When I was about 23, I worked for this uber posh, high end retailer. You know, the ones with big suited security and the sales person snubs you if your vintage Speedy bag is smaller than hers, and a pianist playing music at the escalator for no one in particular, oversized chairs in corners that no one would ever be lounging in.
I worked at a cosmetics counter with a $500 eye cream, which happens to be manufacted by the same company that mass produces the stuff they hawk for 20 bucks at walgreens.
I learned early on in my career, that the best way to thrive in a multi billion dollar industry...
was to sell dreams as shamelessly as possible.
Afterall, I mean... I'm saying, I was commissioned. Its a cut throat world in those swanky stores.
I once told a lady I was 41 to get her to commit to the eye cream that promised to take her from "that older lady" to "Johnny's hot younger mom" in two weeks.
She approached the glass counter, wearing an outfit from the juniors department or from her granddaughters closet. Its the standard daytime look, 300 dollar jeans and a 120 dollar tee shirt. Despite the loose skin at her elbows and neck, her surgeon had done well. The only off mark were the breasts, they were hard and made that painful looking gap in between her liver marked cleavage, (which to be fair, at her age, had been done before the invention of the tear shaped under the muscle procedure). She has big Yurman bangles, and even bigger Tiffany rings. I look up and give her a half smile.
She smiles back. "Excuse me is this your counter? I was wondering about this new age prevention cream I saw in Allure..."
I wait for it, and on cue, she reaches into her Jimmy Choo bag for the snippet from the magazine.
I light up a bit. The clipping always means half my job has done. The right person... had paid the right hypeman to say the hottest starlet had never been nipped plucked or tucked she just bathes in this magic potion...it goes into the mags..and presto! the marketing gods have spoken.
Now all she needs is to hear me confirm what she already believes.
She studied my face for a moment. I don't mind, I had taken extra care that morning with my makeup.
"Well, your super cute. How long have you worked here?" She asked as she looked for time on my face.
"Oh.. this store? About a year. For the brand? Oh, around ten years now." I wait again.
"Ten years! Honey, how old are you!"
Now, I leaned in very close to her. "Shhh, I'll be 41 on the 18th." I whisper this as if I was calling out my social security number, which is what I had seen women of a certain age do.
Apparently it brings you into the club. It also helped me keep my tactic from the pretty asian girl at the other counter. She was only a few thousand dollars from my sales record.
"Why, I know you women of color don't age as quickly, but I mean, you look like a teenager!" She is literally about to grab my face.
Well, I have my secrets. Lots of water, sunscreen and of course the elixir serum, it helps the moistizer penetrate deeper."
So... do you use this one?"
"Oh, everynight! The trick is consistency! Don't skip nights. And pat, don't rub it on. That makes more lines. The eye area...its very delicate. You have no oil gland there so it will dehydrate faster. Those fine lines...those are "dehydration lines" sweetie, your too young for "wrinkles, honey." As I finish my spill, I watch as she takes it all in.
I don't push the issue. With these women, it was always better to let them set the pace for how excited you were. The more I seemed to not care one way if she was there or not, the better.
This is what they come to spend 420 dollars more for with me than they would in the corner drug store. I sell them the dream in a jar, I listen as they tell me how much younger his new girlfriend is, how they only had one lift. I ooohhed, and tisked and agreed at all the right times. You cant get that from the girl who will bag your eye cream with your half gallon milk in Wally world. No...these women are paying for the "experience".
I don't need to do any more, but just for good measure I pull out the last card.
"Oh, and between you and me, I don't bother with the fancy cleanser. I use the regular old clean and clear from the drug store. Its like 4 bucks."
She writes the name down on her folded magazine page, that is now a balled up wad in her hands, she'd clinched them closed and hadn't opened them ever since I told her I had a teenage son graduating from high school.
"Wow! Well, I mean, if you use it... and your 41! Girl you look fantastic!"
"I swear buy it! You want to see my ID? Let me grab my satchel.."
"Oh. no honey! I believe you. I mean, you didn't even sell me the high dollar face wash! Thanks for the tip. I'll take three jars. Oh, and don't forget my elixir serum."
I smile broader now. "Sure thing. Are we putting this on the amex today?"....
I know what your thinking. What if she actually said 'yeah, let me see your id'? Right?
She wasn't going to ask. they never did.
It didn't matter how rediculous the story. People want to believe the lie, part of what made me a top sales person was I understood the idea that if they came in, they wanted to be sold. They were always looking for the confirmation that they were okay. They needed the hope in the jar because there was not any in their lives.
The more desperate we become in supericial pursuits, the more often the enemy can fool us with counterfit.
What lies do you buy into in your life? Do you allow people to sell you dreams?