“Hi ma’am, how are you today?”

“Hi ma’am, how are you today?”

There is only one reason that anyone ever refers to me as “ma’am”. And, when they do, I have to fight the temptation to push them over, step on their neck and say “what the hell are you talking about — MA’AM?! I am only twenty six!”. Instead, I instantly shoot at them a look of sheer contempt and they lose me from the get go… I am no longer interested in anything they have to say. Because, my friends, the only time anyone ever calls me ma’am is when they are trying to sell me something I don’t need at an inflated price. And this is where my story needs context, for I want you to feel my pain. “What pain?” you ask. I’ll tell you… it’s the insufferable pain of purchasing a vacuum cleaner. Never again.

I managed to catch myself some gastro-loving last week. That was a bittersweet experience to say the least. On one hand I was throwing up like Courtney Love; on the other I had the day off work. So, despite my raging belly and massive headache, I thought that, feeling a little bit better (and only a little bit), I would do what any sensible person would do: I would brave a trip to the shop to buy a new vacuum. You see, my illness provides important background information — perhaps it provides an explanation as to why I found the experience so utterly horrible…read and decide for yourselves I guess!

I walked into Godfrey’s, mistakenly thinking that $200 cash would be enough to buy me a vacuum cleaner. After all, they just suck, right? That’s all they do. They have a hose and a motor and they suck the dirt off the carpet. But alas, I was clearly deluded. I was approached by a guy with a painted on smile and a very thick accent, who proceeded to 1) call me ma’am, 2) ask me if he could help me and 3) tell me that, out of 50 vacuums, there was only one model that was under $200 (and that was $199), but I was wasting my time with that crappy model… and thus, it begins.

Before I go any further I have to admit my own contribution to this experience, because I was stupid enough to ask him about the payment plan that they have on offer, whereby they deduct the cost of a vacuum in 6 monthly installments from my Credit Card. I thought to myself that if this deal was acceptable that it might be worth exploring a wet/dry vac, paying a little bit more and having a slightly better quality machine. So yes, I egged on an eager salesman and deserve everything I got. However, it wouldn’t be a funny story if it was all my fault. Besides, its my blog and I will write whatever the hell I want. Painty-face is welcome to write his own version on HIS blog.

Anyway, after having stupidly asked about the payment plan, painty-face asked me “So, what would you be willing to pay?”.

“Probably about $600.”

“Well, let’s look at this vacuum here.”

Oh good, I thought to myself, this looks like a good machine for $600. He then proceeded to go into every stupid detail about the vacuum. And folks, there are only so many “Ooohs” and “Aaaahs” you can feign with a vacuum cleaner salesman before it sounds utterly ridiculous. And it is hard to be genuinely impressed by a vacuum cleaner. With this in mind, picture my face as he pulls out the cord, exclaims that this cord is “the longest cord ever in a vacuum cleaner”. I wanted to kill him. Bearing in mind my foggy head, rolling stomach and general disinterest in all things housework, I was quite insulted that he would think I was THAT stupid and uninteresting that I would CARE about the stupid vacuum cleaner cord.

So, at this point, after hearing about filters, cords and 360 degree swivel, I finally ask him if I can buy it, just to shut him the hell up.

He pulls out a calculator, touches his nose, and says “what was it you said you can afford again?”

“I didn’t say what I could afford, I said what I was willing to pay. That was $600.”

“OK, so [typing on calculator] this vacuum retails for $1495. I can give it to you for $1395.”

“No thanks.”

“But you said you could afford it.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Then what can you afford?”

“I can afford to pay plenty, but I am willing to pay $600.”

At which point, I was so offended that he thought I was some stupid bogan housewife that would go into hock over a vacuum cleaner… and that he had wasted my time. I felt sick, I was feigning interest in the machine just to get the hell out of there, only to have him dupe me. I was spitting mad.

He continued trying to talk up the vacuum cleaner, convincing me to sign. I then said I would get back to them this afternoon, and took a business card. Paintey-face then said “alright, $1295.”

I couldn’t believe it. What an arsehole.

I walked out, muttering that I needed to “discuss it with my husband” like a good little housewife should, went across the road to Kmart, picked up a Kambrook vacuum cleaner with, funnily enough, filters and 360 degree swivel for $158. Kmart underpay their staff and it is often difficult to find a sales rep. Most of the time I woudl criticise this sort of things, but this was one day where I thanked Buddha for Department stores. At least they don’t call me ma’am. They just leave me be.

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