Madame Rhinoceros

Madame Rhinoceros collage shadow box I made, oh, err 2004? Look, sequins!
Yesterday I found myself killing time in the cosmetics section at an upscale department store. I don’t generally loiter among the lipstick but I was early for lunch with a friend and was running low on mascara.
Ten minutes in, a chipper young sales clerk with a dolphin tattoo successfully deployed a sales technique that I learned years ago while training for my first retail job. I’m sure there are lots of variations on the technique but I know it as CCI (Compliment, Comment, Introduce).

   Step 1. Clerk compliments the Customer = Customer feels good.
   Step 2. Clerk comments on the Customer = Customer feels insecure.
   Step 3. Clerk introduces a product = Customer buys it.

The basic concept is that if you can make a woman feel insecure in a “friendly” way, she will buy anything. I wish I could tell you that the technique is wrong and it never works and we are all too smart for that…but alas, sadly, it works all the time. We are a manipulative bunch. Yesterday, the conversation went something like this:

   Clerk:  “Oh my you have such lovely skin!”
   Customer: “Well thank you very much. I try my best.”
   Clerk:  “You know, you have such unique coloring. I can see how it would be difficult finding the right color pencil to tame those brows. Have you tried one of these?”
    Customer slumps her shoulders, lifts right hand to eyebrows to smooth them out while left hand reaches for the pencil.

Five minutes later, Customer walks out with one eyebrow pencil, three eye shadows, foundation primer and countless packets of product samples.

Thing is, Customer went in looking for mascara.

Oh dear me, I feel just like Madame Rhinoceros!

Madame Rhinoceros and Her Dress
From Aesop’s Fables by Arnold Lobel

Madame Rhinoceros saw a dress in the window of a shop. It was covered with polka dots and flowers. It was adorned with ribbons and lace. She admired it for a moment and then entered the shop.
“That dress in the window,” said Madame Rhinoceros to a salesperson, “I would like to try it on.”
Madame Rhinoceros put on the dress. She looked at herself in the mirror. “I do not think this dress is at all attractive on me,” she said.
“But Madame,” said the salesperson, “you are completely wrong. This dress makes you look glamorous and alluring.”
“If only I were sure,” said Madame Rhinoceros.
“Ah, Madame,” said the salesperson, “everyone who sees you wearing this dress will be filled with
admiration and envy.”
“Do you really think so?” asked Madame Rhinoceros, turning around and around in front of the mirror.
“Absolutely,” said the salesperson. “You have my word.”
“Very well,” said Madame Rhinoceros, “I will buy the dress, and I will wear it now.”
Madame Rhinoceros left the shop. As she walked up the avenue, she saw that people were smiling and laughing at her.
“Admiration,” thought Madame Rhinoceros.
She saw some people who were shaking their heads and frowning.
“Envy,” thought Madame Rhinoceros.
She continued up the avenue. Everyone who saw her stopped and stared. Madame Rhinoceros felt more glamorous and alluring with every step.



  1. Jills says

    hahahaha! I had nearly forgotten about our old friend Madame Rhinoceros! And don’t feel bad about the makeup -I got suckered into buying a whole house because the real estate agent made us feel insecure about our old one. It could be worse!

  2. says

    Salesperson approaches Rhino. “I see you have your eyes on this, good choice!” Rhino: “yeah, well, I really don’t need any help, thank you, darling”, Salesperson leaves stage.
    Rhino is VERY abrupt, probably offensive and maybe a hint antisocial, but Rhino doesn’t spend a pence more than intended (unless something comes with a Snoopy and Woodstock printed on it, but that’s guerilla tactics and unavoidable)
    Rhino works in customer service and doesn’t really believe in the basics. Plus, Salesperson would have a hard time complimenting Rhino on her scruffy Viking Metal shirt, army jacket and leopard patterned Doc Martens. What the hell is an eyebrow pencil?

    Love your post. From the bottom of my hidden sequinned heart.

  3. says

    Ah…..a truly original and well thought post. Thank you. The comments left were also good.

  4. says

    LOVE IT!! You made me laugh and smile this morning and I’m sure that will happen to others. Didn’t realize the CCI, but will try to recognize it next time I go to the store.

    I worked in customer service, the repair component, so my husband and I laugh when we say what they AUGHT to do….of course, we don’t yell and scream when we don’t get our way. We’ve been there.

  5. says

    I don’t think I’ve heard the Madame Rhinoceros story before. It is so true! Fortunately for me, if someone tried to pull that trick on me, I’m so sensitive that I just get ticked off and walk away!

    Maybe you can use the eyebrow pencils to draw a new sketch of Madame Rhinoceros…take that salesperson!

  6. says

    Your Madame R is so beautiful! And dahling, haven’t you heard that untamed eyebrows are IN?

    That is a sneaky technique, thanks for tipping me off.

  7. Anonymous says

    That is charming. Too bad I couldn’t read the story – I don’t have the patience to read vertically. :-/ But it looks very nice. 🙂

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