We human beings feed on social interaction, however much we think we prefer to live the life of a hermit. That probably explains why today I have finally decided to stop, turn around, and greet the foreign looking salesman whom I always see in this favorite mall of mine when he shouted out loud at my direction, “Hi, can I ask you a question?”. I was alone in the mall, yearning for human interaction. Singapore is saturated with people on the streets, in the malls trying to sell something. The other day, in the same mall, some salespersons eagerly asked me to sign up for a credit card. I looked closer and realized that they represented my bank. So I stopped and gave them a brief team talk to boost their morale. Have you eaten? This late you are still here, you must be the hardworking type! Do you enjoy what you are doing? How many customers sign up for our credit cards a day? Where will your next roadshow be? They must have thought that I was some big shots in the bank. No matter. They felt happy that someone stopped and chatted, unlike 99.99% of the people they hassled.
Back to the story of today, I stopped in front of this organic beauty care store. The friendly salesman is from Israel, has lived in Singapore for six months. And we clicked, like long lost friends. “How old are you?” he asked. “Old,” I gave him the standard answer like I do to all those who are curious about my age. “Let me guess, 40?”
Wow, he was good. My skin is that … bad? Immediately I felt the desperate need to stock up some skin care products. I am still far away from that four-O. Please. As a polite Singaporean, I did not shame our nation by losing my temper. Instead, I smiled, “After 25, I stopped counting”. He paused and answered, “Ah. As for me, I am still counting!”
Great, a young handsome dude who by the way, if I was wearing skirt, I would have gotten head over heels, devouring everything that he offered. Especially when he offered to give me his phone number much later on.
Like a magician, he took out a small white jar and showed me the content. “What do you think this is,” he asked. I took a peep and saw some bright green gel looking stuff. “Erm, no idea. It looks very green,” I replied.
“This … is cucumber,” announced him.
“Really?! That is cucumber?” looking dumbfound I stared at the jar. I truly could not make out the connection. Neither did the vast difference in the shade of green helped.
“Do you know what is a cucumber?” asked him. OK. I really hoped that this was going somewhere. He then asked me to show him my wrist and before I could protest, he applied some of the bright green gel onto my wrist while explaining to me why cucumber was chosen as the magic component. After half a minute, he started to rub my wrist with his thumbs really hard. He then asked, “What do you see?” Quite frankly, I saw lumps of green stuffs on my wrist.
“This is the cucumber going into seven layers of your skin and mine and [it extracts] all the dirt and oil [inside],” said the Israeli salesman.
My skin and yours now in green lumps?! On my wrist? Gross!
He then took out a piece of cotton, removed the green lumps from my wrist, and asked me to compare my right wrist with my left. “Can you see the difference?”
“I see one wrist is greener than the other.” No kidding. Imagine applying that to my face. By the way, that was a no-scrubbing-needed-exfoliatiing-facial-product. He then applied some moisturizer cream onto both of my wrists and asked, “Can you tell the difference?”
To be honest, the wrist with the seven layers of dirt and oil exfoliated absorbed the moisturizer cream much better than the wrist without. My skin looked fairer too. At that moment, I was sold. Even though at the back of my mind, I was not sure how Cynthia would react to I turning into a green Hulk once a week. So I asked, “How much does it cost?”
“One hundred and forty dollars,” he answered. “You see, these are organic products from Australia. No chemical. Do you know how much does an organic melon cost? Forty dollars!”.
ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY BUCKS for that?! And no. I would not wish to eat a forty dollars melon. That moisturizer costs more than a hundred bucks too.
Sensing that I might need some time to digest the three digits figure, he moved onto the next product and asked, “How often do you shower?”
How often do I shower? What sort of question is that?! How often do Singaporeans shower in general?
“Once a month,” I answered.
“Really?!” It was his turn to be dumbfound. Ha!
“How often should I shower?” I queried.
“Once a week?” he joked while showing me a much larger jar full of what appeared as salt.
“Hold you hands over the sink,” he commanded. I hesitated for a bit but my curiosity got the better part of me. He proceeded to spray some water onto my hands and scooped a spoonful of salt onto my hands.
“Now rub your hands like how you wash them after you use the bathroom. You do wash your hands [after you use the bathroom], yes?”
Wow. I began to wonder if it was due to the wrong impression he has on Singaporeans or in Israel, people don’t shower nor wash their hands often.
I rubbed my hands with salt. Gosh, that felt really rough. By the time he washed the salt off my hands, I was shocked by how smooth my skin felt! Like a baby! I really loved the product. The Israeli salesman then applied some body butter onto my hands. Are these really my hands?! Imagine what this salt and butter could do to the entire body. Hundred and one sexual fantasies had immediately flooded my mind.
“When was the last time you wash your hand?” asked he.
Is that a trick question? He then asked me to look into the sink, specifically at the pool of water gathered after he washed the salt off my hands. Yuck! The water was gray in color. Again, sold. I asked for the price and he replied, “The salt is S$140 and the body butter is S$120.” And he was willing to throw in the green gel and the moisturizer for free.
SO MUCH FOR BUTTER AND SALT?! No way.
Soon, the reinforcement arrived. She too is from Israel – I presume – as they were locked into a foreign language that I could not decipher. Again, she asked how often I shower. Hmmm. Did I smell that bad? I tried to explain to them that in no way I could spend hundreds of dollars on some beauty products without getting Cynthia’s buy-in. There are hundred and one ways to say no. Delegation to a higher authority is one. The Israeli saleswoman immediately responded. She asked how many women I have at home. I took a big gulp and answered: officially one? She showed me something that looked like a rubber we use in school and asked me to hold out my fingernail. “Do you know what this is?” asked her. Israelis must be the intellectual bunch. I have not been so mentally challenged by a sales pitch for a long time.
“This is [made of] diamond dust,” said she while rubbing the rubber against my index fingernail in really fast motion. “Organic diamond dust,” added she. Erm. I would have thought diamond is … inorganic?
“Woah! It is getting hot!” gasped I.
“Oops! Is it because of me or this?” she laughed and slowed down the rubbing a bit. When she showed me the result, I was tongue-tied. My index fingernail was smooth and shiny. Very shiny. So shiny that it stood out like a sore thumb next to nine dull looking fingernails. I needed to unshine my fingernail! Now!
To be honest, the process was pretty complex. She had to rub my fingernail with one side of the diamond dusted rubber, and then use another side, and then applied some cream, and then repeat. I looked confused by the process and she said, “See the erection?”
“Erection,” said she as she pointed at the instruction menu printed on the box. “Oh, direction,” I said with a big relief. Israelis have an interesting accent.
The whole idea of the fingernail polishing demonstration was that I could spend hundreds of dollars on salt and butter (for me) and have the fingernail polishing pack free as a gift to Cynthia. I must say that it was one brilliant piece of marketing strategy. Throughout the half an hour interaction, I tried my very best to will one of my friends to ring my wireless phone so that I could step aside to take the call and then disappear into the crowd. That did not happen. After a tussle that lasted for more than half and hour, I did not buy anything from them. I was hungry and I bought some food to eat instead.