about how I looked, felt content. I dont wish ppl telling me the flaws on my face.. Many a times during the college commute, random ppl in buses and trains would suggest us what to do what not to do for those pimples, blackheads and acne. Once a bus conductor told my friend that she should get her hands waxed ?!?! 😦 We never got into the bus in which he was, later. Though we dont have such aggressive sales ppl here, we do have ppl who tell us how bad we look and what should be done blah blah…

    I hate it when sales guys just try to push their product to us even after the polite decline they hear.. hmmm 😦 1 month back.. a guy came at my door with a “Mega Mart” bag and immediately started saying I should get the last 2 pieces of shirts and 4 sets of socks from him (!) I very politely declined (he looked under 20). He didnt stop.. he kept on saying how he just have 2 pieces left.. and how I can gift them to the “Sir” of the house. I again said No. He wouldn’t go. He claims it to be his project and he needs to sell xx no. of shirts.. and that I SHOULD get the last two pieces. I was as such getting late for office and he wouldnt take NO for an answer.. I was really really irritated. I usually try not to shout at ppl who are not my family (:P) I couldnt help it, before I knew I was shouting at him.. and his face changed. I had no sorry feeling – he was eating up my time and was being aggressive. You know what he had to say after hearing me shout for 5 minutes? “Madam.. do you want to take these 4 sets of socks.. these are cotton and very comfortable” Sigh… 😦

    Last month.. I was returning from office and was still unlocking the doors.. he was at my gate again.. YES.. looks like his college is giving him the same project every month. He again came with 2 shirts and started saying the same. Before he could finish, he heard me scolding him. I asked him which type of college he was studied and what kind of MBA program would send its students to door to door sales? I said I will take him to police and he ran away 😀

    I really couldnt stop and here I am, with such a long comment! 😦

    • kismitoffeebar · July 9, 2012

      Gb Gb Gb Gb !

      I totally understand Gb 🙂 know , tell me about the make up fit. But then, I guess that’s all our choice 🙂
      Oh, I know this story about projects from MBA schools. We have had students coming to ur doorstep with similar reasons. But nobody pestered us to this extent, though!
      Long comments and experiences are always more than welcome dearie 🙂
      I udnerstand how you must have felt. And that too with you getting late ! Phew.

  10. The Girl Next Door · July 9, 2012

    What an interesting post!

    I have met such sales people here in Bangalore and at Ahmedabad too. All that their rants have done is turn me off immensely. I would have maybe even bought the product, if it had been sold in a better way. Instead, I just ended up getting offended, angry, ignored him or her, and walked off.

    I am glad you did what you did too. That was really shoddy behaviour.

    • kismitoffeebar · July 9, 2012

      Ya, TGND ! True, sometimes they manage to do the opposite of what they were purported to do in teh first place.
      he he. I am glad too ! Thankee 🙂

  11. techie2mom · July 9, 2012

    Hey, i would have done the same in this situation, you did completely right thing. What this lady said was outrageous. How do others look like and what they should do is none of her business, why this unsolicited advice?! Simply to sell her products, she was commenting on your appearance (and that too when you look perfect)!!?!?
    here in India, we don’t see sales girls selling sea salt and such stuff, but they are around around selling sundry items and they follow you around.

  12. My Era · July 13, 2012

    I totally agree with you on all fronts. Have seen it happen a lot of times and trust me I too will someday do something you did.
    Loved the post Kismi….hugs 🙂

    • kismitoffeebar · July 13, 2012

      Thanks so much ME 🙂 Seriously, I am happy and peaceful niow 😛 Hugs right back at you!

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