Last week, I was striding through City Square Shopping Centre near Vancouver City Hall after a dental appointment. The centre’s airy heritage architecture can’t quite compensate for the mundane mall experience, so I had no reason to stick around. In passing, I noticed the abandoned Hello Kitty kiosk. “What happened to them?” I asked a neighboring vendor.

A Chinese immigrant in her 50s or 60s, she gabbed about their move to a larger mall with more shoppers willing to shell out for genuine Sanrio merchandise. “Are you Japanese or Korean?” she interjected. Before I knew it, she clasped my right hand and began buffing my thumb nail. Her kiosk sold cosmetic products by Seacret, an Israeli company unfamiliar to me.

“Look at that,” she marveled, smoothing the ridges and then rubbing my nail to a gleaming finish. “It last for two weeks. All natural. No need polish.”

She proceeded to rub cuticle oil around my nail. “You take care of your hair, your face, but why not your hands? So dry.” Then she held a boxed nail kit. “Online, $59.95. Today special $39.95. Only today.”

Me? Buy a kiosk nail set? “I’ll think about it,” I said, all set to escape.

She persisted, buffing my other thumb, commiserating over the hand-wrecking “women’s” tasks of cooking and cleaning. “For you,” she said, “I’ll give the senior special: $29.95, even if you’re not senior. Treat yourself.”

When I demurred, she pulled the two demonstrated products from the box: “Buffer and oil, $20.” I did the unthinkable and bought it.

As a rule, I reject pushy salespeople and unknown brands. This was As Seen On TV up close and personal. But the Seacret saleslady somehow amused me with her chatty familiarity and never-say-die tenacity. She reminded me of three things:

  • Don’t give up The Seacret saleslady would not accept my “no.” And she had nothing to lose in pursuing me until my “no” was final. Do I persist that hard in the face of likely rejection or imminent defeat? Do I put myself on the line day after day? I can admire such doggedness.
  • Synchronicity That very week, I’d already been contemplating my chronic hangnails, due to frequent hand washing and the natural dryness associated with vata dosha. Having a total stranger offer a solution was a neat coincidence (nevermind that she probably accosts anyone who makes eye contact). I figured that Seacret’s buffer and oil were no better than drugstore brands, but I could live with the price (and, hey, I crossed something off the to-do list).
  • Helping one another We’re all trying to make a living, whether as lawyers or yoga teachers or Seacret salesladies. Who knows: Maybe she can’t stand kissing up to strangers for a $20 sale. But it’s her job and she’s definitely not lazy. Twenty dollars wouldn’t break me and we both took something home from that encounter.

Acknowledgment: I discovered the idea of synchronicity through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

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