Back in the Big Band era when I started reading the comic strip Cathy, I decided early on that the most irritating character, apart from boyfriend (now spouse) Irving, was that know-it-all salesperson at the department store whose advice always fell somewhere on the curve between questionable and downright lethal. I comforted myself, though, with the notion that this was the clever manipulation of a stereotype, and no such person truly existed.
One thing I hate about shopping in public is that there are people around. Like salespeople. But at least they leave you alone when you tell them, “No thanks.” Then there are the other shoppers. Sure, there are the crazy people who get in your way, but they’re nowhere near as annoying as those shoppers who think the store is a social free-for-all. Take, for instance, the lady who kept following me around, giving me unsolicited advice when all I wanted was to get a pair of jeans to replace the worn out ones that I do have.
I’ve been known to talk to shoppers, but I avoid giving advice unless it’s empirically verifiable (e.g. $5 for 9 ounces is, in fact, $8.89 a pound). I do not, however, sink to these depths:
If an expert decides to tell me how to best run an experiment or some random person tells me how to eat some food without it getting on my shirt, that’s terrific. But pants with elastic waistbands? Please. I might be the untrendiest twenty-something in the pacific northwest, but there is no way in hell I’m taking fashion advice from a middle-aged, frumpy hausfrau in a tracksuit.
Most of the untrendy twentysomethings I know look just fine in jeans not that they’d want to hear that from me.