Joe’s Crow Country

SOMETIMES intended politeness can end up being a patronising insult. Perfectly pleasant people, who are only trying to help, can often be more infuriating that those who choose not to bother.

Let me explain. I was in another town at the weekend visiting a mate I hadn’t seen for a while, and we decided to do a bit of shopping.

After some browsing we went into a large chain shop, and I saw a shirt that I liked. It was cheap enough for me to afford so I went and tried it on. I asked an employee where the changing room was.

This is a question that should be answered with something like “it’s just over there.” I would have been perfectly happy with that. But the shop was empty, and the employee was bored.

Instead, she chirpily said “can you follow me?” Weird, I thought. I can follow her, but do I need to? How far away can the changing rooms be? Do I need special permission, a password, a sat-nav?

It turns out I didn’t. She led me up to the changing rooms, which were about 30 steps away and clearly visible from where we had come from. I felt a bit uncomfortable following her around like she was my chaperone.

“This is where you can try it on, when you have finished just hang your clothes here if you don’t want them, or take them up to the till and purchase them,” she said. Without this vital information, I’m not completely sure I would have managed to navigate my way round the complex maze that was the changing rooms.

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She should presume that everybody knows how a changing room works, even if she thinks I look stupid. Fair enough though, she’s probably just keen.

I tried some clothes on, liked them, and took them up to the till. This shop was so ridiculously over-staffed, they had a young lad standing next to the tills instructing shoppers where to stand and where to move. It was like going through customs. I was the only one in the ‘queue.’

As I approached I noticed there were no cashiers. The young lad put in charge of the ‘queue’ put his arm out in front of me and told me to wait, as if I was going to go up to the till and try and work it myself.

When someone came to the till, he said “would you like to make your way to the till now sir?” Again, he’s being nice enough, but I am aware of the procedure.

I also have a slight issue with the phrase ‘make my way’ to the till. There is only one way to get to the till, and that is by taking three straight steps forward. Making my way to the till suggests there are a number of diversions available, each encountering a number of challenges in order to get there.

Anyway anyway, I somehow found the till, and asked the cashier if I could pay partly in cash and partly on my card. She said I could.

This item cost ten pounds. I had five pounds in cash. I gave her the cash and she said, “Ok, I’ll put that in the till for you, and its five pounds off your card.” She did the maths for me. I’m sure I don’t look that stupid.

She then went on to guide me through the rest of the process, as if she was making a training video for a toddler. “I’ll put your items in the bag with your receipts. Keep hold of them in case there are any faults or if you are unhappy with the item, then you can bring it back.”

It was at this point I tried some sarcasm. “So if I decide I don’t want this, I bring it back in, with the receipt, and I can change it or have my money back?”

“Yes you can sir,” she said, completely seriously. Tough crowd.

“And how do I get out of the shop? Walk towards the door, using the floor and my legs, and apply pressure on the door and walk out?”

She then realised I was being rude. But so was she. I ‘made my way’ out of the shop without help.