Friday, March 16, 2018

A Glitch in the Matrix

It was July, and I was in the soap aisle at Superstore. A lady about my age came up to me.

"Excuse me," she said, "hi. I love your purse. Where did you get it?"

I smiled at her. "The Sears Outlet," I said. "Before it closed."

"Oh. Too bad," she said. "I'm looking for a purse, and I like that style." She looked disappointed. "I need something with straps like that that won't slip down my shoulder. It looks like it holds a lot too."

"It does," I said, still smiling, still glancing at the soap. I was trying to decide between mango-pomegranate and cocoa butter.

"Oh well!" she said. "Thanks anyway!"

"Have a good one," I said, and that was that.

Or so I thought.

She disappeared around a corner, and I took two soaps from the shelf and threw them into my basket. And when I turned to go, she was standing in front of me again, like a magical soap aisle fairy.

"I forgot to introduce myself," she said, and I thought that was weird, because I thought she didn't really need to introduce herself to ask where I bought my bag; she could just ask and go on her way and I wouldn't be bothered about it. "I'm Katy."

"Oh, hi," I said. "I'm Suzy." We had to shake hands, then, because what is an introduction if you don't grab each other's hands and move them up and down?

But then I could see that she had something else she wanted to say.

"Hey," she said, as though she'd just thought of something, even though you and I both know she hadn't just thought of something. "I was wondering, what do you do?"

"Stay at home mom," I said. "How about you?" Because I could tell she was going to tell me anyway.

"Actually!" she said, as though she weren't expecting the chance to tell me what she does, even though you and I both know she certainly was. "My husband and I have a business that we run out of our home. It's so great; we can both stay home and run our business. We met another couple who was doing it, and it was very successful for them, so we decided to give it a try and we're very happy. We're actually looking to expand, and you are so friendly and easy to talk to, I wondered if you might be interested in hearing more about it!"

I felt my face do that thing it does when people are trying to sell me something. I spend approximately 12 hours of my day being sold to, you know? I have real-life friends who love pyramid schemes. My smart phone literally listens to me speak so that it knows what to try and sell me. Plus, all of sudden every person I follow on Instagram is an influencer, trying to sell me a lifestyle or a product or a vacation. I don't need strangers coming up to me in grocery stores too.

I'm a smart woman, I know what I want to buy. I know where to buy it. I do research so I can buy the best It at the lowest price.

So anyway, long story shot (ha), I said I was super busy, and thanks no thanks, and have a really great day, and bye.

Fast forward to last Tuesday. I'm in Walmart. I'm buying jeans for Sully, whose legs grow five inches per second. A lady about my age comes up to me.

"Excuse me," she says, "hi. I love your purse. Where did you get it?"

I smile at her. I do get a lot of compliments on this purse, don't I? It was a good purchase. "The Sears Outlet," I say. "Before it closed."

"Oh. Too bad," she says. "I'm looking for a purse, and I like that style." She looks disappointed, and I experience a wave of deja vu. "I need something with straps like that that won't slip down my shoulder. It looks like it holds a lot too."

"It does," I say warily.

"Oh well!" she says. "Thanks anyway!"

"Have a good one," I say, and she walks away.

I turn back to the jeans, and wait.

She disappears around a rack of Batman t-shirts and emerges two minutes later from behind the jeans display, grinning.

"I forgot to introduce myself," she says, holding out her hand, "I'm Melissa."

"Oh, hi," I say. My mouth is still smiling, but my eyes are probably not. This isn't the same woman as the one from Superstore last summer, but I swear the interaction as a whole is identical. "I'm Suzy." We shake hands. Because we have to, because this is the Twilight Zone.

"Hey," she says, as though she's just thought of something, even though you and I both really, really know she hasn't just thought of something. "I was wondering, what do you do?"

"Stay at home mom," I say. And I don't ask her what she does, because darn it I already know.

"Amazing!" she says sincerely, enthusiastically, too enthusiastically, as though I am the only woman in the whole world who stays home with my children. She pauses. She's waiting for me to reciprocate the question, but I'm just full-on staring at her. So she plunges ahead. "My husband and I have a business that we run out of our home. It's so great; we can both stay home and run our business together. We met another couple who was doing it, and it was very successful for them, so we decided to give it a try and we're very happy. We're actually looking to expand, and you are so friendly and easy to talk to, I wondered if you might be interested in hearing more about it!"

I did my whole-super-busy-thanks-no-thanks-have-a-good-one-bye thing, but I'm really wishing I'd asked what company this is that writes out the script for the entire conversation so precisely, so exactly, down to the staging. Like, was there tape on the floor where she was supposed to stand when she came back for round two?

Has anyone else met these Purse People? What is this business? Is it something to do with purses? Or did I actually just experience a glitch in the Matrix?