I wanted to write this letter to you for a long time. I am suffering from a chronic disease since last several years. Whenever I accompany my wife or my mother for their shopping, I get continuous yawning. All the sweet conversations of the sales people do not amuse me. Rather I get irritated.
I get to escape from this ordeal very often by giving the excuse of some important engagements. But I do get trapped sometimes. One such occasion is when we go for any outstation tour where I am under my wife’s exclusive captivity. Another occasion is when we decide to go for a movie or a coffee-chat when she suddenly changes her plan and enters a shop seeing the big posters mentioning ‘40%, 60% 90% off’ etc. These days I have put a full stop to my sermons on the psychology and the economics of discounts as I could never convince my wife on that. She always got a better deal for the best quality.
My mother lost her faith in my ‘purchasing power’ as early as during my teenage years. She used to throw the rotten vegetables and stale fish that I bought from the market. I am sure she has briefed my wife about my shopping skills.
Whenever I accompany the ladies of my house who enter any shop, the first thing I look for is a comfortable chair. I get severe pain in my legs within a few minutes of entering. But these days, most shop owners do not keep any seats for the customers or their escorts. I don’t know why; may be they want to save the space. (I understand that every square centimeter is worth several lakhs in cities. I read recently that someone has purchased a site for Rs 65000 per square foot in Bangalore city.) Or the shop owners might have thought that if seats are provided, the customers will take more time to decide on the purchase. I wonder why they won’t provide seats at least for the sales staff who stand for more than 12 hours!
One day, I got very annoyed and felt insulted while I was shopping with my wife at a shop in Lajpat Nagar, on a very hot summer day. I found a small stool (the only place to sit) in the small shop which contained highly priced dress material. I sat on it comfortably with a stream of air from the blower of the cooler and continued my yawning. Within a few minutes, the sales boy came to me and asked me to get up. I thought he is going to seat me on a better chair. I got up and waited. The boy quietly took the stool and put it under the table of the owner and continued his activities, like, fetching water for the owner and arranging the stock etc. I didn’t know the reason; whether he didn’t like me enjoying the seat near the cooler or he found my wife’s hard bargaining unbearable? I convinced my wife to get out of that ‘petty’ shop which does not give even a seat to the customer. My wife reluctantly followed me, though she muttered that the vendor had some rare piece of clothing!
I can pick up a shirt or a trouser in a couple of minutes. But my mother and my wife can spend an entire day before finalizing a sari. I sympathize with all those sales girls who have to take out almost every sari from the shelves before they finally give their green signal. Even after selecting, there is a risk till they make the payment at the cash counter. They can change their mind anytime to look for a better one. I do not have any say in either selection or payment as both of them are independent decision makers and income earners. Many times I found at the billing desk that she has replaced my choice of shirts with hers. But let me admit that her selection was better than mine (My wife would be reading this post!) My job is to carry the big polythene bags to the car.
Sorry Doctor! I got deviated from the problem as I wrote this, sitting on a chair in a shop, yawning all the while. And I must stop this here as I can see someone coming to take off my chair.
Views are personal © Sibichen K Mathew