One major change in moving to Denver from NYC was how much friendlier salespeople are here. I’m originally from Indiana, so it’s not like this should be news, but the New York attitude had become the norm for me. It was not unusual for a store employee to openly roll their eyes at you, blatantly ignore you, or make snide comments about your purchases, so you learn to wear headphones and always be throwing a dirty look. Like that graduation song says, live in New York, but leave before it makes you hard. (That’s what she said.)
When I first moved here, I was taken aback when the girl at Target asked how my day was going. I wondered what she could be trying to sell me, since I was already giving her money. It just kept going from there! The guy at the grocery store complimented my ring. The man at the liquor store cheerfully announced, “hey, it’s the girl from Indiana!” when I walked in…this could also have been a sign that I was drinking too much, but let’s not think about that too hard.
After being wary for a few weeks, I leaned into this change pretty hard. I was working freelance out of my kitchen for six months, and I was starved for human interaction, so those perky teenage baristas at Starbucks were my saving grace.
But now that I’ve assimilated back into the world of chit-chat, I’ve noticed how damn awkward these interactions can be. Yesterday, I bought a mattress (side note: HOORAY! No more air mattress!), and after laying on only three beds, I pointed to the middle one and said, “I’ll take it.” The salesman, who had paintings of dragons taped up everywhere, said, “Hey, you’re an easy sell. That’s how I like ’em.”
In my life, I have now been called a cheap date and an easy sell. PSA to men: women do not enjoy this.
Then I kicked around a couple of furniture stores, dreaming of buying some furniture for my living room, when a bike store caught my eye. Hoping to cheer myself up after the Lady Navigator fiasco, I walked in and asked for some advice about bikes. The guy asked what I’d be using it for, and after hearing I was mainly interested in weekend rides to the park, the salesman told me that I would be fine with one of the $500 bikes (what cheap pieces of trash, amiright?), but he rides about 20,000 miles a year (or 2,000? I checked out at the first sign of condescension) AND he races, so he’s pretty much on the opposite end of the spectrum from me and has several $5,000 bikes.
He then asked, “are you German?”
“Uhhh, no…” I replied. “Why?”
“I dunno. Tall. Blonde. Pale.”
PSA to men: most women do not like being called “pale.”
He told me to come back after my slightly broken ankle healed and take a test ride – though, of course, he had to make a crack about how he wasn’t sure they should even sell me a bike, since I seem pretty clumsy. He tried to give me a brochure to take home, but they didn’t have any catalogs of women’s bikes in stock – nor, apparently, had they had any for months!
At that point, it was 2 pm and I hadn’t eaten, and I’d pretty much had it.
I looked at the three dude salespeople gathered around me. “I can’t believe you don’t have any brochures for women’s bikes.” They shrugged. “Do any women work at this store?”
One cocked his head and said, “yeah, we’ve got one. And then there’s another, but we keep her locked in the back, haha.”
“Well,” I said, “you need to tell them that they need to look out for their own, because obviously this Sexist. Male. Bureaucracy. isn’t going to.”
I realized I was chiding a bunch of strangers and pulled myself together. We all laughed it off, and I bought a sandwich. It was the first time I was a little nostalgic for the hands-off shopping experience in New York.
But really…I’ll take an awkward interaction over no interaction any day because it reminds me what a surprising, exciting life we get to lead. So keep it up, weirdos of America! There will always be people like me who appreciate your contribution. (Selfishly, this gives me hope that somebody is out there appreciating all the weird things I say. Karma!)