May I help you?
When travelling abroad, I find it very disconcerting to visit some kind of shop where the salespeople are extremely helpful. I get so flustered when someone sidles up to me, all bright smiles and eagerness, and asks me some kind of question in a foreign language. They’re probably just asking if I have any questions, letting me know that they’re here to help me, or just acknowledging my presence, but I never know quite how to respond.
Now, I understand that a lot of shops are really into providing customer service, and that’s great, but damn, I often do not know what to say when the helpful salesperson approaches me and asks me something with an expectant look on his/her face. Sometimes, I smile and nod, but most of the time that confuses the person and he/she tries harder to help me, pointing out various things about whatever product I’m looking at. I wonder if it’s better to just ignore the person, or is that very rude? Maybe I should just say, “Thank you,” to the person.
Sometimes I try asking the person if they know how to speak English, but usually the response is no, so I think it’s sort of a useless question.
Regardless, it’s really interesting that in Asia, there are usually a lot of salespeople working at shops, especially the large department stores, and it’s not uncommon for there to be more salespeople than shoppers at any given moment. I always find this amazing, and I love that someone is right there to help me if I need it, often following me around the store while I look at things. Of course, this would be infinitely more helpful if I could speak with them and ask questions. Sometimes in the states, it’s difficult to find someone to help you at stores, especially when you actually want to ask a question, so it’s quite luxurious to have a bunch of people waiting around to help you.