That was the question posed to one shopper at the entrance of Louis Vuitton
By Mao Shan Wang
This particular Wednesday evening would have been unremarkable: I was alone and, given the mood Orchard Road had put itself in, was drawn to an urge to shop. I had been store-hopping in ION Orchard, moving from Burberry to Fendi to Saint Laurent to Prada and to—last stop—Louis Vuitton.
At LV, the welcome was so overwhelming that I was not sure, at first, what happened. Approaching the entrance on level one, which was unobstructed except for a suited-up twentysomething sales guy (or doorkeeper, I wasn’t sure), brandishing a well-used tablet and attending to a middle-aged man. I approached the doors and was about to push them open when the young chap stopped me as if this was an intrusion into the Istana.
“Are you looking for someone?” he asked impatiently, minus salutations.
So unexpected that question was, I didn’t know how to answer. What did he mean? I wasn’t there for a job interview. The three-second no-answer from me prompted him to repeat the question, this time, in Mandarin: “你要找人吗?”
“Actually, I am looking for something.” I answered. That was a reasonable and truthful reply.
“Today we only do one-to-one,” he held on, adamant not to allow me entry.
Inside the store, it looked vacant. A few women were seen browsing, but there was no frenzy that suggested limits to entry was necessary for customer comfort and satisfaction.
“What does that mean?” I wanted to be sure. I was burning with curiosity.
“If you have no appointment, you cannot go in.”
Nothing on the store front told me would-be customers’ entry was by appointment only.
“Is this the new policy?” I was genuinely curious.
“This is this store’s policy.”
“Does this mean I can’t go into the store?”
“You have to join the queue,” he said strictly.
“There’s a queue? Where’s the line?” I saw, seconds earlier, a pair of stanchions with the attendant velvet rope between, but no one was behind.
Not saying a word, he gestured, using his face, at the man he was attending to.
“One person is a queue?” I asked cheekily.
“Yes.” He wasn’t letting up.
By now, I have to say annoyance had seized me, and I asked, regrettably with courtesy taking a back seat, “Do you know the meaning of a queue?”
Defiantly, he said: “No!”
Photo: Mao Shan Wang