Why the fuck can I no longer go to the mall without feeling like I’m in Mexico? The mall used to be a relaxing place, with the entire walkway dedicated to benches, fountains, seasonal decorations, and horny teens in various stages of the rut. Now, it’s like running a fucking gauntlet of kiosks, carts, and the kind of shuckster that makes Vince, the Sham-Wow guy seem like a deep thinker. This is bullshit. I already have people to harass me while I shop: I call them my children.
For instance, I can no longer go into a mall without some asshole trying to sell me a radio controlled helicopter. Sure, it looks like fun, but so does a lot of other stuff that I don’t bother to try because I have no time, like hot air ballooning or staying sober on weekends. Without fail, as soon as I spot a helicopter kiosk, these douchebags come running up to me because I’m a guy, and guys like shit with engines, and also I have my kids in tow, including two young boys. “Hey, look at this!” they’ll say. They then proceed to make the helicopter do all kinds of wacky stunts right in front of my kids. Now if I don’t buy one of these fucking things, I’m the asshole. Fuck you, pal.
Luckily, I have a way of dealing with this. “Are these things really that easy to control?” I’ll ask. They practically fall all over themselves offering me the controls. A buying sign! Someone gave us a buying sign! I then rocket the helicopter up as far as it will go, and then send it into a high-speed nosedive. “Doesn’t seem very sturdy to me,” I’ll say as it shatters on the floor. They sometimes have a problem with that, but you know what? Screw you. Stop constantly hassling people, and maybe they’ll stop hassling you back on occasion.
The same holds true for the cell-phone carriers. Look, Verizon, I already own a smart phone, I just upgraded it to the latest smart phone, and I’m under contract. To Verizon! Stop fucking hassling me, I’m a customer! I’ve actually had to show them my phone with the tiny Verizon logo on the bottom. “Ok, sometimes people lie to us about that.” Yeah, well, the subtle message they are trying to send is that if people lie to avoid talking to you, then you are an asshole.
Seriously, I can’t walk fifty fucking feet without some prick demanding my attention in order to sell me shit. One time a guy next to a cart full of sunglasses said, “Sir! Sir! … I know you can hear me!” So I turned and said, “Yet I’m walking away and you’re still talking to me. Why?” Take a fucking hint.
This is exactly how I felt when I used to go to Nogales, Mexico (back when it was at least somewhat safe to go down there). Right across the border was a wilderness of shops and carts, everyone jumping out of their skin to get your attention. But at least down there you could haggle and usually get a shot of tequila out of a purchase. Kiosks in the mall will not haggle, which is bullshit. You’re desperate enough to actually grab me by the arm and pull me over to your cart to make a sale, but you can’t come down from that shitty price at all? And where’s the booze, goddammit? Don’t you know anything about sales?
Knowing that they don’t haggle, I sometimes use that as an excuse as I walk by. “No thanks. $40? That’s twice as much as I can get it elsewhere.” But very occasionally they’ll answer with something like, “I can come down from $40 a bit.” This is when I hit them with a technique I invented in Mexico that I like to call reverse haggling. It almost got me stabbed the first time I used it.
Merchant: Hey buddy, where do you keep your cell phone? In your pocket? You’ll scratch the screen doing that. Check out this awesome new case for the iPhone.
Me: No, thanks.
Merchant: C’mon, you can protect your phone and at this price you’d be crazy not to!
Me: Sorry, not interested. Plus, $30 is too high.
Merchant: I can come down from $30. What do you think it’s worth?
Merchant: Look, this isn’t a piece of crappy plastic, this is space-age polymer with a carbon-fiber shell. I can go down to $27, but no lower.
Me: Ok, $19.
Merchant: What? No, you just said $20!
Me: And then I said $19. Now I’m saying $18.
Merchant: WHAT? Hey, wait a minute, that’s not how haggling works!
Me: It is when you’re dealing with me, pal. $17.
Merchant: Ok, ok, look. For you, I’ll go $25.
Merchant: C’mon! This is not how you do it!
Merchant: Ok! Ok! Fine, $20, but when you love your case you gotta promise to tell all of your friends where you got it.
Merchant: Fuck you!
As you can imagine, I didn’t exactly do anything to promote cross-border relations when I tried this in Mexico.
I understand that times are tough, and I understand that brick and mortar establishments are taking an absolute beating from online merchants and the fuckfaces over at Walmart. But pissing off your customers is really bad business, as the guy who had to sweep up the helicopter can tell you. So, in the interest of helping you out (and hence effectively bailing out the RC helicopter industry) here is a guide to peacefully coexisting with potential customers at the mall.
Eye Contact Rules – If someone is avoiding eye contact with you, even going so far as faking a heart attack, this person is not a customer. Leave him or her alone. Unless it really is a heart attack, then go ask the Verizon assholes to call 911.
Do Not Touch – I don’t necessarily mind it when a friend throws a friendly arm around my shoulder, or even gives me a hug. I’m not an anti-touchy person. But, dude, you work in the fucking mall, the most germ intensive place this side of the CDC. Get your grubby fucking paws off of me. Do you regularly relieve yourself in a mall bathroom? Do you, during the course of your work day, come into contact with surfaces touched by literally thousands of adults, children, and potential ebola victims each day? Yes? Then back the fuck off, asshole! If I wanted disease, I wouldn’t be out shopping, I’d be asking Lindsay Lohan out on a date.
“No” Means “No”, Unless it is Repeated, Then it Means “Fuck You” – If someone listens to part of your sales pitch and says, “No thanks!” you had your shot, and you blew it. Thank them for their time and move on. Do not continue walking alongside them, trying to rescue a sale that isn’t there. It makes you come off needy, like an aging Sally Field after getting pity fucked (“You like me! You really, really like me!”)
Watch The Walk – If a person doesn’t even slow their walk to talk to you, they are either in a rush, or they don’t want to talk to you. Seriously, how can you be intelligent enough to have mastered verbal communications yet not know this?
I just want to be able to go to the mall in peace. I don’t want a fucking helicopter, I don’t want a cell-phone, and I don’t want the weirdly aggressive Chinese guys giving me a 10 minute back rub on chair in the middle of the fucking mall. If I do want these things, I know where to go. I will come to you. You’re easy to find, after all. You’re next to the iPhone case salesman who is loading his gun.