Tuesday, 13 September 2011

226: Lord of the Manner

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

I thought I was going to be a bastard this morning. That bastard I mentioned there, who swans into the Spar at 07:55, paying for a token low-end purchase with a note, purely to get change to use elsewhere. Instead, I realised that I'm actually part of the aristocracy.

I needed change, and only had a £10 note. It's not absolute bastard level behaviour, but having worked in retail I know how annoying it is (yes, I am empathetic, despite what you may have thought after reading last week's post. Or this week's post).

So, to avoid some sort of remake of last week's performance, (which I was sure would lead to me unleashing my full pedantic fury, should it happen again) I'd checked that my £10 was legal, UK tender. All good. This currency in my hand was worth exactly one hundred times that coin, which had caused umbrage seven days ago, and I had every legal and moral right to spend it as I saw fit.

I entered the vendor's establishment at my local railway station, prepared to steadfastly defend my honour and my purchase of a pint of milk. And a Mars Bar and a Bounty. What?

As per last week, I shall be played by Me, and the Spar Lady shall be portrayed by SL. ALTHOUGH I should point out now that the Spar Lady isn't the one who served me last week.

Me: Just those three, please.

SL: That's two pounds and three, please.*1

I hand over the money. If anything's going to happen, it's going to be now.

SL: Thank you. Would you like a bag?

Me: No, I'm fine thanks.

SL: Okay, that's seven ninety seven change.

Me: Brilliant, thank you.

SL: Is there anything else I can do for you today?

Me: ...no, that's great thanks. Bye.

SL: Bye.

Now that may seem like exactly the kind of verbal exchange you want in that situation, and on the surface I'd be inclined to agree. But at no point did the sales assistant act in a cheerful, breezy manner to accompany this banter. In fact, she played a deadpan performance, throughout. If I was a cynical person (...yeah), I'd call it borderline sarcastic.

Fortunately, as with last week, my powers of reasoning and rapier wit are just beginning to fire up at that time of the morning. Because of this, I didn't rise to the bait laid down by the shop assistant.
Otherwise, the situation could have been a bit different...

Cue flashback wobbly transitional effect and harp music.

SL: Thank you. Would you like a bag?

Me: No, I'm fine thanks.

SL: Okay, that's seven ninety seven change.

Me: Brilliant, thank you.

SL: Is there anything else I can do for you today?

Me: ...well, my carriage is outside, perhaps you could see my horse into your stables for the night? My driver will need accomodation, too.

SL: Pardon?

Me: Well, I appear to be some Lord of the Manor, flashing around the kind of currency that, far from frustrating you at the reduction of the amount of change you carry, has actually stunned you into subserviance! You view this ten pound note, bearing the stiking image of our monarch, and immediately realise your station in life; to wit, that it is several steps below my own. Well done.

SL: Er, I was only being polite.

Me: Well you say that, but you haven't furnished the same level of courtesy on anyone else in the queue. If anything, your manner with them has been somewhat surly. And although the tone in your voice and your general expression hasn't changed since I arrived at the head of the queue, your words themselves are suddenly quite, quite different.

SL: Look, you're holding the line up...

Me: No-one else in this establishment has served me in this most courteous fashion, and I can't help but wonder what has incurred the change in direction with the Spar corporation's Customer Service Procedure. Has this come down from your superiors, I wonder? Or is it just the first time you've seen a banknote of this large a denomination?

SL: Why are you being like this?

Me: Why are YOU being like this? If you're going to be polite, then do it properly by all means, but you have to do the actions as well as the words. Your demeanour this morning smacks of insincerity, madam. While I myself may not be chirpy and delightful, you can be sure that what you are seeing is an accurate representation of my state of mind, and that I can still execute politeness without being sanctimonious.

SL: Okay look, I was being a bit sarcastic because you were paying with a note.

Me: HA! I fucking KNEW it.

SL: It's just something we do in here to pass the time, although I suspect most checkout workers do this.

Me: But surely you must spend most of every morning doing it? At this time of the day, that's what most of your custom is: people wanting change.

SL: ...well, yes...

Me: And yet, I'm not buying a 25p paper, or a 60p pack of chewing gum. I'm spending over two pounds, and you have the temerity, the sheer fucking brass neck, to act as if I'm an inconvenience? The very NATURE of you store is convenience. THAT IS WHY YOU ARE EMPLOYED HERE.

SL: ...we don't have a lot of change...

Me: I beg your fucking pardon? I thought this was a shop. You don't hear a decorator complaining that he doesn't have a lot of paint, do you? I fucking tried to play your game last week by purchasing goods with change, and look where that got me: a disinterested shop assistant and an imaginary fucking argument on the legality of Crown Dependency currency. So today I thought, 'fuck it, I'll be like everyone else, at least then I won't draw irregular flak', but no. You really make this song and fucking dance over everyone who pays with a note, do you? You must be knackered at the end of your shift.

SL: ...we don't have a lot of change...

Me: Fuck your fucking change. This isn't about the change, it's about your bizarre fucking attitude. If you went the extra mile and put a smile on your face while you were trotting out your pleasantries, you might actually convince your half-awake customers that you give a shit. Some would undoubtedly be cheered up by your sunny disposition, and even make a mental note as to the positive transaction experience they'd received in-store. The other retail outlets in the station all pretend to be fucking happy, why can't you?

SL: Why don't you go there to get change then?

Me: Because they're coffee/newspaper vendors, I came here to get fucking milk, didn't I?

SL: You're getting quite worked up now, aren't you?

Me: Yes. Yes, I fucking am. I told you this would happen if I got a second crack at the scenario with the benefit of afterthought. This is precisely why time-travel is a bad idea.

SL: ...do you have a time machine?

Me: No. If I had a time machine, do you think I'd be in a shop buying milk at 07:55?

SL: I don't want to get into a discussion about time travel. It'd be off-topic for one thing.

Me: I know what you're saying, but as usual, readers have probably skipped over this bit.

SL: To see the resolution of the conversation?

Me: Exactly. Although as this is going to be the resolution, this is the bit they'll be reading, and it won't make any sense following the earlier diatribes.

SL: They'll have to scroll back up and read the whole thing then, won't they?

Me: Pretty much.

SL: So have you calmed down, now?

Me: Has your attitude towards the people who effectively pay your wages changed?

SL: ...not really.

Me: Then no. By feigning politeness, you're being impolite. But you knew that. And now I'm late for work.

So why the different attitude when I'm being served?

One thing that could have cause this level of awareness, would be if someone at Spar Head Office had stumbled across my previous blog entry, perhaps by idly typing 'Spar Milk 10p Isle of Man'*2 into Google one lunchtime, perhaps as part of a bet that no results would be forthcoming. After reading the entry, maybe it was circulated to all registered franchisees as a warning? Maybe the staff of my nearest outlet read this in cold horror, and as the penny dropped, replayed their security footage with a tearful checkout assistant shaking in the corner, re-living the scarring moment again...

Although the number of hits my blog's had would suggest otherwise.
Which means they probably printed it off and faxed it round.

This has got way more rambly than I originally envisioned it.

*1 Yeah, over two quid for two chocolate bars and a pint of milk. And yet this isn't even the issue. I know, I know.
*2 This works, I've tried it.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

No comments:

Post a Comment