Thursday, October 22, 2009

Conversation is a two way street

After the GSA meeting ended today, I popped down to the Mall up the tracks to do some American shopping that the exchange rate was beaconing me with.

In the mall, I discovered a new form of salesmanship, which did not seem to exist in America the last time I went shopping here- the steamroller pitch.

As I was passing a stall selling some sort of froo-froo cosmeticalogical instruments, the lady at the stall said, “excuse me.” Before I could so much as introduce my self she had grabbed my hand, filed off the slickensites of my fingernail, and was well on the way to achieving an optical polish before I managed to express my disinterest.

This approach was repeated at the very next stall. Before I could utter so much as a “G’day”, the stallkeeper was thrusting his wares in my face.

“Excuse me, excuse me sir, how would you like some genuine Australian sheepskin ugg boots… You can wear them in…”

At this point I should mention two things.

Firstly, years in Australia has left me with a hybrid accent, which I can dial between 90% American and 70% Australian depending on the situation. While I have a way to go before achieving neutrality, I can generally bend it far enough in the correct direction to make a retail transaction without attracting attention.

Secondly, there is a genuine Australian Ugg boot factory about a mile from my work place. The guy there is fantastic- he gave LLLL a free pair of cute little baby uggs when we replaced Mrs. Lemmings boots. So I was curious as to whether they were doing well enough to sell overseas.

Dialing my accent down to its most ocker setting, I asked the salesman a simple question:

“Soowich factr’y are they made in?”

But he wasn’t listening, he was selling. He deflected his rapidfire exclamation of their virtues enough to mention the brand (which I have forgotten), until I deflected him again.

“So are they made in Austraaaaalia?”

He still hadn’t broken stride “They are made in China, but I can assure you that they sheep skins they are made of really do come from Australia, As you can see we have blah blah blah…”

And then he mentioned a price which was really not consistent with the quality of his boots. As he continued on, I realized that I had no choice but to interrupt him.

“Now look here, mate. Do you really expect me to pay twice as much for some Chinese factory worker to put the blokes down the street out of business, just so-”

All of a sudden is mouth stopped moving, and his eyes expanded until they resembled saucers.

I was amused enough to forgive him for his rudeness at that point and leave the lesson there, until he regained his composure enough to defend his actions.

“Well, what am I supposed to do, I can’t tell where you are from just by looking at you...”

And that, my friends is why we pause, introduce ourselves, and say G’day.

Conversation is a two way street.


Lockwood said...

I can't apologize for my whole country- too many idiots for any excuse. But I agree that ultra-aggressive marketing and promotion has become epidemic here, even in my beloved Oregon. It's offensive and obnoxious.

Yami McMoots said...

This is why I never go to malls.

Silver Fox said...

Your accent seemed definitely discernible, but no doubt that had something to do with quality (or lack thereof) of the beers.

Robin Johnson's Economics Web Page said...

You needed to add "MATE", uttered very loudly at the end of your question in your best Ostryanne axe cint.