Saturday, July 30, 2011

It wouldn't be vacation without a small trinket, would it? Oh, and customer service...

My dear, sweet husband has wanted to buy me a present for some weeks now to commemorate my Ph.D. I love that idea, but I'm not in the market for new clothes at the moment, nor for new shoes (I'm so scared that my feet will alter permanently! What do I do with all my BOOTS?!). So we've kept our eyes open... On Thursday, we went to the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, one of his favorite museums of all time and one that I'd never visited in all my trips to Greece. I was excited to go, as I'd been on their website often enough, and heard wonderful things about them - plus, I know nothing about art from the Cycladic Islands. Also, I had ulterior motives...

After visiting all the exhibits (dudes, if you go to Athens, go to this museum: it's lovely, charming, and non-overwhelming. DO IT), I dragged my husband to the gift shop, both because I'd heard it was awesome, and (mostly) because I'm on an everlasting quest to be just like joanaddicted... and one of my favorite pieces of her jewelry was obtained at this very gift shop. Here it is! My version is smaller, though:

They make a nice little package, don't they...

Can you tell what it is?

I have no idea how I got this effect and don't know if it will ever happen again.

Eeee! It's a cool ring! I've been jealous of other bloggers for so long for having cool rings that look like sticks, or crosses, or other cool stuff across their fingers. Now it's MY TURN. They had three sizes: super-long, not-so-long-but-surprisingly-huge-on-the-hand, and this one. I went for the least overwhelming of the options. And I luuuuuuuuuuurve it. I can't wait to wear it out for the first time. Yay!

In the museum gift shop, I also saw a cute pair of round, turquoise earrings. Because, as we know, I have a love affair with turquoise, I asked to try them on. Now, I find Greek customer service to be split between two camps: overly helpful and kind of up in one's grill ("No, lady, I can put in my own earring...oh. Okay.") and downright insulting (a hairdresser told my sister-in-law, during a trial run of a hairstyle for my wedding, that the way I wanted my hair - which wasn't what she had done - would look, and I quote, "disgusting."). So I was pretty relieved when the young lady at the museum shop let me try on the earrings on my own (without help!). She seemed to fall into a third category: not giving a damn. Okay, I like that the best. I tried on the earrings and looked at myself in the little mirror she brought over. I made an approving, but non-committal noise. "They're nice," she told my husband in Greek, "But without all this," she added, waving her hand all over my front. That's because I was wearing the Spartan amulet on its black leather cord and a very beautiful, very gold cross with very real diamonds and emeralds. And she didn't think it went with the earrings.


I happen to agree with her. God knows that I love the matching jewelry. I would not wear round turquoise earrings on silver with my gold cross. But I absolutely thought it was none of her business to tell me what to wear my own jewelry (and potential jewelry) with. If I want to go out in (to her eyes) horribly mismatching jewelry, clothes, or even shoes, I believe that she really doesn't get a say in this. And I got a little pissy. Fortunately, both my husband and I agreed that the silver ring was more special and the sweetheart bought it for me.

But this is something I really hate in salespeople: their absolute belief in their own correctness and that need to judge others' (less knowledgeable, they think) choices. My husband was laughed at in a hospital for asking for the clinic that was going to administer a certain ultrasound/test in a certain way. The lady at the information desk literally pointed and laughed at him. My best friend, who happens to be of Italian origin, calls it the Mediterranean "customer is always wrong" attitude. I even saw this in Argentina as a young girl, shopping with my family, that the sales lady refused to believe that I found a certain dress uncomfortable. I was eight years old. 

So, what do you think? What do you like in people who are "trying" to sell you something? Do you prefer overly friendly people who - in the end - are kind of pushy? Or do you not mind being judged because, after all, they're the experts? Or, like me, do you fall in a more neutral camp, where they don't get all up in your space and you know where to find them if you need them? I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

PS - For the Greek people that potentially read this blog: I love shopping in Greece. I love being in Greece. I love Greece. And generally, I've been treated like a queen. But sometimes the opposite has occurred. No offense intended, of course. 


  1. I like that ring a lot (and think you picked a good length, longer might make it awkward to wear) That said, I guess I am ok with -some- opinions (after all, I just gave you mine!) but when they're done in a kind-ish way. I think if that woman told you that the earrings would be a wonderful statement piece, she would probably pair them with everything else minimal herself, that would be one thing. To blatantly say don't wear them with anything else you have on is kind of pushing it. To say that a hairstyle chosen for your wedding is disgusting, that's totally uncalled for.

  2. First, the ring is VERY striking. Great choice.

    I had to ponder a minute about salespeople as it has been so long since I have shopped any retail. And then it hit me, as an instructor I'm obliged to deal with publishers' reps all the time. The good ones know to leave me alone and that the LESS they say about their product, the more likely I am to buy it. I think I'd react to this salesperson the same way you did.

  3. Cassy, YES! There's a way to couch an opinion that doesn't make you want to throw the product back into someone's face and leave! I totally agree! As to that hairdresser, my sister-in-law was so mad, that she swept me away (I totally hadn't caught the exchange), and we went elsewhere for both my trial run and my actual wedding hair.

    Terri, I'm with you on this one. Even if a salesperson is kind while I'm, say, clothes-shopping, I still tend to feel a little pressured and would prefer to be left alone. I also get a little monotonous and nervous when waiters are over-friendly, so maybe it's my problem! And thanks for the kind comments on the ring!