Like the plentiful sunshine and the yummy but fattening food sometimes you can have it too good. This is apparent when out indulging in my favourite past time, shopping. With the exception of supermarkets, a sales assistant is always strategically placed to welcome you. Once captive attention is drawn to the latest promotion and so the stalking begins. Worse still are the large pharmacies with predators at the ready armed with a basket to put in toiletries that you the unwitting victim absolutely need.
Unaware I was about to be trapped I asked where the cleansers were. Huge mistake, this is their cue to pounce. Directing you to the most expensive brands from France or Switzerland and singing their praises as if they were miracle cures. You’d think you would turn into Princess Di overnight. Just a cool few thousand dollars will do it and you get a membership card with a big discount enabling you to take advantage of more fab offers.
The most disturbing thing is you only came to get some ordinary cleanser and they tempt you with all these goodies that are guaranteed to turn Cinders into an irrestible princess who bags the prince and lives happily ever after. They are very very persuasive and even more determined. They do not give up, like duracell extra they can go on and on and you can’t switch them off. Even if you diplomatically turn down one item they will present you with slightly cheaper alternatives but not by much. They follow the game plan to the teeth and are black belt masters in hard sale. This is how it goes: make small talk and pretend to be the customer’s friend with their best interests at heart. You want to help them improve their complexion so they gain confidence and bag that promotion or Mr. Right or both. Next recommend solutions to their problem skin. Be sure to start with the most expensive beauty products. If the customer rejects introduce alternatives. Be persistent until they lose the will to live and concedes defeat. Escort them to the nearest till and cut off all escape routes. Be vigilant until cash change hands. Finally you can breathe a sigh of relief and relax until the next victim appears.
One supremo, the manageress used me for her masterclass on hard sale and not taking no for an answer. She actually placed the four for one offer of cleansing peel in front of the till. Fortuately by then I had wised up and prompted by the Little One we made good our escape. She can put as much stuff on the counter as she likes but I am the one with the wallet. No siree, I am not falling for that again. Once burnt twice shy.
In clothes shops it’s the same, just no basket at the ready. Same greeting as you enter and then you are similarly stalked. Want to just browse leisurely on your own? More chance of Santa coming down the chimney with whatever you desire in August. You see the service is truly beyond the call of duty. You really can have too much of a good thing.
Strolling through Tai Po market, my local for cheap clothes, fresh choi sum and lycees, on the lookout for some shorts as my latest pair of sexy denim mysteriously split down my backside. Is this nature’s way of telling me I have been enjoying the local cuisine a bit too much? You wouldn’t believe it but I used to be petite and overnight have morphed into XL and even an outrageous XLL!
Imagine my delight when I spotted a promising pair. And joy of joy, I can even try it on, a rare treat in HK. I spied a toilet at the back, tried on the shorts and indeed it fitted. Yippee! Might as well use the toilet too. Must be my lucky day.
My good mood was disturbed by loud banging on the door. Two women’s voices screaming, ‘What the hell are you doing in there? Using the toilet? Pay a fine of $500 or we’ll call the police!’ Shocked I rushed out half dressed and curtly shown to the ‘real’ fitting room. Retail Therapy had abruptly turned into nightmare in Tai Po.
Indeed there was a notice displayed on the toilet door stating exactly what they threatened. The toilet is strictly not for customers’ use otherwise …!
Gripping the offending pair of denim shorts traumatised I decided I had better buy the shorts. Goodness knows what they would do to me if I had shoplifted. Chop off my hand with a cleaver so I can’t nick any more sexy shorts? Luckily the shop assistant had calmed down and good news everybody, a call to 999 was not needed. If they had insisted I wouldn’t have paid. Let the police come.
To be honest, is their threat legal and hasn’t the police got better things to do, like go catch some real criminals. In fact I have more leg to stand on suing them for intimidation and emotional distress.
This over the top reaction is a graphic indicator of the stress Hong Kongers are under daily.
Moral of the story: Do not try shorts on in shop toilets and definitely do not use the w.c. if you want to hang onto your feel good factor.