I could see her from the corner of my eyes, but I didn’t dare lock my gaze with hers. I saw her as she shifted on her feet: a slight step forward, and then a little shuffle back, followed by the placing of a foot in front of her, but then a decision that it wasn’t the best move. Slyly eyeing her hesitation was kinda fun, but I decided to turn my back in case she changed her mind and decided to actually approach me.
You see, this happened in a clothes store in Geneina Mall in Nasr City. It’s an okay sort of place, where you can get some decent stuff for not too much money… hey, they’ve even got a Clarks shoe store (ain’t decently priced in there!), so it’s not a down-in-the-rut kinda mall.
Anyway, my experience in this mall has always been like this:
– Walk into a shop
– Immediately trailed by a shop assistant (SA) who straightened up the minute I walk in
– See a skirt I like
– Take skirt off the railing
– SA takes skirt out of my hand, assuming I want it
– My jaw drops from shock
– SA says ‘haga tani?’ (anything else?)
But last week, I flipped the script and had a plan… an in-ear plan, and so it happened like this:
– Walk into a shop with earphones visibly in ears (I wear a hijab, so I made sure I put them in from the outside, rather than under from the inside)
– Proceed to a clothes rail and finger through a load of clothes… nothing particularly interesting
– Eye SA shifting in hesitation
– Turn my back to her
– Find nothing interesting and walk back out
What’s the difference? I didn’t get stalked by a shop assistant! Happy days!
I’m telling you, SAs in Egypt have a totally different concept of customer service, which often entails them tailing you in a store, so close that you can almost feel their breath on the back of your neck (or in my case, you can see their breath causing the wave of my scarf)! It’s suffocating to feel that you’re being followed in this fashion, and although I totally understand that they’re trying to be hospitable and provide high-levelled service, taking a garment out of my hand before having the chance to inspect it makes me feel as though a degree of my purchasing power is being snatched too.
The over-enthusiastic even go the extra mile, picking out clothes for me, which are almost always hideous, and add an insulting “Hilwa, wallah!” Sorry? You’re swearing by God that it’s nice?
I can gladly say that I’ve put an end to this madness. My in-ear treatment worked marvellously, and I will never be stalked in Geneina Mall ever again… God-willing. *grin*
– A smug Londoner