One day, I found myself stepping inside a showroom for purchasing an item that I desperately needed as the broken counterpart at home was giving me an eye sore of sorts and moreover the leakage was wasting a precious resource called water. I thought it would be a great opportunity to check out the entire range of items filling the showroom’s displays that might prove expedient back home. I observed that the ever so subservient doorman who was always so quick to mind the door at the entrance, did not bother to stand and hold the door ajar for me when I made my entry into the supposedly plush showroom. Frankly, I did not mind the uncourteous act and also did not hold it against the poor chap for failing on this count as I always viewed it as a wrongful and demeaning human gesture that outlasted its usage, just as opening the door to the car. I find it below human dignity to perform such menial acts especially for fellow human beings who are capable enough physically. Further, I don’t understand why should the wealthy people get all the respect and the poor shown the door? In my view, a knowledgeable, an erudite or an intelligent person might command respect of others but not subservience. What’s harm in opening the door oneself irrespective of one’s financial standing or bank balances? I find both the acts, opening the door to a showroom and the car, thoroughly abhorrent and asymmetric behaviours, conjuring up memories of the erstwhile imperial rule in India. The main question is ‘why can’t one perform these simple acts for himself?’
Unmindful of the behaviour met out to me just seconds back, I wandered inside only to look bedazzled. I walked up to the most elegant piece that attracted my attention from a distance. The taps, faucets and showers on display were exotic and impressive too. I was totally lost for words as the designs held me entranced and spellbound. I hopped from one piece to another and another. I casually checked my watch and I realised that even after 15 minutes of wandering in the showroom, no sales person came to me to understand my requirement and assist me. I thought that they might have been busy with other customers who preceded me in the showroom. I kept my patience and wandered some more. Then after half an hour when I did not get any help, I got a little agitated and furious. I thought to myself, “This is very unlike of a big brand and a showroom like the one I was in.” I went straight to the counter and requested for assistance. When one came, I narrated my requirement and there came a rude reply, “We used to keep the product 5 years back, not anymore.” I agreed with the expert advice and turned my gaze at another article just ahead.” I was about to ask the salesman the details of another that might work instead. In came his interjection, “All our products are expensive and cost a lot. You can buy a similar product at nearby shops in the bazaar (marketplace). There you will get it a lot cheaper within your price range.”
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“What did he mean? Hello, I have come to this showroom of yours, why are you turning me elsewhere.” I felt really bad at the nonchalant and rude retort. Was it actually an insult or simply uncourteous behaviour on the salesperson’s part, how should I take it, I could not say?” Isn’t a salesperson supposed to explain the features and benefits of their products to its customers in the most satisfactory manner that arouses the customer’s interest and he or she is motivated to take a buying decision. Instead, what I found was a sort of negative selling, discouraging me from buying. I thought to myself, “If I had been a nosy customer or the one who asks too many details, I could be faulted. But in my case, I could not understand what did I do to arouse their displeasure?” Starting from the doorman to the salespersons, all seemed to be reluctant in dispensing their services to me.
Then, suddenly it struck me that I was wearing my sneakers, slippers and no bracelet made of gold. I also did not alight from a luxury car and therefore did not ask for valet services. I did not wear expensive designer clothes or accessories. Was that my fault? I was now certain that the salesmen had judged me by my exterior looks and painted a picture of fine that did not match a rosy picture of one’s financial standing. They had somehow formed an opinion about my financial status from the looks I projected. Maybe this is the practice they have been following for years and have never been wrong in their guestimate even once. I don’t say they were thoroughly wrong but is it really correct posturing, a right way to deal with a customer? It just reduces a customer to a sack of money, doesn’t it? Helping wealthy people who ask no questions and pay whatever sum is demanded and consigning others to hell who ask questions and demand best prices. Its show business afterall!
This episode goes on to prove that in today’s times too, people judge the book by its cover rather than content. Most of us have learnt to treat others with equal malice and contempt unless there is a big reason not to. Starting on the wrong foot won’t help anyone or the cause of egalitarianism. I do understand that salespeople, anywhere and everywhere in the world, deal with numerous customers of all hues, shapes and sizes on a daily basis would have mastered the fine art of deciphering the minutest of nuances among them the hard way through lost sales and cancelled orders. They can tell in seconds not minutes, those who will buy and those who won’t. For them, mannerisms and spoken words might be deceptive but the scent of money is not. Opulence shows itself in every way, be it the way you carry yourself, your talks or your behaviour, it just finds a way to manifest and assert itself outwardly. I might not have worn any affected behaviour or the special scent that day or for that matter ever in life. I would continue to be judged for what I cannot buy, not for what I may do to change the state of deprived and underprivileged classes or how my work would benefit the society. All salespeople had grave doubts if I could afford their products and were certain that I had meandered into their showroom by mistake. If not this then what explains the treatment I received at the store?