Are You Being Served?
October 16, 2013

Oh god.  Ok.  I’ll admit, I am in a particularly grumpy mood at the moment.  I don’t know why.  I’m not well, the weather is ruined, I had the best day of my life last week and now all other days don’t seem quite good enough? Who knows? But what I do know is that I am annoyed and today, today I am annoyed at something that has been twanging at my bra straps for years.

My local shop.  I say that as if it’s this quaint lovely local village store, it’s not.  It’s a Sainsburys Local.  Anyway, my local shop is a drive away from my house.  I could probably walk it if I had more time and sometimes, but not very often, I do.  Of course I then curse my stupid self for walking there because I have to carry ten billion heavy bags back and I hadn’t the foresight to consider this.  I don’t know, I kind of feel its hardly local, if you have to drive there.  If I am going to get in my car then I might as well drive to bloody Chichester.  Anyway – the location of my local shop isn’t the problem.  My problem is the choice within the shop.  Who do I go to when it’s time to pay?

I know its unfair to pick on one person.  But it does always seem to be the same awkward looking old woman who is serving whenever I go in.  I have nothing against this woman on a Sunday afternoon when I have a whole day just to laze about in my One Piece and iron and watch Downton Abbey and bake stuff.  It’s the rest of the week I find it an issue.   She asks me the same questions about the amount of chicken drumsticks I buy EVERY SINGLE time I go in.  On a Sunday I don’t mind the repetition of her squawking “OOOH someones having a BBQ?” at me or “OOOH bit rainy for a BBQ”  and occasionally “Not really BBQ weather is it”  I know it shouldn’t annoy me.  I know.  But I just feel if someone is going to talk at me.  Question me about my life.  They at least need to remember who the HELL I am.  You know? If you are going to pretend to be interested then at least do it properly.  I have NEVER in my life BBQ’d a chicken drumstick.  Yuk.  Chicken drumsticks are the devils chicken.  The ONLY place for a chicken bloody drumstick is in KFC.  I never eat in KFC.  I don’t intend to.  They are fiddly food for stupid people.  Why the HELL would you eat a chicken drumstick when you could eat a thigh?  I’m not offended by a bit of leg meat with my Sunday roast.  I think a mix of thigh and leg meat in a pie is a wonderful combination.  But this bloody woman, who is insistent that my purchase of chicken drumsticks its due to some unhealthy obsession with BBQ’ing the stuff quite simply offends me.  And drives me mad.  As you can see.

I feed Archie raw chicken leg and bone.  He’s a big dog.  Therefore he eats a high quantity of legs.  We are talking around 10 per day.  What kind of craziness would it be if I was feeding my family 70 chicken legs a week?  URGHGHH.  I tell her.  Every single time.  Through gritted teeth  “Ha, no no, I don’t BBQ them, they are for my dog”

“Thats lovely dear.  What dog do you have?”

“A German Pointer”

“Oh lovely.  What’s his name”

“Archie” I sigh.

Imagine this same conversation.  Every bloody few days.  She doesn’t care.  I’ve told her my dogs name three times a week for the last year.  IMAGINE that?  This woman has asked me my dogs name 156 times in the last year.  I have TOLD her my dogs name 156 times in the last year.  If she actually gave a monkey’s ball bag about me or my dog then surely, it is reasonable for me to expect she MIGHT actually have remembered?

Who am I kidding?  She doesn’t even look up at me.  I could be Madonna, she wouldn’t notice.  No she would just carry on her terrible scanning.  Which, by the way, leads me on to my next point.  I have to be polite.  She is talking at me.  So I have to answer and I impatiently do.  With a smile.  Laughing at the same old bloody jokes etc etc.  But she also is THE slowest human being ON EARTH.  I don’t know how she got this sodding job.  I mean.  CHRIST.  My son could deliver a more efficient service.  With less stupid questions.

The other alternative to this woman, the speedier alternative, is the self service machine.  No one is ever queueing for them.  I can waltz over and swift scan my stuff like a shopping ninja.  Bam – money in – boosh – I’m outta here.

Except, any of you that have ever used one of these awful, dreadful, miserable marvinesque machines will know that this shopping ninja experience, it is not a reality.  OH GOD it drains the life blood out of me just thinking about it.  I place my basket down and double check the ‘IDIOT BEACON’ above my head.  You know those lights?  Green and Red? They flash red whilst some annoyingly semi well spoken, middle class patronising voice says “Please wait for assistance ……. YOU MORON”   The light is green.  I am good to go.

I carefully scan my shopping, I do this as if I am walking on egg shells, because I know at any moment this volatile machine could yell out “PLACE IT IN YOUR BAG” or “DO YOU NEED SOME ASSISTANCE?” or “GIVE UP.  YOU ARE NOT EVOLVED ENOUGH TO USE THIS MACHINE” all the time illuminating the Idiot Beacon above my head.  Oh god.  The shame.  Seriously, I am a company Director, I work with some of the greatest names in the UK, I CAN DO THIS.  I CAN SCAN SOME SHOPPING.  I have visions of all my mates who funded college by working in Tesco.  How smug I felt that I was running a bar.  And then I think about how smug they would be if they were in the queue behind me, as the idiot beacon is illuminating.  I take a quick annoyed glance over my shoulder.  The man next to me is saying “I HAVE PUT IT INTO THE BAG” He looks intelligent.

It is most certainly the machines here that have the problem.

The idiot beacon has gone off.  I have done something wrong.  It thinks I am stealing something. “Please wait for assistance”  It’s not good enough for it to say this at a volume level we can all hear.  No.  No it picks up its stupid mega phone, turns the volume up to 11 and YELLS IT. I look back – the reason I chose this ‘efficient experience’ is because the queue for the humans was 5 deep and I needed to get in and out like Flash Gordon – all five people in the queue have gone.  There are three new queuers.  I wait, impatiently, as those three new people  are served before one of the humans comes over to press numbers into the machine and tell it how to do its job properly.  I stand there.  Like an idiot.  Full of shame.  Full of anger.

Finally my bag is full.  Finally I can pay.  Except I can’t pay.  I can’t pay because even though I have tried to insert my note all the possible ways you could – apparently it’s still not right.  I have imagined on so many occasions shoving my notes so far in its little note hole that it permanently illuminates its own stupid beacon. Instead I roll my eyes and wait, wait for its inevitable giving in where, after the twenty fifth time it says “Oh, yes, that’s the right way”

I await my change.

I see the old lady on the way out.  Hmmmm.  I shudder.

I’m late.

I can’t bear it.  But I also can’t bear that even though I am a miserable, grumpy, short-tempered cow, I have this horrible side to me that finds certain things sweet.  I don’t mean the machine.  THE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE MACHINE that might not pretend it cares about my life but does ask me a million stupid questions like “Did you bring your own bags?” NO.  No I didn’t.  No one does.  Everyone has these stupid reusable bags but they are NEVER on you when you nip to the stupid shop.  NO!! I do not have my own stupid bags.  The machine will never be sweet.  But the old lady,  annoyingly has the potential.   She is short, short grey hair, old.  She isn’t beautiful.  She isn’t ugly.  I guess she is just old and plain.  She is obviously not at all interested in me.  My life.  But the other month I went in and she had the MOST ridiculous bright blue eye shadow on.  It looked as if she had borrowed a pastel crayon box from a child and just gone at it.  In the dark.

I fell in love with her.

Oh HOW ANNOYING.  Suddenly this ridiculously annoying old lady has won my heart.  I can’t tell you how.  OR why.  But she has.  And now, even though she makes me late.  Even though she doesn’t know how I look.  Or remember my dogs name.  I always go to her.  With a smile.

And then kick the stupid self service machine of hell as I leave.

Anyway.  There you go.

Don’t be a smarty pants and tell me how effortlessly you use those tills.  I won’t believe you, nor will any of my readers.


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