My biggest hate of all is snobby shop assistants in expensive stores. The ‘big mistake’ scene in Pretty Woman resonates so much with so many people because it is true. And I can never understand why assistants in designer stores are often so snooty. Do they feel that because they work in Gucci rather than H and M it makes them better?
I had a student once who loved Louis Vuitton shoes. She saved all her money for nearly a year to be able to afford a pair. When the big day came she was nervous about even entering the shop. She wore her best clothes and did her hair and makeup all nicely. When she got to the shop they were rude to her before she could even tell them what she wanted. Then they told her (I kid you not) that LV shoes were for model feet only. She was very very upset. In our class the following week we read about the same store asking someone to leave because she was an immigrant, poorly dressed and ‘obviously not there to shop’. In fact, she had money to buy something but that seemed beside the point to them.
Anyhoo, at the end of the term the group the ‘shoe lady’ belonged to usually went on a field trip with me – shopping! They would speak English in all the shops and restaurants we visited. This is amazingly good training in real-life small talk, polite chat, making transactions and ordering from a menu. BUT this time we made Louis Vuitton our first port of call. We all spoke only English so he didn’t recognize his former customer who didn’t have model feet. We asked (in English) about bags so that he had to rush around like a mad thing. I know my bags inside out so I made him take loads of bags off the shelves, and interrogated him about all the previous LV collaborations – my favourite is the Julie Verhoeven one (below) which he had never even heard of. Then I made him take all the drawers out of the travel trunk and swanned off to the other side of the shop leaving him to put them back in. When he spoke in English he had a fake French accent. What a prat. My students really enjoyed that. And about a month after that I organised some LV shoes for my student who wore them specially to the next lesson to show me her thanks and how pretty they were on her ‘non-model’ feet. Charlotte wherever you are these days, this post is for you! Edited to add: Charlotte found me on Facebook today and told me again how happy she was with the LV shoes I found her. And she remembers our field trip very well. Talking to her again absolutely made my day!