Posts tagged with “Sales Talk”

That thing of the Pharisee

Sunday, 22 February, 2015

I should have known it could not end well.

Picture this, nuh. I’m walking through a shopping centre, minding my own business. I reckon I have become rather good in dodging these sales people that spring a surprise on you and try to sell stuff to you that both you and them know you neither need nor want. I’m always embarrassed to try a new biscuit or whatever and to then nót buy it. So I do the thing of the Pharisee in the biblical parable of old and pass the other way.

So how this girl got it right, I do not know. But the next thing I know, this very beautiful girl had me by the arm and steered (more like pulling, I’d say) me to her open kiosk in the middle of the broad passage of the shopping centre.

At first I was totally flabbergasted by the strange sounds the girl made. After a while I started catching up on the accent. She was actually speaking a good English, it is only the accent that took me a while to realise it is actually English.

“I show you someteeng?” she explained. With the third attempt I understood. Strange, how quickly your ear can adjust. She then grabbed me by the hand.

“You see da lines on yourrrr nail? Everrrrybody has them.”

No sh*t, Sherlock, huh? I thought she was going to read the lines on my hand and tell me my fortune. Not so. The next thing she grabs this funny little brush and starts polishing / massaging / brushing my nail. When she was done, I had this very shiny thumb nail. She pulled my hand to her and pressed it between her breasts.

“Now notting weel take thees off,” she said with conviction. Well, I would hope so.

The next moment she holds something under my nose. Obviously she was now going to give me chloroform and abduct me and have her way with me. So I took a deep breath.

“Thees ees ceutex, ok?” she explained.

She grabbed my thumb again – well, actually for the duration of this whole exercised she never once let go of her grip on my arm. She was making sure I do not escape before she concluded her sales pitch. Another sniff from the cutex and my sinuses were as clear as it had not been in months. She attacked my shiny thumb nail with the cutex, but the shine remains.

Only now did I understand what she meant with “notting weel take thees off.” It was the shine that would remain, not her …… aaah, never mind.

OK, I understand now. And your point is? I wondered, but did not dare to ask.

“You know what happens thees month?”

Aha, trick question. I ran a few possibilities through my memory. School already started, holiday has come and gone, no rugby match to speak of, maybe an eclipse of the sun, I tried.

“No, eet ees Valentines day.”

O, shucks, good thing you remind me. I totally forgot. Oh, but hang on, it is also my wife’s birthday, I remember.

“That is good,” she swooned. She sells just the stuff that my wife would want. “And your daughter,” said she. “Do you have a daughterrrr?”

I hate it when people ask these personal questions. I always suspect a phishing scam in progress. Yet, I find myself mumbling a feeble “yes”.

“And how old ees shee?”

That is none of your business, I thought, but nevertheless find myself parting with this information too.

“Now see, because you arrrr my firrrst customerrr forrr today, I make you a verrrry special deal.”

So there is the lesson. One should not go shopping this early. It is the early worm that gets caught. But now just because (a) I am her first customer, and (b) she is very nice, she will now offer me two of these nail sets for the price of one. However, by now I got wind of the price she had in mind. And for that price I could fit a new tyre on my car.

“Arrrr you frrrrom Cape Town?” she asked.

Aha, an opportunity to change the subject and escape from this sales pitch routine. Yes I and, and where are you from?

“I’m frrrrom Isrrrrael,” she said.

But she does not let go of me. I meekly explain that the price she is talking about is what a tyre would cost me, and that both our washing machine and the tumble dryer have reached the end of their life cycles.

“Oh, but come looook, I show you someteeng.” She dragged me around her computer so that I could see the screen – and the menacing price of the product. Ke-tiek-etiek-etiek, she attacked the keyboard, and wala! The price suddenly halved. How cool is that, huh?

“How doo youu like that?”

Well, it’s still the price of half a tyre, but if that is what it would cost to allow me to escape from her grip with dignity, it suddenly became palatable.

Ok, so I left home to buy chlorine for the pool. I return home with a little thingy that does something to ladies’ nails, and no chlorine.

The lady did mention something about a lifelong warranty on some of the products, but that part was told when she once again had my hand firmly between her breasts, so was not quite sure what she was referring to.

But on the bright side, I had something for my wife for her birthday.

“Oh, you got bamboozled by that girl in the shopping centre,” my wife exclaimed when she opened it.

Now I ask you, what on earth gave her that idea.…

Part 3 – Vic Falls and Livingstone

Friday, 2 July, 2010

[Also in Afrikaans @]



(by PG Jonker)

Vic Falls

The Smoke that Thunders.  Indeed.  No picture that I have seen of the Victoria Falls could prepare me for this majestic sight.   It simply defies description.  I will not even endeavour to do so.  I simply do not have the linguistic skills to do justice to this.


The rented poncho’s and jiffy bags to keep cameras dry are essentials for this outing. 


Also, if you have a six-year old with you, the thunder that the name alludes to will probably scare the living daylights out of him.  I had to hightale it from under the mist and thunder with Chris-Jan, my six year old, as it left him panic stricken. 


Sales Talk

The Victoria Falls in itself is something really awesome.  No, majestic, even sacred.  No picture can really prepare you for this sight.  I would assume that professional writers would be able to put in words what I’m trying to say, but I’m afraid the above is as good as I can get.

So it’s somewhat easier to rather relate some of the more mundane side shows that I have experienced.  Well, it felt more like I have fallen victim to one of these mundane sideshows, so let me enlighten you about, and warn you against, the extreme sales acumen of some of the locals at Vic Falls.

At the entrance to the falls you find the usual craft market where you can buy stuff that you do not want.  So I decided to go on a little reconnoitre of my own to see what there is with the idea to take my kids there later.  I want to be forewarned of what there is to be found, hence the prior recce.

Big mistake.  Now take heed of good advice.  Do not come near that place.  Do not make eye contact with any of the vendors.  Do not appear to show any interest.  Do not enter the vendor’s stall.  And above all, do not allow the guy to sit you down for a chat!

Isaac explains very nicely to me all his wares on display.  So I explain to Isaac that I’m just looking.  So Isaac then explains to me: “I’m from Zambia, you from South Africa, we’re from the same continent, I give you a good deal.” So I explain again to Isaac I’m not buying, I don’t want a good or a bad deal, I want no deal at all.  Isaac says he understands completely, but just look, here we have the king and the queen of some or other tribe, carved from wood, he proceeds without missing a beat.  Very exotic.  Yes, I understand, but I don’t want to buy anything.  Now because we are from the same continent, Isaac proceeds unfazed, he will give me this very special deal of US$50 for this very cool set of two sculptures.  So very patiently I explain again that I’m just looking, I’ll be back later.  Then Isaac introduces me not only to the king and queen, but also to the son and daughter of said king and queen, carved from this very special wood that you only find in Zambia.

Now there comes a time when one has to admit defeat.  It was now inescapably clear to me that Isaac does not understand what I’m telling him, so I decide it’s time to leave, rather than to be rude.  From a semi-squatting position I try to extract myself from Isaac’s stall, to which Isaac props up one of his little stools underneath me.  I’m not quite sure how this happened, but the next thing I’m sitting instead of leaving, with Isaac facing me on a similar stool.

Now that’s much better, reckons Isaac.  This is our custom to negotiate like this, he explains, and proceeds to introduce me to the rest of the king and queen’s extended family.  By now I am getting seriously concerned.  I mean, this king and queen are breeding as we speak, and there seems to be no end in sight!  I better get out of here.

But Isaac is now getting in the swing of things, explaining to me the rules of the game.  See, he made an opening offer of a mere US$50 for this set of sculptures, but because we are mos now from the same continent he is open for negotiations.  I mean, it’s like Isaac and me are blood brothers, so close we are since we are from the same continent. Oh, and as a special gift he will also wrap this set up nicely for me in last week’s newspaper, all because we are from the same continent.  All I need to do, is to come with a counter offer, says Isaac.  I can trade with money, t-shirts, shoes, anything, he says.  “You just offer me anything, anything, then we negotiate.”  

By this time I am more inclined to tell Isaac that he must be out of his mind if he thinks I’m going to pay him close on R400 for these two stupid sculptures!  But I explain very politely that I do not want to offend him, but I thought more along the lines of US$2 for these two sculptures.  Well, actually I thought I want nothing at all, but I have now given up on explaining that to Isaac.  I can see he does not quite understand that part of my explanation.  In any event, the fact that he is willing to trade in old shoes or a t-shirt just to make the sale also leaves me with a feeling that I cannot buy nothing from him.  There is desperateness (not desperation) in making this sale, but without an attitude of self pity.  To the contrary.  If anything, I was the one with the jannie-jammergat attitude, not Isaac.

Anyway, in the end I pay Isaac US$10 and a Coke for the king and queen of wooden Toyland. Hau, that Isaac, he is very good!

And then, when I presented these very special gifts with all my love to my wife, she accused me of having been bamboozled by Isaac.  Whereas I thought I did rather well.

The rest of Livingstone

 The well stocked Spar could …