'How I got my revenge on a rude assistant at the beauty counter.'

There comes a time in life when you’re shopping and you get the overpowering urge to deliver a short, sharp slap.

And for me, that time was yesterday.

I popped into a CBD department store to buy some cleanser. I like this cleanser. I’ve been using it for years. It’s the one for dry skin (dry = ‘mature’), and because I am thrifty, I stock up on it, and the perfume I wear every day, when they are giving away little bottles of delicious potions in what is euphemistically known as a ‘gift pack‘ (I mean, is it really a ‘gift’ if you have to buy stuff to get it?).

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Anyway. I like these little bottles. I like them because they are free and because they are perfect for travelling and because I get to try new things and, well, did I mention they are free?

It was a beautiful day in the city. And I was at one with the world when I breezed up to the counter and asked for the cleanser and (because I’m fully stocked on perfume at the mo) and a mascara. And that’s when it all went downhill.

Image: iStock.

The smooth-faced fellow who served me looked critically at my face. 'Have you tried our serum?" he asked. 'Yes, don't need it,' said I. (And this is the truth. Still got the duty free double pack.)


Was it just me, or did his lips purse a bit?

We moved to mascara. 'What sort do you use?' he asked, peering at my eyes. I know I'm not endowed with the luxurious lashes of a camel, but his body language did not suggest a silent compliment.

'Just whatever. Everyday stuff.'

'We have this,' he said, magicking from the concession's bottom drawer a thin white box. 'It's a primer; you put it on first and blah blah blah blah.'

'But then you still have to put on a mascara?'

'Well, yes.' He might as well have added, 'you-bloody-stupid-idiot-OF-COURSE-YOU-DO-that's-what-a primer-does'.

And of course, I know that, but I also know when someone is up-selling me and when someone is being just a little bit rude. And when there's an implied suggestion that perhaps you're not the 'type' to be buying this brand.

Author, Anne Markey.

Maybe he'd just had a rough Saturday night. Still, in the space of less than five minutes, he'd managed to turn what should have been a brief, smiling interaction into into a scowly, slightly incredulous, clash of wills. He was the assistant, and even if he didn't want to assist it would have been nice if he'd at least been pleasant.

'I'll just take the normal mascara.'

There's a phrase I love - 'putting on a puss'. Basically means screwing up your face like a grumpy cat, but saying nothing. He put on a puss, then placed a tube of mascara with exaggerated precision on the counter, no doubt inwardly rolling his eyes in disgust that it will be worn unprimed.

Mission accomplished, I thought. I have my old skin cleanser. I have my everyday mascara. Now I will get my little bottles of free potions.

But Puss wasn't finished.

'If you buy one other thing, you get the Free Gift,' he said.

'But I thought I got a free gift if I bought two things?'

'Well yes, but one has to be skin care.'

'Well, what's face cleanser if it isn't skin care? Isn't that what cleanser does - helps you care for your skin?'

Puss was v v unhappy at this stage.

'Madam, we usually think of skin care as one of our serums.'


Puss did not know how fond I was of the little bottles, or my deep familiarity around when to buy to get them.

'That's ridiculous. Cleanser is skin care.' And then I read the special offer out loud to him being, as it was, conveniently located on a sign just over his left shoulder.

Image: iStock.

'Oh alright,' he huffed. 'I'll give it to you this time.'

I waited until we were at the register. Truthfully, I never much care what's in the little bottles. But I was a little bit cross by now.

'Is this the only free gift you can get? Aren't there two to choose from?' I asked.

Puss's face went slightly red. His voice quivered a bit. 'Yes, madam, there are.'

'What's in the other one?'

It really was a delightful moment, watching him stalk over to the drawer, stalk back and explain my other option. I looked at the little bottles for some time. I pondered deeply which one would be best, changed my mind, changed it back. I thought, for a brief moment, he was going to explode.

But I got my potions.

And he should be glad he didn't get that slap.

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