Sitting in the mall watching the shoppers fly by as I ate my lunch, I had the misfortune to be facing The Body Shop and spent the next 30 minutes bearing witness to active acts of avoidance as time and time again the perfume pusher struck out trying to promote the shop fragrance. Throughout the episode two things remained constant: me avoiding eye-contact with the sales-girl in question, and her cheerful facade which directly impressed upon me a feeling of depression. I spent the last few bites of my sandwich figuring out my exit strategy; I didn’t want to dismiss her as everyone else before me had, but I certainly did not want to be engaged. I took the coward’s way out and dashed as soon as she had fixed her attention on the nearest victims.
Like the homeless, perfume sprayers are given a wide berth in the brutal world of department store shopping. Even customers interested in their product avoid them like the plague, making bee-lines around them straight for the nectar of picking up the bottled sweetness with their own hands. The aisles are full with cheery chirps emanating from the assistants in their marked territory: “Hi there – “, “Ladies try the – “, each opening reaching an octave higher than the one before until the voices vibrate on a frequency that no longer impact our conscious minds. Background noise. Behind the glitzy perfume dust and fragranced air, the sales assistant stands, alone, among the throngs of unforgiving and relentless crowds. And when their veil drops it is a sad scene indeed. The soul-destroying experience of continuous rejection is a lot to bear and even more painful to watch. See the saleswoman shift her weight from foot to foot cursing the shoes that cushioned her feet so lovingly some hours before. See the sales-man drop his hands to his sides in resignation as yet another person looking everywhere but at him. And then they open their mouths humming a voice alien to them, to renew the cycle of silent abuse. Behold the sales assistant trying to change the world one scented spritz at a time! Like enslaved magical creatures they prance and jostle for our attention but nobody is interested in their fairy dust.
If you do one act of kindness whilst shopping this Christmas, lend a neck or a wrist to the solitary salesperson holding their allocated weapon of bottled of sex appeal/love/lust/etc, and let them douse you with their spray.