Ever notice people handing out samples in supermarkets? You know the ones: the demo people who call out, “Sample truffles, chocolates or ice cream.’ Then customers stampede toward them as if these words were announced from Mount Olive.
Ah yes, I’ll admit, for a few months I’ve been demonstrating samples at supermarkets. I cannot say I have seen it all –- yet –- I have a toilet paper demo later today.
After watching customers’ behaviors, I have observed something I call Demo Neurosis or DN. (A term used within the business of giving fancy acronyms to peoples’ over-reactions to the vast array of annoying quirks that beset modern life.)
Words such as candy, soda, ice cream, or chips — the sounds of these seemingly innocuous words set off the first mild symptoms of DN. Here we have the ordinary, ‘Should I or shouldn’t I try it?’ ‘Will it make me fat, or give me bad breath?’ The latter response usually comes when I offer a sample of, say, garlic stuffed olives. You can tell the customers most likely to progress into full-blown DN. These are the ones who stare blankly and ask, ‘What’s it stuffed with?’
Other customers suffering from DN fantasize that they are culinary experts. When I offer them hummus, they snobbily reply, ‘I wouldn’t eat that, it’s made out of goat cheese.’
At this point, in order not to appear offensive, I take a deep breath, relax, and bend down as though trying to retrieve something from the cart. On this occasion a woman hits me head on with the front of her shopping cart. I am knocked ten feet into the nearest wall of produce.. With stars still circling around my head, the manger rushes over and asks, “Are you going to sue?’
“No,” I reply with a shake of my head as I feel for blood. “But it was a hit and run, she didn’t stop. Did you get the cart number?”
Now it’s time to demo toilet paper. I figure this will at least give me something soft to fall into. Eyes glazed, goose egg forming on my forehead, I attempt to smile as I hand out coupons. Of course, one in every crowd fancies himself a Jerry Seinfeld.
“How can I buy the toilet paper if I don’t see you try it?’ The man laughs at his own joke as if he was the only person who thought that. (Hint: that’s why Seinfeld is paid big bucks — he makes other people laugh.)
“You couldn’t pay me enough, sir.”
“How much is enough?” A crowd begins to gather.
“A million, small bills, brown bags,” It is definitely time for a lunch break.
I buy fresh broiled cod at the food bar and use a coupon for a roll of toilet paper in lieu of napkins. I head to my car to eat in peace.
As I crack the car door open to let in fresh air, I notice a lone scrawny seagull watching me. I throw him a small piece of cod. He gobbles it down. I hear a squawking noise as fifty-to-sixty gulls land on and around my car. Now I’m in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
I throw a small piece to the flock. The flock – actually two gangs of gulls fighting over crumbs of cod reminds me of another movie. Beaks snap like stiletto knives while webbed feet stomp like a dance between Jets and Sharks. I throw several pieces as far I can in hopes of getting them off the hood. Now I’ve caused a full-fledged gull rumble, though one remains on the hood and stares me down. Tony?
Tony makes his move and flies in the car as I swat at him. Bad move as Tony begins to fly frantically, and crap on the velour seats with every wing flap. I lean over and open the passenger door setting him free.
When I try to step out of the car, once again the two gangs of gulls eyeball me. I close the door as a car cuts through the empty parking spaces, making the gulls scatter. I jump out, head into the store, and resume the toilet paper demo.
Let me see how I can sum up this up: After fending off shopping carts, Tony the Gull, and an elderly gentleman offering sophomoric jokes, I’m left with a car full of seagull droppings, and a handful of toilet paper coupons. I would call it one Flappy Crappy Demo Day.