I barely escaped it as I was breezing into Fresh & Easy this afternoon: "Excuse me, do you care about the environment?" It took me a second to process the fact that the two women outside the store with hand painted cardboard signs were not in fact homeless, but gathering donations for what I assumed was a charitable cause. (Anyone still reading after that last judgmental sentence?) "Excuse me, MA'AM? Do you care about the environment??" Darnit, they were still trying to catch me with my conscience on the line. What they were pitching was just not working for me. Or should I say how they were pitching. There were a few things wrong with their approach. Not only were the women flanking the only entrance to the store (which I HATE, and it only makes me avert my eyes that much more, and walk that much faster past their home-made clip boards), but they were asking me the worst possible question they could ask. Do I care about the environment? Really? Somehow I was a little offended that they were even asking people that question. I was kind of afraid that if I did stop, they might produce photos of less fortunate doe-eyed children in foreign countries in need of my help. And then I would be tearing up too much write my signature clearly on the line.
But really, these people are probably promoting something totally legitimate and worth-while, right? Maybe even worthy of my attention and support. It's like any group of people with an agenda, no matter how well-meaning that agenda is. There is no way to avoid those who are promoting/sharing/offering/soliciting/selling their foundation/faith/experience/cause/product. And I admit sometimes I am a sucker for a good thing. But there's got to be a better sell, right? (Something other than the good ol' heart-string-tug standby.)
So I grabbed a cart, and forgot all about the environment as I started shopping for pudding packs. As I rounded the corner to the hard cheeses, I passed by a woman who had super short hair, like mine, only blond. She complimented my short hair in passing, which always goes over well with me. So I stopped, and we chatted for a while about things of great importance like hair color and blogging. And then she casually, almost as an aside, mentioned that she works for Arbonne, and something about samples. And in the back of my mind a little bell was going off, telling me that I might fall into some Arbonne demographic. But as soon as I hear the word "samples" something switches off and I'm on freebie auto pilot. And darnit, she was just so genuine and easy to talk to, and she couldn't believe I was 31, and I had already given her my blog address (Hi, Liz!), and we had that whole short hair thing going for us. (Not to mention she easily looked 10 years younger than her age, which admittedly intrigued me.) And before I knew it I was giving her MY e-mail address, when she hadn't even asked for it. So there you have it. Whether she was really at Fresh & Easy to shop for smoked gouda, I don't know. But we easily fell into a nice conversation, and her business happened to come up. And that is the right sell. The personal exchange. Sure, the foundation/faith/experience/cause/product may or may not always work for me in the end. But I still had a chance to tell someone a little about me, in return. And that blog address? If she does visit (Hi, Liz!), she's probably going to get a healthy dose of who I am and what I am all about, as well (did I mention I sell on Etsy). Win win.
As I left the store, I sauntered obviously and slowly out of the sliding doors. "Excuse me, ma'am. Do you care about the environment?" And I swear I wanted to say, "No. No I don't!" just to see the look on their faces. Come on. Of COURSE I care about the environment. I just spent my allotted quarterly cosmetic allowance on all-natural and organic beauty products. Too bad I didn't run into an Arbonne consultant at CVS first...