Street Bazaar or Mall Walkway?

Not since stepping off a cruise ship in the Bahamas have I been as accosted as I am walking through the malls these days.

Salespeople are posted at every kiosk: “Can I ask you a question?…Do you use a flatiron?…Like to try a lotion?”

As a generally friendly (i.e., southern) person, my natural instinct is to smile, nod, and say, “no thankyou” in an apologetic tone. But that doesn’t always work, as there’s often a follow-up plea along the lines of how it will only take a minute, it’s a free sample, on and on. Don’t they know this is a retail environment? I am conditioned to rely on a system of price tags and signs to lure me, not the ambush of a carnival barker.

Sounds Scrooge-y, but it is a mental battle of wills to power through the mall during the holidays. It takes all my powers of concentration to focus on my original shopping mission (gifts for other people, not all that cute stuff in just my size…) along with follow-up plans for wrapping and hiding it away. This is no time to be distracted by hawkers selling sketchy stuff that I wouldn’t consider buying unless I literally stumbled upon it.

The kiosk workers keep things lively and it’s fun to see this year’s flying device demonstrated (remote controlled helicopter? styrofoam boomerang? levitating mylar disk?). But for all the merchants selling salt scrubs, hair appliances, and wigs, know that I make it a personal policy not to groom in the middle of the mall. Heck, it’s bad enough seeing someone I know when I’m stuck in the shampoo bowl at the beauty salon.

Sorry, kiosk people. Maybe I’ll be in a better mood after Christmas, when I have to pass your booth again as I make exchanges.

Not likely, though.