In accord with the unspoken rules of salesmanship, I broke someone's heart yesterday. And unreasonable as it may seem, I feel like a terrible person for it. Guilt has enveloped my very soul in a manner I have as yet never, until now, had to experience.

It started out as an ordinary day. I went to school. I went to work. I went home. Then I decided to go to the mall, not so much to shop but to take in the sights and more or less just browse around. All was going according to plan, and I was perfectly content. That is, until a saleswoman jumped in front of me and changed everything.

I was walking the mall, staring blankly around me, when all at once this woman barked at me:

Her: Hi! Are you interested in [item being sold]?
Me: Um, maybe. I guess so. Uh, sure.
Her: Great! Now I'm going to launch into a full 30-minute demonstration/explanation of everything on the kiosk, then I'll ask you what you want to buy, then if you say you're just looking I'll point out that you spent all this time here and are clearly interested in everything I'm selling, and therefore you should buy it all immediately, and if you don't buy anything I'm going to be super disappointed in you and I'll make this known to you by making you feel really, really guilty. Okay?

Well, maybe the conversation didn't play out quite like that, but it was really darn close. I entertained a mild curiosity about the items up for sale, and boy did I pay the price. First it was one demonstration, then a second, a third, and so on. You get the picture.

With each demonstration, the woman explained everything in great detail, most of which (maybe 75% or so) I actually paid attention to, while alternately getting distracted and/or zoning out. I was a good listener, and smiled and nodded and said "oh wow, that really is amazing" at all the right times.

Apparently, I'm too good for my own benefit. Once the demonstration was nearing completion, the subject of prices and purchase arose. I mentioned that I was just looking. Shopping around, if you will. It was then that I realized the various sales tactics being employed upon me, the unsuspecting victim (or customer, as some might prefer to say).

The discussion of prices and purchase was my cue to escape as soon as possible. The only problem was that, were I to do that, I would probably be sacked by one of those elite mall police officers, as I was fitted with several of the items used in demonstration. One such item required the help of another person to remove, so I was doubly trapped.

When I again repeated that I was only looking, the woman took offense and pointed out that I had spent all that time listening.

Her: You just spent all that time listening. You obviously want to buy our entire line of products. And if you don't, you should.
Me: Yeah, but it wasn't me who sought out you. I only agreed to listen, and I hadn't counted on your taking up half my evening. Plus, I don't have that much money to throw around.

This went on for a while, and she even offered to give me fantastic deals to "save" me lots of money. And while the thought crossed my mind that she was offering some actually very nice deals, I also realized that I wouldn't actually be saving any money, considering I would be buying something I had had no intention of buying in the first place. Wow! She was good.

Once this brilliant reasoning had entered my head, the saleswoman knew she would have to change tactics. And change she did. Suddenly, she shifted gears and put the pressure on me.

Her: Tell me why you do not want to buy any of our products? What is it about us that makes you not want to buy?
Me: Geez! What makes you think it's you?
Her: Well, I really want to know! Tell me, because I want you to be happy, and to buy all this stuff.

Did I mention she was good? I hadn't seen the guilt trip ploy coming. But hit it did, and it hit me hard. I argued with her for nearly ten minutes, and finally just had to make it clear that I wanted, more than anything else in the world, to get the heck away from there. Immediately.

She seemed to sense this, and so upped the pressure and the guilt. A true battle of wills, from which I am proud to announce I emerged victorious. I pulled an old trick out of the Pathetic Excuses That Are Obviously Lies bag: false hope. I said I needed to walk around the store and think about it, and that I would come back in an hour for sure and make my decision.

Anyone who has worked in sales knows this ruse. It tells the salesperson, without saying it outright, that the customer has zero interest in actually making a purchase. Even when I myself worked sales, I knew that once the false hope trick was thrown in, I might as well stop wasting my time.

This woman, however, was sales to the core. She did not give up, much to my disappointment. She at last resigned herself to the fact that I wasn't biting, but that didn't stop her from making the saddest face she could possibly muster, and then stare at me with said expression as I walked away. All the while, it was all I could do to push the image of her face from my mind.

Now I'm afraid that if I ever go back to the mall, I run the risk of seeing her again, and the guilt will suddenly return. I have to face the facts. I'm doomed.