Mystery Woman


Salespeople don’t get me. And I’m fine with that.

By Lee Ann “Sunny” Brown

All I wanted to do was buy some lipstick. I didn’t know I needed to surrender my identity to do it.

I don’t know about you, but lately it seems to me that it’s become harder and harder to just go into a store, find what you’re looking for, pay for it and leave without having to supply your 23 & Me results. No matter what I buy, however big, or small, whether it’s a new tube of toothpaste, a jar of face cream or a jar of spaghetti sauce, a magazine, or a blouse or a pair of shoes, or whatever else it is that I have gone to the store to buy, whenever I get up to the register to check out I always have to play a tortuous game of 20+ Questions with the cashier. Never mind that I am already running late and just need to grab a can of hairspray to try and hold myself together in this humidity, I am always forced into participating in this crazy game.

It goes something like this:

1. May I have your name?

Me: “Is this lipstick going to start talking about me?”

2. What is your email address?

Me: “Why, does this blouse plan on contacting me?”

3. Can I have your telephone number?

Me: “Not even my mom knows that, you think I’m going to tell you? Did she put you up to this?”

4. What’s your birthday?

Me: “I’ve blocked it from my mind. I don’t have them anymore.”

5. Have you shopped with us before?

Me: “Is my husband paying you to find out?”

And so it goes, on and on:

6. Would you like to make a donation to save the starving children in Djibouti?

7. Would you like to make a donation to save a starving cashier in Birmingham?

8. Would you like to buy a book to give to the illiterate people in the Congo?

9. Have you signed up for our newsletter?

10. Could you be in our system under another name, number, or email address?

11. May I see your Driver’s License?

12. You look familiar did you go to Always High School?

13. Do you like that powder, mascara, magazine, fill in the blank_____?

14. How much of a tip do you want to give me?

15. Don’t you want to receive our coupons, sale alerts, spam messages?

16. What’s your password?

17. Did you already drink all that wine you bought yesterday?

18. Are you paying with credit or debit?

19. Which three magazines would you like to try for free for three months?

20. Would you like to donate to my GoFundMe campaign?

21. Who did you vote for?

22. Don’t you want a free gift on your birthday?

Seriously, I half expect them to ask me to give blood just to buy a new blouse. And, OMG—when you tell them you really don’t want to give out all that information, you are dead to them. They never look you in the eyes again. Not even to hand you your change or your package. Forget getting your receipt. And, they immediately start talking to their friends next to them, or the next customer behind you. You’re not there. In fact, you don’t exist. And, you never have. After all, you refused to be put into their system.

And, forget paying for anything in cash these days, it really freaks them out. They act like you are trying to hide something. Like you don’t want to leave a paper trail or something. It makes them angry. They don’t know your name, number, address, or favorite color AND, you paid in cash! There is absolutely no record of you. In fact, you are a complete mystery and it unnerves them.

I wish they wouldn’t take it so personally that I don’t want to get personal with them.

Of course, I know that they aren’t really that interested in me, they just want all of my data. But, I really feel that it’s not an even trade. I mean, if they want my identity so they can turn around and sell it I should get more out of it than a lousy t-shirt and a free ice cream cone on my birthday. In exchange for all of my personal information I think I should get everything for free. It’s only fair. Until then, my blood type will remain a mystery.

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