Appearances can be deceiving
da island coconut
There have been days in my life when the
stark reality of the world we live in slapped me in the face.
A few weeks ago, I received quite a lashing.
I am a firm believer that working in retail is essential to
every human being. Serving others not only makes one humble,
but also more respectful. Every so often, however, the opposite
happens and the result is something sticky and over-salted
that lingers in the back of your mouth.
Walking into a well-respected music store early on Saturday
morning, I anticipated an environment of encouragement and
appreciation of all things musical. I was with three highly
accomplished musicians who were looking to see what this fine
store had to offer.
In this day and age, when chain stores like Chapters and HMV
promote testing out their merchandise before buying, it’s
hard to believe that such a store would give such grief to
this trio of lads. Granted, it was a Saturday morning and sellers
and buyers alike had been blessed with a hangover, and the
customers didn’t look too wealthy; but since when has
it become store policy to be rude to customers that quite possibly
could be spending money?
I can appreciate disrespect to merchandise playing a factor
in deciding whether a customer is worthy, but watching these
boys was like watching Willy Wonka in his beloved Chocolate
Factory — they meant no harm, they just wanted to play.
If they had taken a minute to stop scowling at us, they would
have realized they had a masters of performance music and a
couple of PhD candidates on hand, not a couple of thugs looking
to take their instrument out for an imitation of a Kiss concert.
At what point does common sense get clouded by image perception?
I’ve been told by my business-minded parents time and
again that presentation of oneself is the most important thing.
Are we afraid the salespeople won’t give us the time
Our society has become preoccupied by what other people think
of us and we’ve forgotten what it means to do something
based on principle. This music store felt the need to treat
us like a group of high school students — which, in retrospect,
we may have had the appearance of.
Not all stores are like this. I can name a handful of local
stores that take the time to chat, let you browse, educate
you and let you educate them. That same afternoon, we ended
up in a high-end audio/video store and we watched TV and tested
their sound systems with our own CD, all in the comfort of
our sweat pants and hoodies. Not once did a salesperson bat
an eye — that is professionalism.
At the end of the day, the loss of one customer doesn’t
affect a business. But it’s personal gratification to
walk into a Chanel store wearing runners and a fleece just
to see the scowls. After all, when you’ve got an oversized
fleece on, they can’t see you giving them the finger.