There are extroverts, and then there are extroverts.
The first kind are your ordinary, run-of-the-mill energy vampires, the ones who know everyone and his beta fish but still always zero in on you and your 2% social battery. They think they’re being friendly and inclusive, but you know the truth.
Partying vampires are leeches, though, in comparison with the deadly species of extrovert lurking down every aisle of your local Target or Ace Hardware—the infamous sales associate.
You’re slinking down between rows of shelves. Your five-minute mission—I mean thyme is of the essence here—to grab an herb preserver before the mad pre-Thanksgiving rush begins. Of course, they’re not in their usual aisle; with a grumble you whisk down to the area of crockpots (buy one here!) and other kitchen utensils, looking over your shoulder every other second. There you see the glossy white plastic preserver, glinting like a star anise. You reach out to grab it, and then—
“Can I help you?”
The adrenaline kicks in. “NO!” you scream. With a roundhouse kick you lay out the guy flat on his back before leaping over him and sprinting for the cash register. But he’s more resilient than you realized. In a flash he’s back up and running after you. “We have a great sale on yard ornaments! Do you need any dill or fennel seed? Fifty percent off all horseradish!”
You’re almost to the self-checkout. Just a little farther.
“I can push your cart for you—the clearance aisle’s just over here! Buy one lemon lip balm, get one free!” Heart pounding, arms flailing.
“I can show you the world, shining, shimmering—”
You blink. You’re still standing at the shelf. The associate is staring at you with a blinding smile, blissfully unaware of how close he came to bodily harm. “Can I help you?” he asks again.
You shake your head, mutter something polite. He melts into the shelves to wait for his next victim, and you trudge toward the front of the store. About five hundred more associates accost you on your way—friendly neighborhood vultures sensing your earlier defeat and subsequent vulnerability—and your five-minute mission turns into the unluckiest of unthymely tours.
Finally, laden with raisins and wrapping paper and pickles and peppermint sticks, you exit the store. The associate at your elbow fits your bags into your car trunk very neatly; the store requires its employees to rank among the top hundred Tetris players in the world, in addition to never sleeping or paying attention to basic social cues.
It’s not till you get home (and eject another two associates from beneath the back seat) that you realize:
You forgot the herb preserver.
(Don’t be as unlucky as this poor soul! Buy your herb preserver today.)