Friday, 9 November 2007

Middle Aged Moan

Why are so many people who work in shops so rude? Why? Why is that?

Have they always been so rude? Or have all the rude retail staff in the UK recently come to work in my local shops?

Today, I was in a shop to buy some milk. When I entered the shop, the woman behind the counter was on her mobile, to someone who may or may not have been on the council, to complain about a youth shelter that may or may not be being built. I know this because that was the conversation she was having right in front of me while I stood there at the counter glaring at her, and waiting for the privilege of paying her for my milk.

Eventually, after quite sustained glaring on my part, she said "Excuse me" and then apologised - to the person on the phone - and served me. That consisted of her saying "£1.30" (or whatever it was) and holding her hand out, whilst with the other hand she picked up her mobile again and resumed her conversation.

Sorry, what part of "I'm not doing you a favour by patronising your establishment, I am actually one of a special group of personages known as 'customers', who pay your wages and without whom you'd be out of business" do shop staff in my locality not understand?

I play a game now, each time I go to the supermarket. It's called "Guess how long it takes the check-out operator to speak to me?" (I'm working on a snappier title). Occasionally, the person behind the uniform will speak before he or she starts swiping my shopping through the scanner, at least to greet the customer before asking me for money. More usually though lately, I have found that I am completely ignored until the time comes to demand currency in exchange for the goods. And I say 'demand' rather than 'request' because the omission of any polite 'please' makes it so. In fact, next time perhaps I will extend the game and only answer actual questions or requests put to me. The words "nineteen fifty-four" don't actually constitute a request for me to pay that amount, they merely describe the total of my purchases. Or at least, I assume they do. For all I know, those words could be informing me of the check-out operator's year of birth. Or a guess at mine. Those figures could be the latest rugby score, or the the ages of the check-out operator's previous boyfriends (well, you never know with people, do you?) Next time, perhaps I shall say "What about it?" in am equally sullen manner to the person serving me, and then stand there and ignore them for 10 minutes and see how they like it. I would go and shop somewhere else, if somewhere else around here employed any cheerier, better mannered staff.

Perhaps I should apply for a job myself. Then I too could spend all day taking pointless phone calls and and getting paid for being rude to people. From the job description, it must be very similar to being Chris Moyles.

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