I didn’t want to stop for her. I avoided eye contact, walked purposefully (as purposefully as one can walk when leading a 3 year old) and almost passed her. Then she made her move. She stepped one foot forward, held out her clipboard and said, “May I take a few moments of your time?” Uh, no, actually, all my moments are counted and allotted and today I see that I did not schedule any time for “stupid mall survey.” She pursues. “Just a few questions, 7-10 minutes?” I look at the 3 year old, on her way to lunch, after which feeding I, myself, will be grazing with one of my 3 book groups (another story, but chalk it up to my inability to resist.) Fine. 7-10 minutes, but make ‘em snappy.
She begins. “Have you purchased in the last 3 months or do you plan on purchasing a cartoon character t-shirt for either yourself or a child?”
Easy. No. I don’t do cartoon t-shirts.
“In the last 3 months have you purchased liquid fabric softener?”
No. I only use dryer sheets.
“No liquid fabric softener at all?”
No. I repeat. I only use dryer sheets.
“And you haven’t purchased a character t-shirt for anyone in your family?”
Um, so this 7-10 minutes, was it going to consist of just 2 questions, repeated over and over? ‘Cuz I don’t really need to be here for this. I told you no to both questions, so you can continue for the rest of the interview on your own, since I’m not likely to suddenly remember that I do, in fact, use liquid softener instead of dryer sheets. Nor am I likely to be persuaded that Hal really, really needs a Hello Kitty t-shirt.
As I walk away, pleased that I chose to be nice to the mall worker and yet did not, in fact, have to follow her to the tiny cubicles to sniff different products, I hear her say with the same tone my 10 year old uses, and I am not making this up:
“Thanks a lot. Very helpful.”
Excuse me? In a former life, I would have whirled around and told her off. Something like, “Excuse me, Miss Minimum-Wage-and-Lucky-to-Get-It, but who’s your manager and do you have your resume ready?”
Instead, I burned her face into my memory so that every time I walk by her, I can shoot her death glances and wish her black thoughts. I feel better, my child didn’t hear any swear words, and I still made it to book group on time.