Friday, 29 November 2013

The Way We Live Now (2), or Never Ask How, Only Why

Another supermarket just yesterday, but it wasn’t Tesco’s. It could just as well have been another organisation, though - let me see now  ... your local council, for instance? I should warn you that this has a happy ending.

Lady at the ‘Baskets Only’ till: “I’m sorry, Sir, but you’re not a basket.”

Hang on, let’s start that again. Bloody pikeys.


Lady at the ‘Baskets Only’ till: “That’ll be £1.78, Sir. Would you like help packing?”

Myself: “I beg your pardon?”

The Lady: “Would you like any help to pack your groceries?”

I look carefully at what I have bought.

After a while: “No ... no, it’s just two small bags of lemons. I think I can manage.”

I lean against the counter for a short while, breathing as deeply and as evenly – and, indeed, as crisply – as I can. A late autumn fly dances the dance of love and death among the late autumn corporate Christmas decorations.

Myself: “Excuse me, but may I ask you why you asked me if I needed any help packing a total of 8 lemons?”

The Lady: “Our manager says that we have to ask everyone that, however little they buy.” She gurns conspiratorially.

Myself: “So the manager of a flagship branch of one of the most ruthless retail empires on the planet asks its employees either to take time away from serving customers or to call another member of staff away from whatever carefully planned and rationalised task they are supposed to be doing in order to help a physically able man pack 8 lemons in a bag?”

The Lady: “Yes. I did ask him why but he said we just have to do it. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? But I did ask.”

Myself: “Madam, you are a heroine, the golden leaf that fell at the flutter of a butterfly's wing in that northern forest!”

The Lady: "Enough of your sauce, young man!"

More conspiratorial gurnings, this time shared. There is hope after all.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks to Jan Greenwood for this:

    Too inept to insert a profile (apparently), I rise to the challenge here instead: Client in call to Customer Service at a local newspaper: I would like to suggest that no further efforts are expended in [actually, not] delivering your daily newspaper to my house.

    CS: What would be appear to be the trouble?

    C: You may recall that over the last few months you and I have enjoyed several pleasant telephone conversations on the subject of how your delivery person manages to deliver only about 1 in 10 or 15 papers. In fact, I haven't seen your newspaper once during the last three weeks.

    CS: I am very sorry to hear that. I have spoken personally to the delivery person who assured me that the paper would be delivered. And it hasn't been?

    C: Well, not recently. Occasionally, I have in the past found one soaking wet under a shrub, or retrieved one from the sidewalk in similar state. But, no, not recently.

    CS: Well, I am really, really sorry. Would you like me to talk to the delivery person again?

    C: Well, thank you, but I think it is time to admit that I don't miss the paper and your efforts would be better directed elsewhere. Perhaps we could leave it at that.

    CS: Your subscription is still valid and your account has $11 remaining. Are you sure you wouldn't like us to try again?

    C: No, thank you. By all means you can reimburse me the $11 at your leisure, but I think we will leave it at that.

    CS: I'm afraid we won't be able to reimburse you the $11. You will be receiving an invoice of $21 (or thereabouts).

    C: I beg your pardon?! You just told me that I still had $11 in my account. Why would you be invoicing me more than twice that?

    CS: It's policy, our standard amount, whenever a customer cancels a contract before the end of the subscription.

    C: Let me get this right. You are going to charge me $21, actually $32, because I am cancelling a subscription for a newspaper you can't deliver?

    CS: Yes. (I swear).

    C: If I'm not very much mistaken, you are the ones who have broken the agreement implied by any contract insofar as you appear unable to deliver the product. Does that sound about right?

    CS: Well, yes, but this is policy. I can see why it mightn't make sense to you.

    C: You are right there, so let me offer you this to ponder: if you invoice me for cancelling a contract you could not fulfill in the first place, I will find it necessary to report this in a letter to the editor - and not to your paper, but one with a much larger circulation.

    CS: (Long pause). I think I see what you mean. We will reimburse you the $11 still in your account. (A cheque arrived the next day).