I hate to age myself, but I was totally “Pretty-Woman-ed” recently. Meaning, I walked into a very fancy boutique jewelry store last week – a store I had never been in, though have passed by it many, many times – in hopes to get something engraved quickly.
I was met with a salesperson, who looked me up and down – TWICE – as if I were a bag of trash that a raccoon had ripped open, instead of a customer and, more importantly, a person…with feelings.
It was so f***ing obvious, by her turned up nose and sneer, that she thought that I didn’t belong in the store, based on what I was wearing, So what was I wearing that had made it super clear this salesperson was so not “into me” as a potential customer? Since I had just dropped off my daughter at school, where I don’t have to get out of the car, and was working at home that day, I was wearing a pair of baggy sweatpants, a pair of 3 year-old very stained Uggs, an old winter hat to cover my unbrushed morning hair, and a puffy purple jacket.
Frankly, this salesperson should consider herself lucky the mommy wasn’t in her bathrobe.
But I was completely shocked and caught off guard because I believed that since it’s 2019, most people – especially those in the retail or service industry – know that you can never judge a book by its cover. Or a customer by what they’re wearing. I’m 100 percent certain, by her snotty look and from the way she was eyeballing my outfit she was basically saying, “Nope! Not for you. This store is better than you. I’m better than you!”
The store, itself, is very classy. You need to be buzzed twice to get in. But this salesperson had zero class in terms of politeness and simple kindness. And then it got worse! I brought in a gift-wrapped bracelet to have engraved and I had the audacity to ask if she could wrap up all fancy again afterwards because I’m definitely challenged when it comes to tying pretty bows on presents.
“You just insulted me!” she huffed. “I’m a jeweller! I’m getting someone else to help you.” Then she stormed off. I was shocked! I would have walked out right there and then, but I really needed this bracelet engraved quickly. The other salesperson – the one the snotty one sent my way – was entirely helpful, super kind, and even said he would ask for this engraving to be expedited. But I was still in shock at how I was “Pretty-Woman-ed” by the first saleswoman, especially how she made it so obvious.
I was just getting something engraved. But does that mean I should be treated differently than a customer who was buying something much more expensive?
Doesn’t everyone know that some of the wealthiest people in the world, for example, stick to plain back turtlenecks and jeans, like Steve Jobs? Mark Zuckerberg, too, always wears a grey t-shirt and jeans. Bill Gates doesn’t seem to spend much money on clothing. Elon Musk is usually photographed in a simple plain tee and jeans. It’s not a well-known secret anymore, I thought, that billionaires seem to put very little thought into making you think they’re rich, at least when it comes to what they wear. As the joke, (but truth) goes; “Only the rich can afford to dress like they’re poor.”
In any case, for those too young to get the reference to the the movie, Pretty Woman, or for those who need a refresher, the movie was released in 1990, and is a romantic comedy, featuring a down-on-her-luck sex worker, named Vivian (Julia Roberts) who is hired by a wealthy businessman, Edward (Richard Gere) to be his escort and how their relationship progresses over the course of her week-long stay with him, going along on business outings and social parties.
According to this site, Pretty Woman’s “biggest contribution to pop culture” (and now to me!) is a scene where Vivian (Julia Roberts) goes into a Rodeo Drive boutique to shame the snooty salesgirls who refused to wait on her just the day before, when she walked in looking like, well, a prostitute. After a call is made, by Edward, she spends the next day shopping with her wealthy lover’s credit card. And then the unforgettable scene happens…
This site describes it like this: “For the first time in her life, she has been treated like a queen. She struts down Rodeo Drive in a stately and demure white dress…Then she spots the store, where just the day before, a pair of snide sales women shamed her for trying to shop while wearing her ‘slutty’ streetwalker garb. Once she has been giving a social status upgrade (through Edward’s money), she returns to the shop to shove the saleswomen’s cruelty in their face. She even adds insult to injury by bringing up the fact that their livelihood is dependent upon commission. Meaning, if they had stopped to help her, she could have given them the money they need to continue in their glamorous trappings.”
“It’s a glorious moment that plays into all sorts of class fantasies that plague any woman who has ever found herself scorned because of her perceived social position.” And that’s how I felt! Totally scorned…mostly because I didn’t want to get out of my UGGs.
In Pretty Woman, when Vivian finds the saleslady who had been extremely rude and hurtful to her, the following exchange occurs:
Shop assistant: “Hello, can I help you?”
Vivian: “I was in here yesterday, you wouldn’t wait on me.”
Shop assistant: “Oh.”
Vivian: “You people work on commission, right?”
Shop assistant: “Yeah.”
Vivian: “Big mistake. Big. Huge!”
She leaves with bags and bags of clothes from other stores, leaving the saleswomen with their mouths agape. She got her revenge, that’s for sure. And the salesladies got what they deserved.
According to the article, “The scene has nothing to do with what a “Cinderella story” like Pretty Woman is supposed to be about. It’s not about true love, it’s not about kindness, and it’s not about goodness. It’s about class.”
Speaking of being classy…Boy did I have my own real-life fantasies of screaming at this saleswoman. Admittedly, and definitely immaturely, I fantasized taking off my jacket so she could see the watch on my wrist, the diamond necklace around my neck, and drop my car keys, on the table in front of her, so she knew what type of car I owned. So, yes, I will be candid here. This is not to say whether I’m rich or poor or somewhere in the middle, but I was plagued by anger at her scorn for me, especially because she had no idea that I could afford the jewelry in the store if I wanted to, and she could have had a returning customer. (I truly do not say this to brag. Believe me. I say it because, as I said earlier, never judge a book by its mismatched clothes and stained winter boots.)
It’s a week later, now, and I still can’t find it in myself to call out this store publicly. I’ve heard the owners are super nice when I tell my friends about my “Pretty Woman” experience. Others have also said they’ve dealt with this salesperson and experienced the same sort of snottiness, yet they still go back. Sure they store has beautiful pieces, but why would anyone, after being treated like that, even want to go back? Yet, they do. I don’t get it.
Plus, if we’re talking about class, it wouldn’t make me a classier human to be mean by calling someone’s business out, because of one super snotty idiot saleswoman. Then I would also be a rude person, and, really, no matter how awful she acted towards me, it doesn’t really make me feel better to bring someone else down. That’s not classy either.
I really enjoyed this article by an interior designer called, “Open Letter to Designers in Retail: Get Off Your High Horse.” The writer shares a story of one of her clients: “I shopped with a lawyer once who spent $20,000 in furniture one afternoon in a pair of sweatpants and a Disney world t-shirt. I am fairly certain that if I weren’t with her, she wouldn’t have gotten the attention other well-heeled shoppers would have.” And she’s even been “Pretty-Womened” herself too. After another retail-delivery-story-gone-wrong, this writer did call the salesperson out for treating her as if she was inferior. She writes, “Then I saw her turn to a store associate and ROLL HER EYES. I literally watched her ROLL HER EYES.”
So, yes, I was “Pretty-Woman-ed.” And while I may never call them out, do you really believe I’d ever step foot in that jewelry store (maybe in my Uggs!) again? Let me be clear. Never. I’ll even get that engraved on my forehead. Which is too bad…for them. They had some really nice stuff after all.
Have you ever be pretty-woman-ed? Do share!
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