Last week, I decided the time had come to finally purchase a new flattening-iron for my hair. I had been meaning to do this since June when my neighbor came over to visit with a head of hair that had me swooning.
“Wow! Your hair looks amazing. Did you just come back from the hairdresser?” I said as she and her hair danced into my home. She was already endowed with great hair but today she looked like she just got back from shooting a Pantene commercial.
“No. I just got this new flat iron for my hair. The person at the mall did it for me. It even works on wet hair.”
Wow. Wet hair. I was sold. One less step in the never-ending grooming process.
“I got it by one of those carts at the mall. If it doesn’t work or breaks they’ll take it back and replace it. ” Whatever. She had me at “wet hair.”
I hurriedly circled the mall looking for the cart that held my follicle-destiny. To my horror, there were a few of them. All different. What if I chose the wrong the iron and all my hair started to fall out.
I arrived at the first cart. It was un(wo?)manned. I waited a few minutes. Looked around. Tried to make eye-contact with neighboring carts that hawked different products to see if they knew the whereabouts of this particular proprietor.
Apparently this particular vendor did not want to make money that day so I left in search of another iron -seller.
I decided to stop at a beauty supply shop.
“I am looking for a flat-iron that works on both wet and dry hair,” I explained, carefully emphasizing the wet part.
“The only one we have is this one.” She pointed picked out one from the Remington company. It was selling for $37.00.
I noticed they had others that were far more expensive. In my narrow-minded world, expensive must mean better-made, better-quality, better better better.
“You can’t use these on wet hair?” I asked picking one up that sold for over $100.
She nodded no and I began to wonder why. Will I get electrocuted? Will my hair fall out? Do the ones that can theoretically be used on wet hair necessarily make your hair look as straight, flat and smooth as the ones that don’t? I was getting discouraged.
I left the store no closer to an informed decision.
And right as I left the store there was a vendor selling hair irons from a cart. Was this the magical iron salesperson who held the key to better hair days ahead?
I walked toward it all the while bracing myself for a pitch that I knew could rival that of a used-car-salesman.
His name was Nate. He sat me down in front of a giant mirror and proceeded to pull out my elastic. My hair was sufficiently damp. He took a lock of my hair in one hand, the iron in another and …whoosh…steam hissed out while a perfectly smooth and straight piece of hair emerged from the other end of the iron. Pure magic to a frizzy-haired girl’s eyes.
Foolishly, he brought out the box where I noticed the obscene number of $300 printed in teeny-tiny numbers in a teeny-tiny corner of the box.
“What? I’m not paying $300. Listen. I am not going to waste your time…” I attempted to jump out of the chair but he gently blocked my way while waving the hot iron before me.
“Look, for you today, I make it $150.” He just dropped the price in half which got me wondering how much this appliance was really worth.
“Sorry Nate. I am just not willing to spend that kind of money for this.”
“Well how much do you have?” OK. Nate just lost my business. And that question was so rude that I was going to let him do his whole spiel anyway and then walk away leaving him with no sale.
“It’s not gonna happen for $150.”
“Okay. Here’s what I’ll do. $99. But today only. And I am gonna give you gifts to go with that.” He was desperate. I couldn’t wait to burst his bubble.
“Gift” is usually code for crap that will just sit in a drawer for the next decade.
Nate began whipping out three items that I already knew came with the iron, though he was playing it like he was giving me a bonus.
“Look at this,” he says as he showed me a cheap piece of plastic with suctions. “You can put your iron in here right up on the mirror instead of the counter.” Though I failed to see the advantage in doing that.
“And look…look…a carrying case.” Where was I supposed to be carrying it to and what would happen if I didn’t put it in the neoprene sack that he was showing me. Sadly, I can’t even remember what the third gift was – which clearly demonstrates the impression it left on me.
“So which one do you think you want to buy?” he asked, practically salivating.
“Well, tell me, what’s the difference?”
“May I take a piece of your hair?” Sure. It’s not as if I don’t shed half my head of hair every week anyways.
He took a single strand of hair and showed me a trick, which still has me scratching my head. He took out an iron from a competitor that had ceramic blocks – a product he does not sell. He was going to show me why his product was “superior” to other models sold at more reputable establishments. So he wrapped my hair around it, then took a lighter out of his pocket and lit my hair on fire.
As you would expect, the strand of hair was immediately scorched and disappeared . But then he took another strand, wrapped it around his product, held the lighter to the iron and…I swear…nothing happened. The hair remained fully intact.
However, I have no idea what message that demonstration was meant to convey.
And with that I thanked Nate for his time, jumped out of the chair and waved good-bye.
On my way home I stopped off at Target for some household items. I decided to take a detour through the hair appliances. It was there that I spotted the same Remington flat-iron that was being sold in the beauty supply store – only in target it was $11 less.
I bought it and whaddya know…it worked just like Nate’s only without the annoying pitch.