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#46368 - 07/29/01 08:46 AM Re: Rudeness in stores
Eddie Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 06/05/00
Posts: 1713
Loc: Phila., PA, USA
How about this one: The main Corté Inglés at Puerta del Sol in Madrid I went to use the restroom. There was a long line for the ladies' room so it was not surprising to see several women 'doing their thing' when I entered the mens' room. What bothered me about that whole incident was that it seemed to me that they thought I should apologize for intruding on them in the restroom marked 'Caballeros.' Not in this lifetime! eek

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#46369 - 07/29/01 11:23 AM Re: Rudeness in stores
Wolf Offline
Member

Registered: 01/25/01
Posts: 1235
Loc: Rockford, IL/Milton, WI, USA
Eddie,

I don't blame the women for taking over the mens room though. For some reason, almost every country in the world hasn't recognized the fact that they need more facilities for women. In the U.S., as you know, new construction, even in sports stadiums, is including these facilities.

I think they figured to you should have stepped to the end of the line and waited with them, until it was your turn. I'm not certain though... just a guess.

I can remember an incident at a Chicago Bulls/Milwaukee Bucks game several years ago, before the new stadium was built in Chicago. There were plenty of mens rooms but there was a serious shortage of womens facilities. A female security guard commandeered one of the mens rooms for women, and kept the men out. You should have heard the bellyaching... it was unreal, but she stood her ground, and even though I'm a man, I thought she did what was necessary.

I have a feeling that if there was a vote taken for the "Woman of the Year," in the old stadium, that lady would have won hands down. She would have deserved it.

Wolf (Who still holds doors for women, and people older than him, if there are any still alive... frown )

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#46370 - 07/30/01 11:32 AM Re: Rudeness in stores
Jaime Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/00
Posts: 147
Sheba, I remember when you first started posting here in preparation for your trip to Spain. Besides the rude incident in the store, did you have a good trip?

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#46371 - 07/30/01 11:57 AM Re: Rudeness in stores
taravb Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 02/22/01
Posts: 736
Loc: Ames, Iowa, USA
Hi, all--
This is a fascinating thread. I have had a variety of shopping experiences in Spain, some great and some bad. The best ones were in the clearance department of El Corte Ingles, where an incredibly kind woman helped me choose a coat. She sized me up right off (but without commenting), plucked the coat off a rack, and it fit beautifully. She commented nicely about how it looked and wrapped it up for me. Lovely!

Another good one was in the same department, looking at jackets and trenchcoats for my husband. The salesman was an older man, very dapper himself, and he and I had a delightful chat about how coats are cut in Spain. We concluded that a standard cut is too short for my husband's arms (he DOES have long arms!), and the man helped me to decode the numbers on the tags to try to find the right length (they aren't like sizes here, where you just look for a 35 inch arm). Even though he was commenting on a "flaw" of Doug's (yes, I married a gorilla man smile ), he did it so gently and kindly and made it seem that the fault was actually with the silly clothes, which just weren't long enough. I think that sheba's point about how much nicer it would be if salespeople remarked about the clothes, rather than about the bodies we are putting into them, is a great one.

We had another good experience in a men's chain, where another charming gentleman helped us to find pants that were long enough for Doug. He kindly suggested pleats when the flat-front ones looked horrid, and did so in a way that didn't make Doug feel like he should drop 10 pounds then and there.

I have had some unpleasant experiences shopping in both chains and boutique stores, with similar comments about not touching/unfolding clothes (then how the heck can you even tell if it MIGHT fit?) and about sizes. I am pretty small, but even I was aware of the "sizing up" glances of the saleswomen (the people who did this were always women). Some steered me away from certain things, and I found that the cuts of some styles were VICIOUS to problem areas like hips and thighs. I tended to feel that the saleswomen were very proprietary about the clothes under their control--like THEY got to decide who could buy what and when. Having folded countless stacks of t-shirts at the Gap, I can understand the secret irritation a salesperson might feel when someone upends a pile of clothes rather than asking for help, but still...it should be a SECRET irritation! I really thought some of the saleswomen were trying to decide whether I was good enough/the right size to be permitted to wear their precious clothes. And salespeople (like good friends) should know that discussing size issues should be done quietly, discreetly, and in terms that make it clear where the fault lies--with the idiot designers who think the whole world is a size 6! Yes, a salesperson should suggest a roomier size when necessary, but it's SO easy to say, "that designer's stuff is cut really small" or "everyone is having to go up a size in this style of pants." Why add to the media- and industry-fed body image issues that women in nearly the whole world have?

And just to conclude, we also shopped for children's clothes. Even when my husband and I loaded up our arms at Zara, nobody offered to help, nobody offered advice. Once I asked a saleswoman about a size, and she looked MOST put out by the question.

And in the children's department at El Corte Ingles, I watched a big argument between two saleswomen who were fighting over me (and my commission). I was buying a dress from the infant department and another from the children's department, and the women who helped me in each place were downright nasty to one another. The first one who had helped, and who had given me her name, ended up winning--but it left me with such a bad taste in my mouth. I understand that working on commission means that you have to protect "your" customers, but making that so blatant is really off-putting. When we went over to the children's shoe department to find matching shoes, one of the women lurked and sulked behind us.

Anyway, I found shopping to be alternately pleasant and icky, and have nothing but sympathy for those of you who have experienced the darker side of it. I also found that the way I was dressed affected the service I got (or didn't get), but I experience that here in the US at trendy or boutique stores too. Here, though, I will assert myself about rude or bad service, and in Spain (or anywhere else), I feel powerless. What WOULD be the right response to bad or rude service in Spain?

Tara smile

PS--and for a story of a shopping experience that left the shopper feeling like a goddess, regardless of size or shape, check out "power pouf," an article in this month's "real simple" magazine. The author went, on a lark, to a huge bridal warehouse and watched the saleswomen make EVERY SINGLE WOMAN (including her) feel like a perfect and beautiful princess, regardless of size, shape, or budget!

[ 07-30-2001: Message edited by: taravb ]

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#46372 - 07/30/01 12:24 PM Re: Rudeness in stores
sheba Offline
Member

Registered: 08/20/00
Posts: 118
Loc: Minneapolis, MN USA
Jaime--thanks for asking. overall, i had a fine trip. i didn't like madrid, simply because of the people. but in talking to other foreigners, i found that this was normal. it just reminded me to much of where i live. it could be a great place, it is a great place, but the people were off-putting.

strangely enough--i had the best time in paris. i went with very little expectations and i had the best experience of my life there. i only went for four days, but i'm now planning on how i'm going to be able to live there someday.

i think a lot of it had to do too with food and shelter. those are really most people's primary worries, and if those don't go right from the start, then it taints the rest of the trip. i didn't like the food in spain and where i lived was so noisy and heartbreaking that i had nightmares the entire time i was there.

in constrast, paris was quiet, very verdent, and the food was amazing. it's too bad, because i planned forever for the trip to spain and had all these really great ideals of what it would be from reading people's posts and from doing my own research, and then to get there and be treated so...well, i don't want to go back.

i did, however, really like Granada and Cordoba. I loved the Alhambra gardens (I'm a sucker for gardens, not impressed by architecture, but love gardens) and the gypsy quarters. I loved the cobblestone streets and the flamenco show we saw there in which i was one of the "beautiful girls" asked to dance (so exciting). and i loved sitting under the alhambra at night when it was all lit up and a breeze was coming off the channel surrounding the alhambra. the walk back to main street was amazing too. who knew that there were so many gay people in granada? strangely enough, i was treated with a lot more respect there then in madrid.

still, i did not get a chance to visit many of the other places that my comrades went to like Toledo, St. Sebastian, Ibiza, and Mallorca, Portugal, and Barcelona simply because i did not have the money. They all seemed to like the places with lots of water more than madrid.

i do however think that madrid is a great place to be introduced to europe because it is so cheap and the metro system is excellent and the museums are first-rate and the architecture is really representative of all of europe. but i wouldn't want to keep going back, if only to preserve my sense of respect for other people.

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#46373 - 07/30/01 02:56 PM Re: Rudeness in stores
Jaime Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/00
Posts: 147
I'm so sorry to hear that Sheba but I do hope you will give it another shot some time in the future. Traveling is strange in that whether it goes well or not depends on so many variables and it just takes one to screw up a trip. I've only been to Spain once but have been to Central America several times and always had wonderful trips and dream of going back. However, some girlfriends I've gone with would never go back because they were ripped off, bad lodging etc.... A lot of that is just being at the right/wrong place and time. I only had the opportunity to visit just a few cities in Spain during my trip but in Madrid I found the people to be less friendly and helpful than in the smaller towns and cities. It makes sense if you compare people' attitudes in New York City to small town usa right? My brother adored living in Salamanca and my girlfriends loved many of the small towns in the south. Maybe if you could concentrate your travel to the smaller cities you would end up having a better time.

My elderly grandparents just got back last month from Paris and were mugged in the train station their first day there. They had to waste two days of their precious trip trying to get things in order at the embassy. If they hadn't been to Paris before and enjoyed themselves in the past, they probably would not have wanted to go back and had a bad impression of Paris. My point is....I hope you will give Spain another chance and I bet you would end up having a more enjoyable time the second time around.

[ 07-30-2001: Message edited by: Jaime ]

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#46374 - 07/30/01 03:25 PM Re: Rudeness in stores
sheba Offline
Member

Registered: 08/20/00
Posts: 118
Loc: Minneapolis, MN USA
jaime--thanks for the encouragement, but after spending close to 10,000 there, (tuition/plane/rent/food)i just can't see going on a chance again. especially since it will take me five years with my income just to pay for that. i did spend 6.5 weeks in a place i wasn't too crazy about, that's enough. i'd rather be someplace that i love.

sorry about the metro theft in paris. that's horrible. i know that the entire time that i was there, everytime i stepped into the metro station, they made announcements about theives being in the metro in both english and french (but not spanish strangely).

after being in spain and living where i did, i was already very paranoid about stuff like that. i can see how it can happen with someone who isn't as paranoid. i felt completely safe most of the time in paris, but again, i'm black, and i really think that helps in many of these instances because even though i was living in the red-light district, pigalle, surrounded by prostitutes, sex workers, and johns, and was asked if i wanted to smoke pot twice by strange men, i never once felt uneasy or at risk and was more often than not, as in madrid, as in the u.s., assumed to be the criminal risk.

oh...one of the funniest things i noticed about madrid is that when you drop change you can be almost assured that no one is going to bend over to pick it up and run off with it as they are all afraid that they are in the middle of a theft scheme themselves. quite ironic.

but i can't even imagine going to the embassy for another passport. how that must suck. it would definitely ruin my trip.

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#46375 - 07/30/01 04:12 PM Re: Rudeness in stores
taravb Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 02/22/01
Posts: 736
Loc: Ames, Iowa, USA
My parents, sister, brother-in-law, and niece were the targets of a number of pickpocket attempts in Paris too, and that definitely colored their impression of the place. (Though see my recent post about my brother-in-law's arrest of a pickpocket in the Louvre--he's a cop and his training kicked right in).

I have never (knowingly) been targeted in Spain, and have had generally favorable experiences during my four vists there. My husband didn't care for Madrid either, but loved places like Toledo, Avila, Salamanca, etc. I didn't feel as safe during this trip to Madrid as I had on previous ones, though not for any reason I'm aware of. Just a funny gut feeling, I guess.

I do understand your reluctance to return--I had some bad experiences in Bordeaux and in Brittany, and wouldn't want to go back anytime soon. But still, someday I hope I (and you) will give some of those places a chance to redeem themselves!

And I just have a feeling, given your other posts, that you might like Barcelona and other parts of the north of Spain! I know I'm planning to take my next Spanish trip en el norte!

As always, you've given us all a lot to think about. Thanks, sheba!
Tara

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#46376 - 07/30/01 05:01 PM Re: Rudeness in stores
Majesty318 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/16/00
Posts: 233
Loc: New Jersey, USA
I forgot this other rudeness in stores thing earlier: in Salamanca I wanted to get an ankle bracelet with the charra symbol on it. So I asked the man if he had them, and he started to tell me how he could make any sort of bracelet by stringing together pieces of necklaces. He did that for me and as he was putting it on, he said, "Oh it looks like I need another necklace, your ankles are very thick." Which they are NOT, but I guess compared to size-0 españolas there was a difference. My ankles were about the only part of my body I did not already have a complex about...

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#46377 - 07/30/01 05:17 PM Re: Rudeness in stores
nevado Offline
Member

Registered: 06/11/00
Posts: 597
Oh, the lovely customer service in Madrid! I know this probably doesn't help, but I think it's improving with time (at least that's my perspective).

I had a lady at the MAC counter in Madrid tell me my eyes were too close together! smile (They aren't, either. I swear). My friend and I were laughing. I wanted to tell her that her boobs and her bellybutton were too close together.

Every time I go to see my suegra, she comments on my weight gain. When I got married I was 5'10" and 125 lbs. Now, every pound I put on is free game for her. One time I was visiting and the first thing she said was how much weight I had gained. After several days and several remarks, I told her I didn't think it was very polite to repetitively comment on my weight-gain. Then, I heard her talking to her sister on the phone and she said something about how much weight I had gained but that I didn't think it was polite to talk about it. I give up!

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