December 22, 2009

The Pain Of The Unfulfilled Ox Seller

I went to a Jewish school, yet what I don’t know about religion could fill a (holy) book. For some reason, though, there are two pieces of Jewish law that have stuck with me over the years. One is the law that Jewish husbands are required to please their wives in bed (a fine reason to convert, if you ask me). The other is the law that shoppers must never ask the price of items that they have no intention of buying.

Both laws follow the same principle: it is wrong to get a person’s hopes up if they are not going to be fulfilled.

I try to be a good Jew – and I certainly encourage my husband to be one (in the bedroom)– but that law about shopping is impossible to keep. Thank god we Jews don't celebrate Christmas, because clearly, whoever wrote it didn’t bargain on the hard sell techniques of the 21st century.

Following the Jewish law of shopping is far more challenging today than it would have been two thousand years ago. In ancient times, if you didn’t want an ox, you simply wouldn’t visit the ox seller. You certainly wouldn’t have to worry about hurting the ox seller’s feelings. After all, if he didn’t sell his ox he’d just ride it himself, or eat it, or do whatever one did with oxen in those days.

But in today’s consumer society ox sellers are far more competitive. They have very sophisticated sales techniques. They approach you in shopping centres. They send you letters and emails. And they phone you late at night. From call centres in India.

Now, I can deal with unsolicited ox sellers if I don’t have to see them. I can rip up brochures, delete emails, even hang up on telemarketers (especially if they’re calling from India, where there’s a very small chance of running into them on the street).

But put me in front of a live ox seller and I crumble. I’m terrified of hurting their feelings. Even when I have no intention of buying their product, I have to listen to their entire spiel. Even when the product is completely ridiculous, I have to examine it with feigned interest, thank the salesperson for the information, then inform them with a look of pensive contemplation that I’ll ‘think about it’ before hurrying guiltily away.

It’s a real problem. Just the other day, for example, a quick trip to the chemist to buy face cream turned into a twenty minute ordeal, when I was approached by a sincere looking sales assistant wielding a menacing hand-held buffing device.

“That cream is no good,” she whispered confidentially. “What you want is the Home Facial Dermabrasion System.”

My heart sank. I really wanted my cream, but I didn’t want to insult the nice saleswoman. “No, I…” I stammered.

“Great!” she said brightly. “I’ll give you a demonstration!”

And so, with the flick of a switch, I was led into sin. I submitted as the poor, hopeful saleswoman took my left hand, buffed it vigorously with the device, then applied goo to make it soft. Then I meekly joined her in marvelling at the amazing silkiness and rosiness of my left hand, which in fact looked exactly the same as my right hand, only gooey. Then I asked her the price of the device - knowing full well I wasn’t going to buy it - before thanking her and telling her I’d definitely think it over.

My sin, however, did not go unpunished. I left the store without my face cream, and now I’m too embarrassed to go back. Still, it could have been much worse.

I could have left with an ox.

17 comments:

  1. What I know about religion could fit in a wholey book (just the wholes though) but I do know that was simply brilliant.

    I often have to shop far away from home because I am mortified about bumping into a sales person that I once said "I'll be back" to. I am pretty sure that they wont recognise me but just in case they are transferred to another centre I now wear a mask shopping. Also helps when I bump into people I don't, ahem, need.

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  2. What about the french guys in the middle of a shopping centre with their crushed pearl moisturiser. I suddenly find the window of the bidet shop opposite very interesting when walking past.


    I do like that first one you talked about - women in bed and all that. Does it also cover not having to return the favour?


    Happy Holidays X

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  3. Very good blog. I find it is easier when with children ( the only thing that is easier when shopping with children) - lots of "what did you just say bub 1" and "yes, you are right we must hurry to get to (spots sign) Godfreys" The puzzled looks afterward and complaints that they didn't really say anything and how EMBARRASSING am I as a mum, are well worth getting past the Proactiv stand, or the one for World Vision (double guilt - but I don't buy a coffee a day or even a week). You are right though, the people who approach you in shops are worst. Completely trapped. Sigh.

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  4. Nopei don't even bother to stop! I am honest and upfront! I don't have any money mister man so I cannotafford to buy a goat for that Nigerian town! Besides they emailed me last night selling Viagra and I hear they're doing pretty well out of selling that and can prob buy their own goat!

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  5. I FEEL your pain. I too was a constant victim to the "pity me salesperson" until I discovered that walking briskly past with my mobile phone surgically attached to me ear worked a treat. Until my mobile phone rang in the middle of one of my "conversations."
    And I'm Catholic but quite frankly, after reading about the laws for Jewish husbands, I'm considering converting...

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  6. I used to find it difficult until one young bitch- troll (yes that was her official title) stepped infront if me, walked backwards and told me that while I had lovely skin, the bags under my eyes let my whole face down. I was hungover, I had my period, and I had just spent a harrowing day with a friend who had lost a child. Needless to say bitch-troll moved her orange toned face and body rather quickly as I uttered the words, quietly and politely 'get the fuck out if my way, sweetheart.' I actually think they all have a crime stoppers like sketch if my lovely skin but terrible baggy eyed face behind all their counters. Whatever, I have not been bothered by any ever again. But I'd like to see them try!

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  7. I tried to buy an ox online once and ended up with a fox. The penis pump I purchased is also woefully inadequate.

    In fact, I think it might be a blender.

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  8. Crikey! From ox sellers, to being pleasured in bed, to fighting off dermabrasion sellers, you lead a full life don't you? Thank God I'm not Jewish.When you're C of E, there's no pressure to perform..........

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  9. But my ex is Jewish... I don't think anyone ever told him that rule...

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  10. I've always rememberd that rule too- and i thought they were supposed to male you laugh as well? Go down or be smite down, you might say.

    I have your other problem with hairdressers and waiters, even if they have cut a bit of ear off or served me poo.

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  11. You've forgotten the most important promise they make under the chuppah....they promise to clothe you in the manner to which you are accustomed. I shopped a
    lot while I was engaged to hype up level of what I was accustomed to....

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  12. rofl at nomie. nicely said.

    i just look away. talk to whoever i am walking with. or i say 'no thanks' and keep walking.

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  13. Little girl from East St KildaDecember 23, 2009 at 12:19 PM

    The Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses taught me how to say 'No.' Or rather it was the frustrating process of watching my mother being unable to say 'No' to our regular uninvited door knockers, which taught me how to very nicely decline any offers of unwanted goods or salvation.

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  14. Hahaha...so very true! For example, I go out with the thought of buying a skirt and always come back with everything else other than a skirt.

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  15. "Don't ask the price if you don't intend on buying the item" is perhaps the best thing I have ever read with regards to retail!!

    I've worked in retail for what seems like a billion years... Never really been in the pushy sales department- just shop assistant/checkout job. I don't actively sell anything to people, just help them if they ask.

    I currently work in a small business where I'm usually the only person in the shop at any given time and yet a lot of customers expect me to have a million hands and help/serve them at the same time as I'm helping/serving someone else- and most of the time it's people who just want to know "how much is this?" when I'm in the middle of serving someone else- yet every single item is labeled and priced in our shop but they're too lazy to actually look on the item!!

    I've had customers who've spent over 45 minutes in my shop- consistently asking "how much is this?" even when I say to them, "the prices are all on the items, I don't know off the top of my head" and then not actually buying anything because they were just browsing!

    I don't mind customers who have a purpose for using up my time- they're there wanting price comparisons/advice with gift shopping/need to pay, but the ones who just loiter and ask questions when they can clearly see I'm flat out busy give me the shits!! If you don't intend on actually buying anything then leave me alone!!!

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  16. "Don't ask the price if you don't intend on buying the item" is perhaps the best thing I have ever read with regards to retail!!

    I've worked in retail for what seems like a billion years... Never really been in the pushy sales department- just shop assistant/checkout job. I don't actively sell anything to people, just help them if they ask.

    I currently work in a small business where I'm usually the only person in the shop at any given time and yet a lot of customers expect me to have a million hands and help/serve them at the same time as I'm helping/serving someone else- and most of the time it's people who just want to know "how much is this?" when I'm in the middle of serving someone else- yet every single item is labeled and priced in our shop but they're too lazy to actually look on the item!!

    I've had customers who've spent over 45 minutes in my shop- consistently asking "how much is this?" even when I say to them, "the prices are all on the items, I don't know off the top of my head" and then not actually buying anything because they were just browsing!

    I don't mind customers who have a purpose for using up my time- they're there wanting price comparisons/advice with gift shopping/need to pay, but the ones who just loiter and ask questions when they can clearly see I'm flat out busy give me the shits!! If you don't intend on actually buying anything then leave me alone!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Little girl from East St KildaApril 21, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    The Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses taught me how to say 'No.' Or rather it was the frustrating process of watching my mother being unable to say 'No' to our regular uninvited door knockers, which taught me how to very nicely decline any offers of unwanted goods or salvation.

    ReplyDelete

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