The patronising salesman
This morning I was in a showroom that sells stone flooring tiles. I need to get our front path repaved as, after eight years of Gulf summers, the current tiles have given up the ghost. DH, quite rightly, has washed his hands of the whole job. At this stage of our marriage, he works and I run the house (or, as he prefers to put it, “I make the money and you spend it”).
It seemed, though, that I’d chosen one of the most expensive stone in the showroom. And for some reason, the salesman didn’t like that one bit.
“We have cheap Omani marble here,” he said, kicking a slab of dull, white stone I wouldn’t put under our rubbish bin. “Use that – a quarter the price.”
“But I really like the other one,” I said. “How much will 15 square metres come to?” But still he wouldn’t level with me.
“It’s different depending on whether you get pre-cut tiles, or you have the stone cut to order,” he said.
“So tell me the options,” I said, pencil poised to make notes. “What sizes do the tiles come in?”
“Madam,” he said, sighing, and I realised we were finally getting to the crux of the matter. “You get budget approval from boss at home for before I talk to you about prices. If husband approves AED 6,000, you come back and we talk sizes and costs.”
What a contrast it was to the greasy garage I’d been in half an hour before. As part of my morning’s work as housewife, DH had asked me to get two new tyres put on his car. I was kind of expecting patronising and/or sexist behaviour from the grease monkeys, as is often the case when assertive white women stride in demanding high-performance Pirellis – but those men couldn’t have been nicer.
As all four of them lined up to wave me off, one said ever so nicely, “Thank you for first-time visit our workshop, madam.”
Another said, “We have nice coffee-tea machine. You tried coffee-tea?”
“Yes, I tried, thank you,” I said. “Very nice coffee.”
“Come again soon,” said a third. “Any time wheel-balancing – always good job for madam.”
Now that’s more like it.
Edited to add: I eventually got my paving stones from this salesman. He quoted me AED 400 per square metre. I didn’t trust him. I sent the contractor down to buy it – and he got the same stone from the same guy for AED 275 per square metre. O_O