Buying a pair of pants was not easy when I was young. We had to buy cloth and have it stitched by a tailor into something that resembles a pair of pants. To buy the fabric for the pants, we went to a fabric store, where a guy shows you a variety of cloths from which you pick one.
Circumstances have conspired in a way that I had to re-live the experience yesterday. I am the kind of a guy who prefers self-checkout whenever possible to avoid human interaction. You can imagine my discomfort having a salesperson involved in the selection process.
When I entered the cloth store, my expectation was simple. The sales guy would throw some raw material for pants on the table, I keep shaking my head until I find the right one, pay for it and walk out.
When I entered the store, the salesperson asked what kind of pants I was looking for. I told him I wanted something I could wear to work if I ever need to wear formals to work. Without warning, he spread a light-orange colored cloth on the table. Did I mention I don’t work at the circus? I explained to him, “I’d like something dark and plain, just like the way I like my coffee.”
He: You want coffee color pants, sir?
Me: No! I mean, something simple. Plain. Dark gray, preferably.
He (shaking his head disapprovingly): No.
Me: You mean you don’t have dark gray?
He: We do sir, but it is not the latest fashion. You must buy latest fashion, sir.
As prima facie evidence of latest fashion, he pointed me to a poster of Mahesh Babu, a young Telugu hero, wearing some sort of orange pants. I suspect most people in the US do not know Mahesh Babu and hence are blissfully oblivious of the fashion trend he is setting. I am not too compelled by the option. I insisted that as the prospective wearer of the pants, my preference is given priority.
As I went through the stacks of raw material, the salesperson was visibly dismayed at how barbaric my taste was and how ignorant I was about the “latest fashions.” He kept pushing more flamboyant (and more expensive) cloths, which in my opinion are more appropriate for curtains rather than pants. Everything I liked was met with stern disapproval from the salesperson. He kept reminding me “For a man of your good color, you must wear nice colors, sir. You are picking all dull colors.” (“Color” here does not refer to my race. It refers to my skin complexion)
The crowning moment of the shopping experience was when the salesperson suggested, “May be you should bring madam (my wife) along sir?” sounding hopeful that she would talk some sense into me.
After an hour of archaeological digging into the heaps of clothes, I unearthed something we both liked. I liked the cloth and he liked the price.
You don’t even want to know the ordeal at the tailor.