A woman who works in a large Luxembourg City retail store has expressed confusion and exasperation following months of people she doesn’t even know approaching her and asking for her opinion about various items.
“Just ten minutes ago, a man that I have never seen in my life came to me and said he needed help with selecting a laptop,” said Julie Serviceaux, who has worked in the electronics section for six months. “And that literally happens to me five or 10 times every hour.”
Serviceaux says that because she had nothing else to do, she followed him to the computer area where for several excruciatingly long minutes he posed a series of very specific questions.
“He wanted to know my thoughts about brands, memory capacity, and speed,” she said. “I wanted to say, ‘monsieur, I’m not a computer expert, I just coincidentally work in the department that sells computers,’ but that seemed a bit obvious and I didn’t want to be rude.”
Serviceaux says that as usual, she ended the interaction by randomly choosing a laptop and describing it as “the best one” and pretending to have something else to do, but that increasingly she wants to ask people to leave her alone.
“My colleagues all say the same thing,” she said. “Michel, who works in the gardening section, says that all day long, random people ask him all these weird questions about gardening tools, flowers, and even things like grass seeds.”
“Michel is a nice person, so he usually tries to help, but it’s not like he’s a grass seed expert, and why should he know about shovels and rakes?” she continued. “One day he’s going to crack. We all are. A person can only tolerate being harassed by so many random people with their questions.”
Experts say that the rate of random people going into shops and posing questions to store employees happens all year long, but that for reasons that are unknown, it spikes during December.
“It might be due to seasonal stress or the lack of sunlight that people adopt this strange belief that it’s okay to ask someone for recommendations about washing machines just because they work in a shop that sells washing machines,” said sociologist Remo Ladronius.
“But you don’t go to people on the street and ask them if you should buy a Dyson vacuum or a more traditional Miele one, right?” said Landronius. “No normal person approaches a stranger and asks about the warranty period for KitchenAid mixer, so why does everyone think it’s okay to do this to someone just because they’re wearing a uniform and a name tag that says ‘how can I help you?’”
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