Monday, July 21, 2008

Everyone Is Willing to Believe Your Life Is a Sitcom

... Or, A Break From the Cat Posts

I have this strategy I use when confronted with aggressive salesmen who appear to think that my lack of Y chromosome makes me an incompetent purchaser, typically in electronics and appliances, but it also works when car shopping.

"Where are your UberTech IIs?" I ask.

"No, no," says aggressive salesman, "you want the UberTech IV! It has a million more features that you'll never use and only costs three times as much!"

"No, I want the UberTech II."

"Oh, but the UberTech IV comes with a high speed diagnostic Turing engine!"

(Here comes the technique:) "Oh, but my husband told me to buy the UberTech II, he knows just what he wants, and I think he'd be mad if I got something else."

"But the UberTech IV is better, I'm sure he'd like it much better. You could surprise him!"

"No," I say, sounding very concerned and now opening my eyes wide and dumb, "he doesn't like it when I don't buy the right computery thing. He gave me the exact name and specs, and I have to get that."

(Which is all particularly amusing because I do more of the tech management stuff in this household.)

Typically at this point the salesman gives in in frustration and sells me what I've been trying to buy for the last fifteen minutes. But a few times the salesman, sensing that I'm too damned dumb to know he's ripping me off, but frustrated by his inability to sell to me without passing the absent gatekeeper of "the husband," will suggest we CALL my husband to get "permission." At this point I cease to feel bad about messing with them, put on my emptiest possible expression and say, "Oh ... no, I don't think he'd like it if I disturbed him at work."

What kills me every single time is that these jerks are perfectly willing to believe that a) I know nothing about technology and b) I live in a TV marriage from 1950 where I can't buy anything without my husband's permission (and I specify TV marriage because, hello, I know most of your grandmothers kicked ass and took names in the 1950s like mine did; those were never real marriages). I mean, seriously, it's 2008 and the world is still stocked with pre-feminist electronics salesmen who fail to recognize 50% of their market!

(And I hasten to specify, I never do this until the salesman starts his, "well, little lady, this computer comes with a lipstick mirror for you to look your prettiest!" schtick. If he talks to me like a person, we don't need to go to sitcom world.)

My husband was so amused by this technique that he's tried it himself once or twice, only he goes for "henpecked husband sitcom." If he's buying a shirt, say, and gets an aggressive salesperson insisting, "Oh, you really should get that in green, it would look so nice with your eyes" or whatever, he'll say, somewhat conspiratorially, "My wife said I needed a blue shirt, and she gets really picky about the whole thing," in a sort of, "you know how women are!" tone.

Last week I accidentally stumbled on the king of the sitcom scenarios, the one that makes service people come to your house in a timely fashion. I was talking to the window guy, still trying to get this broken window fixed, and I said, somewhat exasperated, "Look, my mother-in-law is coming to visit next Thursday, and I'd really prefer for my window not to be broken when she gets here."

"Mother-in-law?" Window guy says in a suddenly chummy fashion. "I know how that is. I'll squeeze you in special Thursday morning."

Yes, I start thinking to myself, the picky mother-in-law sitcom ... I wonder how many contractors I can call between now and Thursday ...

Because my window having been broken for four months is not remotely an issue worth hurrying for, but, because everyone is totally willing to believe your life is a sitcom, my mother-in-law coming to visit is worth a special trip and they feel like they're doing me a favor!


Josh said...

I used to shop for cars that way. I'd go by myself to look first and tell the sales person that I'm just looking and my wife and I will discuss it and if she doesn't like it, no sale. Worked every time.

(Now I don't have time for this method. I do pretty good buying cars and usually involves the manager do their negotiating.)

Michael said...

Years ago when our twins were born we needed a larger car and my wife went shopping. She found a nice wagon at a dealership and, although interested, continued shopping for price. I get this phone call from the salesman about the car and I tell him my wife is doing the buying, she's not there and I give him a number where she can be reached. Tracey is not happy when she finds this out and that he didn't call her. This happened a couple more times with him trying to deal with "the husband". Then the phone rings, Tracey answers and the guy asks for "the husband". She gave me the phone, I told him to deal with the wife and handed the phone back. She dressed him down pretty good. Guess what ... we didn't buy the car from him?!