I’m not pregnant or buying a house

A friend offered me some tea when I visited her recently. This tea didn’t come in a bottle and it wasn’t brewed from bags. My friend made it from scratch with hibiscus flowers, rose petals, clover and honey. After boiling and simmering it for 15 minutes, she added some orange slices. My taste buds were shocked to actually enjoy something liquid that wasn’t Coke or water.

Then a different friend shared an herbal tea recipe with me. Since regrettably stepping on a scale on Memorial Day weekend and discovering I weigh 8 more pounds than I thought, I’ve been cutting back on all that soda I drink. Here was another opportunity to replace sugar and caffeine with something tasty and healthy.

The problem was that grocery stores in my area don’t sell fresh chamomile and mugwort by the ounce. I didn’t want to order them online since you can never be certain to get fresh herbs. The best herb shop around is about a 40 minute drive from my house. I was disappointed until I learned the herb shop has a booth at a weekly farmer’s market at my favorite neighborhood park. If you call them, they will package your order and send it to the farmer’s market for pick-up. Score!

herbsThe friendly lady working the booth made polite conversation while she processed my payment. She asked me what I intended to use the herbs for and after I explained about wanting to cut back on soda and lose a few pounds, she congratulated me. “Thank you,” I said.

She started showing me the prepackaged teas that lined the tables. She selected a tea for pregnant women and talked about the herbs’ health benefits for expecting mothers. Wait. Did she think I was pregnant? What on earth did I say to make her mistakenly hear the word pregnant? Or was she just demonstrating the variety of teas they sold? Then she scanned the ingredients of another bag and said, “After you have your baby…”

Uh oh. That was awkward. I’d already accepted her congratulations. Was it too late to correct her? Which one of us would be more uncomfortable if I did? I decided to pretend I hadn’t heard what she said about having a baby and leave as quickly as I politely could. As she handed me my bag of herbs and receipt, she said, “Congratulations again!” This was my last opportunity to correct her. The herbs were affordable, high quality, and I knew I wanted to purchase more in the future. If I didn’t speak up now, it would be weirder later. But I didn’t. I smiled shyly and thanked her for the second time.

The next day I went grocery shopping. A lady was asking everyone who passed by her if they wanted to learn how to save on fuel and get free groceries. Ooooohhhh, me! Me! I do! The kids were at home with my husband so I was totally unencumbered and could kill a few minutes learning how to save money. I’m a dedicated coupon clipper. I combine them with the sales to maximize my savings. If there’s anything more I can do, then I want to know about it.

What this lady explained to me was really enticing, like tons of opportunities for reward points, 25 cents off per gallon of fuel for the first three months, and rewards checks four times a year. We chatted for a bit and I explained that I have a family of five, so I appreciate any deals I can get. Whatever I don’t spend at the grocery store or on gas can be saved or put in the entertainment budget. At the end of the spiel, I realized the only drawback. You have to get their Visa card. Even though I knew in the back of my mind I might want the card at some point, I wasn’t prepared to fill out an application and open a line of credit right then and there. So I admit it, I lied. I gave her the standard answer I tell every clerk who pitches a similar offer. I said, “We’re buying a house and I can’t open any new lines of credit right now.” That usually releases me from any high pressure sales tactics and ends the conversation. No harm, no foul.

Except.

This lady was so sweet that she was immediately interested in my fake house hunting experience. She agreed with my wise decision not to open any new credit and even advised me not to buy a car during the process. She told me not to stress, as so many people find it one of the most stressful things they do in life. She wished me luck. Once again I guilty thanked someone for their kind sentiment. I could almost feel my nose growing. Then she said to stop by and let her know how it’s going the next time I come in because she would be interested to hear. And I believed that she would genuinely like an update. I suspect she’s also one of those people who never forget a face.

On my way to checkout, I passed by this lady again. This time she was also giving away free samples of caramel popcorn. I’m a popcorn purist. I like it drowning in hot butter with very little salt. I don’t care for all the fancy schmancy dessert flavored stuff. When she tried to hand me a plastic cup full, I declined. “No thank you, I’m chewing gum.” I’ll have you know that was the honest truth. I was chewing gum.

She suggested I take some home for my kids and handed me a whole bag after she placed a sticker over the bar code so I wouldn’t be charged at checkout. I’m sure she had a certain amount she could give away. I’m also sure she chose me as a lucky freebie recipient because of the nice conversation we’d had. And yes, I felt appropriately guilty even as I later lazed on my couch, reading and snacking on that surprisingly delicious caramel popcorn that had no hulls or kernels. I’m definitely going to buy some the next time I’m in the store. I just don’t know what I’ll say to that kind lady when I see her again.

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