The salespeople in Cambodia are generally cute and sweet, and they use it to their advantage. They are often so friendly and warm that it's a pleasure to buy from them, even when you're not looking for anything. Somehow, I find myself saying yes occasionally to things I wouldn't normally spend money on.
There are, however, exceptions to this rule. Yesterday, as we sat on the beach, we were often visited by cute, persistent children trying to sell us things, usually bracelets. One such kid was not only very persistent, but also mean and spiteful.
She began normally, showing off her coat-hanger of colorful, dangling bracelets to our group. Then I countered normally, smiling and shaking my head, saying "no thank you." And then her face turned sour, morphing into a scowl. She proceeded to pester everyone and generally be mean.
And thus began our standoff.
What's your name?
Your name is No?
I'm Tara, nice to meet you.
From some other sales girls I learned that her name is Molly, and that nobody likes her very much. I found myself wanting to be her mother, wanting to teach her to be nice, wanting to teach her that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. But but no matter what I said, she seemed convinced that being pouty and mean was the best way.
Why you no buy from muhyy?
Because you're mean and spiteful.
ARRRGHGHHGHUUUUUGHHHHHH. NO FAYUHH. You buy from huh, why you no buy FROM MUHYYY?
Sorry kiddo, life isn't fair.
BUY FROM MEEEEYUHHHH.
Dude, I'm not going to buy anything if you're mean to me. Maybe you should change your tactics. You know, you might try being nicer? I think it would help sales.
I think you should switch to giving massages instead. I think you'd be much better at it than selling bracelets, you know, you could let out some of that pent up aggression.
Okay, okay. If you really want to sell bracelets, you should probably look for other customers though. What about that lady over there?
No, she already buy.
What about that couple over there?
Noooo, the lady Cambodian. Cambodians no buy!
Ahh, so I'm your last holdout, huh?
She settled down a bit at this point, and flopped onto the cushioned reclining chair where I sat. She seemed resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to get anything, and she let her guard down a bit, tuckered out from all the angsty yelling. There she was, just a tired kid, having a bad day, moping in a Charlie Brown sort of way.
Eventually I realized something: why was I trying to show this girl that she must be sweeter and cuter in order to get ahead in life? That's not really something I want to convey. No, it's obviously not good to be mean to people, and it's not a sales practice conducive to success, and I wasn't about to condone the behavior by buying a bracelet…
But I no longer felt she should be any different than she was.
I didn't even want her to go away and leave me alone. I really liked Molly, I realized. She had spunk! And she sure was determined and persistent. And she wasn't very slick. She couldn't really pull off a career in sales, and maybe that was a good thing. She was just a kid after all! And, under her tough, pouty front, was a little girl who could probably use a friend.
If you no buy from muy, I stay here all day, I ask you ALL DAY. I NEBAH LEAVE.
She took up her scowl once more and gave my shoulder a frustrated shove as she threatened me with the burden of her presence. But I just smiled. Good! Hang out with us Molly, you could probably use a day off.
That was yesterday. Today, I meet Molly again, and this time she's cheerful and sweet. "Just had a hard day, yesterday?" I ask. "Yeah" she says, and flops down on my cushioned seat with a smile. When other girls come around offering threading, I decide to get one of them to teach me how to do it. The girl shows me and leaves me to it, but Molly takes the reins instead.
As it turns out, we're both borderline obsessive about hair removal. I feel like I'm watching myself in the mirror as she gets crazy vampire eyes and hones in on my legs until she finds a single, stubbly black trespasser on an otherwise smooth surface. It is The Enemy.
Oh. There it is. THERE'S A HAIR.
No, it's okay, Molly, there are lots of them.
Lemme see, lemme see. I tred it fo you.
Molly, I have to go.
Just a leeeetle more, I so close!
YEAH! Got it!
*laughing* Nice work! I have to go, Molly.
JUST ONE MORE! There's another one!
When it's time to go, I buy a bracelet from Molly. It's made of turquoise wooden beads and it has a larger flower on it, and I call it my "Molly Bracelet". I'm going to miss her, just a little.