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Nina In New York: We Need To Talk About Peer Pressure

(/file - credit: Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

(/file – credit: Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
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By Nina Pajak

You know that famous scene in Pretty Woman in which Julia Roberts is shamed out of a Beverly Hills store because she looks like a cheap hooker? Then she comes back dressed to the nines, carrying thousands of dollars worth of clothing from a competitor, just to tell the snotty sales associates what a huge mistake they’d made in judging her. It’s one of the greatest and most satisfying moments in the history of films I’ve seen, which tallies around thirty.

It’s affecting not only because we’re rooting for Vivian and against the snobbish dummies who underestimated the purchasing power of the john who is both paying and falling for her, but because so many of us have been there. OK, maybe not exactly there. But if you’ve ever walked into an expensive store and chosen to behave like a normal Earth human who considers price and value when making a purchase, chances are you’ve gotten that withering look or curt attitude that made you want to leave immediately and go spend your hard-won extended credit line elsewhere.

Or . . . it made you buy a bunch of stuff from the a-hole making you feel like an a-hole so that she’ll think you’re cool?

According to a new study, snooty salespeople tend to make shoppers want to spend in order to feel like they fit in. It also makes them want to smoke a cigarette, do five jello shots, shoplift in front of all the popular girls, make out with the captain of the football team even though he’s a total jerk, say something nasty to the class nerd, and jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.

This is very sad. Were they mainly polling middle and high school students? Perhaps people who recently watched Mean Girls, or maybe people who haven’t watched Mean Girls enough?

If the results are to be believed, I fear that this study will give salespeople the wrong idea. The American shopping populace must correct course. Here’s a tip: people who work in stores (even the chi-chi ones) are normal people who have to work retail to make a living. It’s an honest wage and there’s nothing wrong with it, but they’re not exactly closing up shop every night to go clubbing with Jay and Bey and the rest of the city’s A-list. They’re just people. I bet lots of them live in walk-ups and take the subway. In other words, without their employee discounts, they can’t afford this crap either. Relax. Walk with confidence, like you do when you enter a fancy hotel in order to use the lobby bathroom. Regard their wares with vague disinterest, and decline to purchase because the items fail to impress. If someone gives you the stink eye, you hit ‘em right back with a look that says: “I’ve got your number. See you at TJ Maxx, fool.”

On a similar note, Cornell University researchers released a little study that revealed that diners enjoy their food more when it costs twice as much to eat it. This stands to reason. See also: 80% of the restaurants in NYC. See also: Le Bernardin. I’m sorry, I’m saying it. If this makes me a philistine, so be it. The food may well be superbly prepared and refined and delicious, but I’ve never spent so much to wind up so hungry. Nothing like dropping a paycheck on dinner only to chase it with a slice of pizza on the walk home.

You guys, I’m really worried about our collective self esteem. Say it with me: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”

Nina Pajak is a writer living with her husband, daughter and dog in Queens. Connect with Nina on Twitter!