Narcissit? Who me?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Story (for Alison)

I don’t like salespeople. I know some of you people are sales people and for that I am sorry. I was also once a sales person, and I hated myself too, so it’s not anything personal. I am sure you are all lovely, talented people, but you scare the absolute eff out of me. You are so intimidating and I have to talk to you, and that scares me. Also I have no money so I feel that I’m leading you on when you come and talk, and all I am there to do is snoop. My fear applies to salespeople who sell anything from cake to Chryslers. Maybe I took the whole thing about talking to strangers to heart a tad too much. Maybe I am a sociopath. Maybe it is just more insecurities for me to deal with? Who know? Who cares?

But for this exciting segment I am going to tell a story that has been told and retold so many times it will probably be printed in the bible in a thousand years. It highlights my awkwardness in public places, and social interaction and sales. Enjoy.

It all started one day when I was invited over to my uncle’s house for tea. I was excited because I am usually never invited anywhere! Especially by people who know me! Especially by my family! (I am just kidding I know they love me. They may well be the only ones) so, understandably I was excited. So excited, I asked my darling favorite uncle (the others don’t invite me to drink hot liquids with them!) if I could bring anything with me. He said I could bring whatever I wanted. I didn’t know what I wanted but I knew that his children, as children often do, enjoyed eating sweets. I narrowed my options by weighing my favorites compared with what I knew my uncle liked, cross referenced with what I could make, and what I had on hand. Since I knew that my uncle hadn’t developed a taste for year old bags of flour with water added for taste, I passed on making anything myself.

Then I took into consideration things I could afford and things I could buy on my way to his house. I decided on donuts from a large chain coffee store because they are just damn tasty, cheap, and on my route. On my way to the donut shop I counted up how maybe people that were going to be in attendance: several other guests, my uncle, several visiting dignitaries, his children, and me. Overall there was going to be 9 people there. I thought “Great! I need only 9 donuts.” This was going to be simple.

Now I should say that one of my (many) problems with sales people is that I am, too often, an easy mark. I mean, if you tell me to buy something; I buy it. You say it looks good; I buy two. You ask me sign up for a program; I do. Even if it was my first and last time in a store, I sign up for the frequent shoppers card. I had realized this only recently before my donut excursion, which is probably why it amounted to such a debacle.

In my mind I was newly determined not be pushed around by sales people (which I took to mean anyone selling me anything. Even donuts) I entered the donut peddlers shop. I waited in line and mentally selected the type of donut that I desired. I selected a delicious looking chocolate glazed, maple cream filled, circle of happiness that made my pancreas skip a beat. I saw on the display shelf that there were 10 delectable little pastry soldiers bunkered in a paper lined basket behind the counter. Because I am always trying to make things simple and easy I told myself to just take those ten donuts. I had decided. I had made my selection. I planned my order. I try to always do this because whenever I don’t have exactly what I am going to say prepared I get all tough-tied and stumble over my words like an idiot. I was determined to not be an idiot.

Now this wouldn’t come as a surprise to some people, and it didn’t to me, that donuts and other bakery items are often sold in dozens. This, in laymen terms, means twelve. Twelve. This is important fact, an important fact that I knew about before I went to the store, before I counted the guests, and before I made my selection. It was common knowledge.

But none of this common knowledge entered my pretty little head as I stepped up to order. I blame the crippling social phobias; my mind was set on ordering my cream filled, dream puffs. My sentence was selected. I stepped up to the gangly adolescent behind the counter and placed my order:

“Can I have those maple donuts, please?” I said in my totally cool, faux-relaxed, yet uncontrollably quivering ordering voice.

“How many?” Said the totally unenthused towering tangle of teenage man-boy-ness.

“Ummm... just those ten there” I replied. Cucumbers, were considered warm compared to me in this moment. I even threw in a nonchalant hand wave to prove my passivity.

“Ten? You want ten?” He asked. Eyebrows raised.

“Yeah, just those over there” I stated, repeating my charismatic wave.

“Are you sure?” Said the Cashier. “We have more in the back”

“No” I replied steadfastly. I didn’t need any more. There was only going to be nine people there. I was only going to get those ten! Those ten right behind him! I was saving this boy work! I was placing an easy order! Why wasn’t he thankful?!

“Are you sure? You can pick any other ones you want.” The Cashier asked.

“Oh, no thanks. I just want those ten maple ones” I said, sticking to my guns.

“A dozen is cheaper” Said the boy.

“Oh that is alright” I said. He wasn’t going to make me back down now. He wasn’t going to trick me. I planned my order. I may be stupid, but I was going to have a back bone.

“Are you sure? We can bring out more?” He said, with a twinkle of a sales pitch.

“No.” I said. “I only need ten donuts. I don’t need twelve!”

Reluctantly the teen punched in my order. Carefully selecting the button on this till marked “half dozen” and manually entering in “One Donut” four more times. The cost being greater than, say, if I had accepted two more donuts, and had him press the “One Dozen” button directly below. The kid knew this was stupid. I knew it. The guy at the back of the line knew it. I was some sort of idiot that was crazy enough to order fewer goods for more money.

I think that my biggest fear is that I am going to be judged by strangers. They are going to go home to all their other stranger friends and talk about me, like I am some sort of person that matters. I have a slight case of superiority mixed in with my other bundle of neurosis. I know it doesn’t matter. And this was just donuts and if I had just acted like a regular human being, he would have had no reason to judge me. But now, I am sure he did. But it didn’t turn out that way. I had made my choice, and I would have to live with the consequences.

The best part of the story is how it ends. I pay my money, more than other people pay for more of the same product, and another kid comes by and looks at the little order screen behind the till and snorts:

“Ten donuts?” He snickers. “What do I put those in?”

“Just put them in a dozen box” says cashier rolling his eyes.

So not only do I get to pay more for what I came for, it comes in a box that clearly displays two vacant little spaces which the donuts’ brethren could have occupied. So I show up for tea looking like I gorged myself on a couple of the cream filled donuts before I had gotten there! I told my uncle a fib about how it was so busy in the store, and how I had bought the last ten donuts in the place. I had to lie, I had already embarrassed myself in front of a whole crew of bakery employees, I wasn’t going to turn red in front of my family. And to add insult to… even more insult my uncle has three children. There were nine guests and I bought ten donuts. If I had purchased twelve, or a dozen, they each could have had two donuts. Instead they fought over the last one. Oops.

But at least I stood up for myself. Right?

1 comment:

Jillian said...

oh, I LOVE this story so much.. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I have told my parents it because I thought it was so funny