Just Say No

Recently I saw a former seatmate from one of my previous evening commutes. As soon as I recognized him, I turned my head, careful to avoid any eye contact in case he happened to look up. After we boarded the train, I kept myself occupied with reading my book and toying with my iPod. Thankfully he never looked up. If he had, it would have involved at least a smile, or a wave or some phony exchange, and if you remember the original post about the guy, I have already heard more than enough from him.

Sometimes if you're lucky, you don't have to go to such great lengths to avoid someone who has snagged you in the past. Even if you slip up and make eye contact, sometimes they forget.

One afternoon I managed to escape the house and head over to T.J. Maxx (it’s across the street from my house so obviously I didn’t go very far). It was there where I was accosted.

A smiling woman who looked to be around my age approached me as I browsed the knitwear section.

“Hi.” She said.

Interesting. No one had ever greeted me in T.J. Maxx before. I wasn’t going to flat out ignore her, so I said hello. From there she eased into her Mary Kay sales pitch.

Yes, I know. I should have suspected something when I saw that, while she was dressed down, her face was completely made up. Under the guise that she would be throwing a party that involved a free facial treatment, I gave her my name and number.

Big mistake.

Aisha was relentless. The phone would ring, and there she was chipper as can be—
“I just wanted to see what date would work for the free facial!”

Inside, I was groaning. I used the busy-with-the-new-baby excuse and weaseled out of it. She tried two more times, one of them when my best friend was visiting.

“Don't you know what they do at those parties?” My friend said. “They herd you into a living room and try to sell you shit.”

“I know, I know.” I said, after hanging up the phone. Why was it so hard to say no? Why do we feel compelled to go along with the pitch even if we’re in no way interested in what’s being sold?

A few months later Aisha found me browsing T.J. Maxx again (I'm in there pretty often; it's never the same place twice). The minute I looked up at her face and placed the smile, I stood, frozen, knowing exactly what was going to come next.

“…we do free facial parties and really it’s a lot of fun…”

When pressed for my name and phone number, I thought, are you kidding me? You just ran into me last December. I looked into her eyes and saw there was no flash of recognition behind them. She didn’t remember me at all.

So I did what anyone else would have done--

I told her my name was Keisha*, rattled off a ten digit phone number** and got the hell out of there.

*not my real name
**not my real number

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