Unwarranted Assumptions

I stopped by the mall today, mostly because I needed to kill time and didn't have any better ideas. While I was there, I was accosted by one of the people manning a stall in the center of the hallway. I do sort of mind that, because I always have such a hard time saying no when someone's aggressively trying to get me to buy something - or at least, say no in a final enough way to get them to listen to me.

(And yes, the idea that I can say no and not be listened to is part of a much larger problem. It's one that this post isn't really going to get into.)

Interestingly enough, this particular stall was selling, effectively, makeup. That's probably not the best word for it; the stuff that he was trying to sell to me was designed to make one's fingernails look better, and was comprised of several things including lotion and... I guess something kind of like a fingernail file? I wasn't exactly paying too much attention, since I was trying to find a way to extricate myself from the sales pitch without just flat-out saying "go away". Either way, though, damn if it didn't actually work. I have one very shiny fingernail now!

And yet, even though the guy went through the effort to use my fingernail as a demonstration, even when his own fingers provided ten more examples of the stuff he was trying to sell me... he wasn't really trying to sell this stuff to me.

The conversation began with him asking if I am married. Then if I had a girlfriend. Both get answers in the negative. He pointed out that Valentine's Day was coming up. When he showed me the results of his little buffing tool, he asked me if I thought my mother would like that effect. When I wasn't inclined to buy the full set of products he was selling (even after three or four discounts on the price) he started asking which one I thought my mother would use.

Through the entire conversation, he simply assumed that I had no desire to buy this thing, and that he would have to sell it to a family member or friend of mine by proxy through me.

This is not an unusual incident or a coincidence. While it's the first time that I've seen an obvious example in my life, this happens all the time (more often to women trying to buy something that isn't feminine enough, I would guess), and it's one of the more irritating displays of gender stereotypes in society.

If I express interest in your product, unless I specifically mention buying it as a gift, you damn well better believe that I'm buying it because I want it. And if you're coming after me to sell me something? Before you try to convince me to buy your product, you should probably convince yourself that I want to buy said product first.

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