Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I was strolling in the mall the other day. I was in a good mood. In all probability, I was even gently humming a happy song while I was checking out the merchandise that I have no intention of buying. So, I step out of the shoe outlet and right opposite was this cherubic young girl standing outside a fancy frozen yogurt/smoothie store. She seems to be an employee of the store as she stood there with a tray of samples. I thought she was kind of cute or whatever and as I happened to glance at her, our eyes met. And she broke into a sweet smile and said:
"Sir, Would you like to try a sample <of the frozen yogurt>? "
My biology normally resists these kind of complex social interactions but my good mood was just too much to contain itself. "SURE. WHY NOT ?" said I enthusiastically as if frozen yogurt was the exactly the thing on my mind which is unusual because I care about frozen yogurt in my bachelor singleton existence even lesser than baby diapers.
She asks, "So … Which one would you like to try ?"
I looked into the tray she was holding and noticed that there were tiny 5-6 cups with flavors composed of colors that never can occur in nature. Of course, I wasn't surprised. It was after all a frozen yogurt made from naturally occurring artificial flavors or artificially occurring natural flavors - whatever it is that they do. Trust me, with these kind of foods, the lesser you know about their ingredients, the better you tend to enjoy them. Unable to identify the flavors and afraid to even guess the colors, I enquired what flavors were those.
She started going one-by-one over them : "This is Sonoma strawberry … This is Sugarcane Cola. Umm … This is Honey badger. This one is Madagascar vanilla and the last one is Caribbean coconut". I ask for the Caribbean Coconut. I liked the alliteration on that. CAR-RRI-BEAN-COCO-NUT. It's got a nice ring and rhythm to it. Isn't it? Anyway, I gorge that little fella that she handed over. It was not bad, I must say. I kind of liked it too.
As I was about to say "Thank you" and walk away. She says, "Hey ... you should try this Madagascar Vanilla. That's my favorite. Would you like to ?" Now, what could I do? It would be too rude and uptight to reject this seemingly harmless offer. I gulp down that sample as well. In these kind of situations, most of us would simply be non-confrontational and compliment her choice. I tried to do the same too. But, as soon as I said, "hmmm ... that's very tasty. Thanks … Have a nice day ", She continues to look me in the eye and rapidly utters, "Would you like to come in and get some frozen yogurt ? There are many more flavors."
There I was, trying to muster up the courage to say no and walk away. After all, it's winter time. Who eats frozen yogurt in winter, for god's sakes. I was damn sure I didn't want the frozen yogurt. But there she was, one could clearly see it in her expression on her face which is an alluring mix of Bambi meets Bugs Bunny, a look that seemed to coyly suggest "Look at you. You are going to go away. Aren't you? You mooched down two free samples of our yogurt. Now, you are going to ungratefully walk away. Get lost, you". Now, my mind was being tossed between the rationality of an unnecessary purchase and the guilt of disappointing her. Dark clouds of confusion soon began to gather in my racing mind. To buy or not to buy. I had to make a decision. After all, I couldn't stand there for ever deliberating the purchase. I knew I was being manipulated. This is called "consumer guilt marketing". They put you in this position of guilt and you, being a nice person who doesn't like to hurt another, get out of the situation by swiping your credit-card. I read all about it. But, what's the use? Caught in this compelling situation of having to spurt out a response within 3 seconds, I finally compromise. I give in. The guilt got better of me. Eventually, I say to her, "Fine ... I guess I can have some of that Caribbean Coconut". I was now imagining how there must be a jubilation akin to celebrating a sporting result by the Satan and his friends residing in some advertising hell who were keenly watching this whole episode.
Five minutes later, with 5 degrees Celsius outside, I am standing with a 600 calorie cup of frozen Caribbean coconut yogurt like a moron thinking how this kind of obligated shopping is worse than impulse shopping. At least, when you impulse shop, you personally want that stuff. You may not have thought through completely what were you going to do, at an age of 28, with a complete hot-wheels car toy collection of all the porches released since 1924, but your mind owned that feeling and made you buy it. But … but this yogurt thing? I never even wanted it - I just bought it out of a meaningless, helpless human need to not hurt the other person. I was truly, deeply mad at myself.
Naturally, my good mood ended instantaneously. WHY ... WHY ... WHY DOES SHE HAVE TO BE THAT GOOD AT HER JOB ? She must be like a high-school student working at minimum age for some pocket money? Tops ... Tops ... what she earns will cover her lip-stick / hair-color costs. Why care so much about doing it well ? More over, that yogurt place is a national chain. It's not even like it's her dad's store and she is helping her family. She is just an employee at a national frozen yogurt franchise. You know how these corporate people are. The managers will first fire her the moment they feel they have to cut corners. Why do you have to be take this kind of job seriously? Huh? These stores are quite impersonal and they pay you for simply showing up. Why dupe innocent people out of loyalty to a corporation ? A CORPORATION !!! WHY ... WHY ... WHY ...
Don't you wonder how easily just about anything can ruin a good mood ?

2 comments :

Twilight Musings said...

Cost: Price of yogurt
Gain: Yogurt + free samples + interaction with cute young girl.
Verdict: Score!

Why are you ruining it by adding 'guilt' to the Cost?

Add more happiness about how cute, charming and effective the girl was, and increase the Gain side.

Sash! said...

hehe ... i see what you are doing, i see what you are doing - trying to sugar-coat the situation using some fancy math :)

To be honest, there is a deliberately heightened sense of expression in my writing. I didn't feel "that bad" too. Besides, the yogurt wasn't bad at all.

And the girl, yes, she was so so effective. She totally deserved to win this contest :)

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