Monday, October 6, 2008

The Gathering of Israel: True Stories of Southtown Mall

I can explain. No, actually I don't think I can.

I didn't intend to come away with anything other than a white shirt for church and maybe some shoes if I could find ones I liked. As we could have guessed, "maybe some shoes if I could find ones I liked" clearly meant "and DEFINITELY some shoes." But I had no intention of investing in anything herbal.

I had a gift card for Macy's which is the reason I went to Southtown mall in the first place on my way from So Jo to Lindon after watching Krisanda's kids for a little bit (another hilarious experience that I don't have time to detail now). The first odd thing that happened in the mall was when the rude employee told me I couldn't try on any of the white shirts unless I was going to buy them because he didn't want to have to put all the pins back in. I told him that I like to try things on to see if I want to buy them and asked why anyone would want to try something on only if they knew they were going to buy it anyway--well he finally reluctantly allowed me too. Of course, because I'm the easiest customer in the entire world, I not only bought the shirt despite the poor customer service but I also bought some really awesome shoes from him.

Then things got bad. I started walking around the mall because I had some time to kill (I have the week off of school by the way for those of you who were wondering what the heck I'm doing shopping at 2:00 in the afternoon on a Monday, 30 minutes from Provo). I should NEVER just start walking around a mall as it ALWAYS gets me into serious trouble.

Just as I was about to leave, I was stopped by one of those kiosks which I'm usually really good at avoiding; this one sort of just snuck up on me. A young girl with a strong accent that sounded familiar but not enough to place, proceeded to give me a very looooooong presentation of an entire series of herbal products and how each one was about to save me, heal me forever, and prolong my life 60 years (which means I may live to see 90). She started by throwing a 30 pound scalding hot harness over my neck while telling me something about toxins. I wasn't convinced as I don't really believe in all the herbal remedies that some people swear by, usually refusing to trust anything weaker than a double dosage of Lortab downed by NyQuil; but I stayed and listened to be polite having absolutely NO intention of buying so much as a paperclip (which I would have been more interested in than this garbage, if they were selling any).

After a few thousand packs and oils were firmly placed up my nose and on every other part of my body, this girl pulled out the lavender eye sleep masks and put them over my eyes. Knowing very well that I looked like a complete idiot standing there in the middle of the mall, while this girl used some kind of rollers on my back "to release the negative energy" I started wondering how the heck I was going to get out of there. Then this girl leaned in close, my eyes still covered, and whispered very suspiciously, "do you like surprises?" I quickly told her that I did NOT like surprises and not to do whatever it was she wanted to surprise me with. She told me to relax and before I knew it, she had placed one of those spindly wire contraptions on my head that vibrates, leaving a complete stupor of thought, for which I blame the outcome of the ordeal.

She finally started the sales pitch after I took a giant whiff of every herb in existence, some of which I was sure were nothing more than 99 cent car fresheners purchased at the local Walmart. She offered the entire package (one that looked sort of like the picture only much smaller) for only $300.00 or some absurd price. I told her I was not interested but would be happy to tell my mom about it so she could come and check it out later (not that she would). Then the bargaining began. Before I knew it, the manager had come over and we started bargaining prices until I talked him down to $80.00 after he told me things like "I do this because you're my friend. I'm happy if you're happy." Finally I asked him where he was from and he informed me that they were all from Israel, which explained why the whole situation felt so familiar, and explained why I seemed to have a natural instinct to argue prices with them for something that I didn't even want.

After starting to walk away a few times but coming back because I'm a little out of practice, leaving me rather vulnerable to their attacks, the manager asked me to choose one thing there that made me happy. I chose the lavender face masks which he then offered me for $30.00. In the end, he offered me one for $19, and then another one as a gift because "you are my new friend and I want to gift you." Before I knew it, I was the proud(?) owner of two new lavender face masks. I walked away thinking that I got a steal of a deal until I realized that it's not really a bargain if you buy something that you don't even really want. Then I realized that I sort of just bought the stuff because I had naturally reverted back to searching for souvenirs, which I definitely don't need from Southtown mall.

FYI, you can negotiate prices at local malls.

Maybe this stuff will finally heal my foot disease which we mistakenly thought was permanently healed at the Dead Sea.


  1. That is hillarious. At least your Christmas shopping is done! :-)

  2. Oh, Eli! Standard procedure for mall kiosks are always to NEVER MAKE EYE CONTACT. In the future, I think you'll find averting your eyes works wonders.

  3. Eli, the first thing I remembered about you was when we were little and we went to Tiajuana and you were handing out all of your money to all of the poor little kids trying to sell chicklet gum while everyone else was just passing them by.
    Well, even though this was stuff you didn't want, at least you made a "friend for life".

  4. i can't believe you told her you don't like surprises...

  5. Eli, I love it. One time while in University Mall, I suddenly found myself in front of a kiosk with an Isreali man rubbing some Dead Sea salt mixture all over my hands. Needless to say I didn't buy any as my hands immediately began to swell and turn a rosie, blochy red. After walking away, besides the stinging of my now raw skin, all I could think about was how the heck I got myself there in the first place. In other words, I can relate.

    P.S. Love your blog.

  6. Thanks for the compliments :) I have had an additional year of culinary school since last fakesgiving, so maybe that made the difference... I'm pretty sure the potatoes were even creamier than before too. Anyway, when IS fakesmas? I really want to celebrate...

    Anyway, great post! I'm so sorry that happened to you... it reminds me of one time when Becky and Heather were at the mall-- some accented lady practically tackled Becky and then proceeded to flat-iron her hair, all the while insulting her by saying things like "Your hair will never have to be so frizzy again". Hahaha...luckily Beck didn't buy it. Well, I hope you enjoy those lavender face masks... for the record, lavender really does help you sleep, so they could come in handy. Lets just hope they don't induce any dreams about talking camels named Lehi...

  7. We have all experienced the "purchase something because you don't know what else to do" moment. In fact, just 2 days ago some lady came into the bank trying to sell a gallon of some sort of industrial cleaner...when I told her that we don't buy our own cleaning supplies for the bank and that only my manager was authorized to purchase anything she tried to get me to buy some for home. I proceeded to tell her that I didn't need it cause it's basically just me at home and I don't make that big of a mess...
    She came back with "You must be a clean freak!" After her hour long demonstration cleaning every surface of the branch I ended up the proud owner of a gallon of super strength industrial cleaner that this lady made in her kitchen! And it wasn't even working on the stuff she was trying to clean! What a rip off! Her huge selling point was that "it removes gum, sugar free or not!" other words, I will have no use for this cleaner ever!! Josh is not going to be very happy with me when she comes to talk to him about it next week...

  8. I also have a bunch of herbal remedies from Morocco that I was coerced into buying! they leaked all over my suitcase on the way home and they stink!!!

  9. Oh my word! ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Worst nightmare ever!!! I had a similar experience a few months ago when I was still prego. Some guy insisted that i sit and take a break while he straightened my hair (even though it was already straighter than straight). Then he tried to get me to buy a straightener. I told him I already had two. He said, "what's one more?!" So I told him i was poor and a single mom and made up this big sad tragic story. It worked like magic. Try that next time. Except then you have to repent after so maybe not a good idea.

  10. The blog looks good and regarding the natural skin care products i feel the dead sea salts and mud helps a lot.Dead Sea bath salts and lotions will relieve skin diseases such as Psoriasis, Eczema and Acne
    When you bath, Dead Sea bath salts act as a disinfectant and gently removes harmful environmental particles from your skin.
    Dead sea products

  11. I cannot tell you how happy that last comment just made me.

  12. Just to add my two cents... I have a few drawers full of crap I've purchased from kiosks in the States, as well as from around the world. I have never used most of it. Sometimes I give it away, but I swear the stuff reproduces in those drawers, because the drawers seem to fill back up again on their own.

    I have to agree with Andrea's comment -- avoid eye contact at all costs. But, if that doesn't work, just yell at them (kind of like I did to that man/host at the restaurant in our hotel in Jerusalem).

  13. random blog stalker here...this story cracks me up!!

    one time, my sister and I were accosted by a mall kiosk man during the Christmas season (I swear those booths have some sort of yearly mating ritual and happen to reproduce like rabbits right around the holidays...). He did a huge demo and kept offering us discounted prices, etc, and when we told him we couldn't afford it he pointed to the shopping bag in my hand and said "well, you just bought all of that stuff! you have money!" I then proceeded to tell him that there was only one thing in the bag that my sister and I had saved up for for a REALLY long time, and the store we got it from was an outlet store with cheap prices but we still had to wait for it to go on sale to afford it, and it was a Christmas present for our Mom, and we really needed to get home right away because we promised our mother we would be back to help with our six siblings and get dinner started.
    And then he left us alone. Success!!
    In my defense, the story I made up was partially true...there was only one thing in the bag, we had pooled our money for it, and it did come from a cheaper store that happened to be having a sale that day. But we probably could've afforded his junk, and our Mom wasn't expecting us home soon, and we don't have 8 kids in our family like I made it sound. Only 6. :P
    It is so hard to walk away from those people though. SO HARD.