Battle For Gift

Armei: “Every long term customer can choose a free gift pack for 2021. Pammy, the biggest gift pack is for you.”

Armei is the shop assistant of a popular cosmetic store in Edison, New Jersey, which sells Asian cosmetic items. It used to specialize in Shiseido, the overpriced Japanese brand, but in recent years, due to the fierce competition from South Korea, Shiseido’s presence in the store has dwindled to an insignificant corner while The Face Shop, Innisfree, IOPE took over with conspicuous displays.

Pammy, Armei, and Lulu are best friends who come to gather at Armei’s cosmetic store once every week. Ostensibly, this is just for friendly talks, but so far Armei has been able to recruit Pammy as the VIP customer willingly spending more than four hundred dollars a year, and Lulu as the unwilling long term customer of small purchases here and there.

Pammy: “Great. All these goodies. I repackage them to give to my real estate customers.”

Lulu:”My gift pack is too small in comparison.”

Suddenly, somebody burst into the store as a gust of wind. She’s not tall, delicate in features, black hair so numerous that the hair clip could hardly hold up.

“I don’t like to complain and I usually don’t complain, but if I never complain, I’m never pitied. I know you are counting on me to never complain, but I have no wish to behave in the way you want me to. No, not today. You think I really don’t know what you are doing? You singled me out to be overlooked and despised? I am not qualified for the gift. How could you say so? Are these two qualified for gifts, but not me?”

The woman stared at Armei, who’s too shocked to respond. The woman then scowled at Pammy and Lulu, Pammy instinctively and clumsily trying to stuff her gift pack under her coat, Lulu looking rather amused at the situation. The woman continued her tirade.

“I’ve been a customer for years, and this is the way you treat me. Is it because I am shorter than you? It is unfair that this world only acknowledge tall people. Short people like me are overlooked everywhere, even in receiving gift packs. I really don’t want your gift packs. You know how many stores and companies want to give me gift packs back home? They begged me to receive them but I wouldn’t even hear them. My maid was the one who would deal with these beggars.”

She saw a parade of bottled spring water on the counter for valued customers, and she grabbed one, drinking several gulps before continuing her monologue.

“Is it because I work in the Asian Mart? I know it is. Every day I cut away bad leaves to make vegetable look fresh in the vegetable station. I see every customer walking by, but you never look at me. You think you are above me, right? You think I don’t have a heart. You think I don’t feel your indifference and your contempt. I want to throw my cabbage at you. Yes, all of you.”

She threw the empty water bottle at Armei, who turned to the side to avoid a collision. Then the woman grabbed a gift pack from the counter, which is the one Armei laid out for Lulu, and ran out of the store.

Two minutes pass before Pammy finally says, “What is that all about? Didn’t you give her a gift pack? Armei, why didn’t you?”

Armei said, “she only spent $50 last year and don’t deserve a gift.”

Lulu said, “I spent $50 too, but you want to give me …”

Armei said, “You are my friend and that’s my favor to you.”

Lulu said, “Never mind. It’s good that she grabbed your favor and ran. I don’t need cosmetics. I only buy them to please you, Armei.”

Armei said, “Do you know who she is? Her husband is the most respected surgeon in the biggest city of Myanmar. They have a big house, servants and everything. But they don’t really make much money there. Her relatives have been living in New York for two generations. So she convinced her husband to immigrate with her relatives’ sponsorship, not knowing that her husband couldn’t become a surgeon here. They fell on hard times. They don’t speak much English and can’t find a good job.”

Pammy said, “Oh, poor lady. This must be hard for her. I mean she used to be so respected, no need to work for a living. Now she’s working for minimum wage.”

Lulu said, “What are you saying? Respected people don’t have to work for a living? So you only respect people who are social parasites?”

Pammy said, “Lulu, you are stretching my words.”

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