Monday, 27 October 2008

Am I being unreasonable?

So I'm at work, and I'm on my own. An irony is that it's easier for me to have a swift cigarette (5mins) (and yes, sorry again) than go to the loo (25 seconds) - having a cigarette means waiting till the shop's empty, then standing outside. I can see people come in, I can hastily fling my smouldering dog-end down the drain in the gutter in front of me (don't worry, full of water), and rush in to be helpful or well-informed or whateverrrr. Going to the loo is another matter, as the loo is out at the back of the shop, which means I have to hope nobody comes in (while I am soundproofed behind two doors) and shoplifts/robs the till. AAAAAAAnyway. So, after 20 minutes of no customers (which is why I have time to write this!) I race out the back, and on my return find a woman standing accusingly at the till.


"There wasn't anybody to serve me!" she says crossly, having been waiting all of 10 seconds.


"I'm sorry," I say, "I'm on my own today. How can I help?"


"Can you tell me where Brookford Road is? "


"I'm afraid not, I don't live round here. Maybe if you ask in the café next door?"


"Don't you have an A to Z?"


"Yes, downstairs in the travel section."


"I don't do stairs." she says crossly, glares at me, heaves a heavy wounded sigh at my unhelpfulness, and leaves before I have a chance to say anything (or even offer to fetch her an A to Z she won't be buying, just cracking the spine and leaving).


Now IS IT JUST ME or is that fairly unreasonable behaviour? We're a bookshop, not a tourist bureau - and while I sort of understand what makes people think that libraries are a place where, to paraphrase Robert Frost, when you go there they have to take you in (untrue and unfair though that is to libraries), where's the logic with bookshops? Is it a backhanded compliment ("You're a temple of intellect and information, so your priorities can't be anything so vulgar as making money")? Or what?? And even if she hoped that I (the person, not the bookseller) might personally know where Brookford Road was, why get grumpy with me for not knowing?


Sorry, not enough coffee.

24 comments:

Steve said...

She doesn't do stairs? Doesn't do stairs? What was she - a darlek? Was she hoping you'd fireman's lift her down to the lower floor? Personally I'd favour the old drop-kick with extra points for a painful landing... you could point out the medical / health section on her way down.

Steerforth said...

I used to run an independent bookshop - usually on my own - and had the same problem with going to the loo.

I remember waiting ages for the one customer in the shop to go. Invariably, the moment they decided to leave another one would replace them, as if they were working to some sort of rota.

Being a man, it was easy for me to get it all over and done with in under 15 seconds, but people still managed to complain about how long they'd been waiting.

JonathanM said...

I lock the door. And put up the Neighbourhood Witch sign.

Sarah said...

Of course you are being unreasonable!

I have a real life job where I have to deal with members of the public. It never ceases to amaze me how rude they can be in shops of any kind. They seem to develop an equivalent of 'road rage', but shop-like..lol

I have witnessed people shoving and hitting each other at checkouts, seen ladies pay for expensive items with bags of coins, and expect the assistant to accept it.. they adopt an 'I pay your wages' mentality.

I have had people being really awkward with me because they are searching for something which is out of stock, and refuse to believe you can't find 'one in the back somewhere'...

So, yes, you were entirely in the wrong and she is a lovely person who YOU rubbed up the wrong way simply by the fact you were on the other side of the counter!

ha ha !

Rol said...

That's ridiculous. Almost as much as the client who told me today that she didn't want the word "special" in her script, because that was a word that ANYBODY could use. I'm waiting for her to tell me which words have been allocated for her use only.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Steve - I suspect her usual mode of purchase is the smarmy obsequious Harrod's type, complete with fawning and a flunkey to carry her basket. I'm more than happy to negotiate stairs for the genuinely unable, but I KNEW she was only going to look at the A-Z and leave it....

Steerforth - I generally wait until a customer I know is in (if I can cross my legs that long!) and then say "I'll just be a minute..", hoping they'll loiter enough to scare off any opportunists. Luckily our real regulars are quite good for that.

Jonathan - I have resorted to the "Gone To Post Office Back 5 Mins" sign, but I had to get a sandwich. Saw two disgruntled customers while I was standing in the queue at the deli. Busted...

Sarah - Yes! Given that something like 70% of us work in some form of customer service, I can't believe how rude most people are. I have spent my life perfecting the "Are you REALLY going to try to tell me how to spell Nietzsche??" raised eyebrow, though. It usually works. When I did a lot of bar work my revenge on the (invariably) man who waved a £20 note without even looking at me was to give him his change in 50ps...

Rol - Did she give you a list??? Try adding "needs" and seeing if she gets the message...

Lucy Fishwife said...

OH MY GOD as if to prove my point (thanks, Karma) I've just had a woman in who not only swore blind that I'd promised her faithfully that her book would be here today BUT ALSO wasn't going to leave until she'd made me say Sorry. I was somewhat helped by the fact that I know it wasn't me (tall, red hair) but my colleague Isla (short, brown hair) she spoke to. I gave her the chance to squirm uncomfortably before granting her a lordly "Sorry about that but it IS best to wait till we ring you"...

mantua maker said...

I get quite a few requests to make jackets, skirts, tops etc - but it always amazes me how people don't really know what they want when they ask for a quotation eg. what style, what fabric...basic things like that. One day I'll write a book about the funny things people coming out with during fittings (eg. the woman with button-phobia), I'll have to change the names though.

EmmaK said...

The woman was rude and I'm afraid I would have been tempted to just give her some false directions...to tell her to take a long and elaborate journey via tube to Cockfosters maybe!

The Sagittarian said...

I know what you mean, we often get phone calls for others in our buidling. I don't know why people can find our number but not the one they really want...anyway, they do get rude and antsy if we say sorry we don't actually know the number of that place. They then say, well you're in the same building..can you put me through?" Like, WTF? Telephone directory I am not, with damn good reason.

lady jicky said...

What a bitch. Lets hope she gets "caught short" sometime in the future!

Deirdre said...

people eh?....drive you mad...

Anonymous said...

She's an idiot. So was idiotic customer #2.

Sigh...they're everywhere.

I answered my phone a work the other day: Me: "City of X, Accounting Department, may I help you?"

Her: "Accounting Department? I don't want the Accounting Department!"

Me: "I'd be happy to transfer you if you'll tell me what department you were trying to reach."

Her: "What business is it of yours what department I'm trying to reach?!"

Sigh.....

ScentScelf said...

I, ah, erm...

(...there really IS something I want to say...oh, the PRESSURE of your subtitle...

...did you really have to subtitle your comment header, anyway? Were you actually expecting a comment here?)

[there. now you have an obnoxious blog fan, too. ;) ]
[[yes, that customer was quite so]]
[[[quite enjoyed Anonymous' contribution to the mix]]]

Brother Tobias said...

Impossible woman! But it must take such a rare, in-growing self-absorption to be that impressively impossible that you have to admire her. She's like a walking improvisation. Let's face it, she's clearly very good at what she does (annoying people), and not all of us can say that...

Lucy Fishwife said...

MM - Button phobia?? What is she, Amish?

Emmak - yes, or that tube station whose name ends in "Off"...

Sag / Anon - It's as bad as the people who get annoyed with you for being the wrong number they dialled... someone once rang me by mistake at home and asked me to look up their intended target in the phone book!!! Uh, NO.

Lady Jicky - ha ha HAAA and we won't let her use the toilet. It'll be permanently out of order I think.

Deirdre - *sigh* the joys of retail...

Scentself - I have just made you a cup of coffee. Sit down, pet, and gather your thoughts... xx

BT - I may institute Obnoxiousness Awards. You're right, it does deserve some kind of gong...

mantua maker said...

"Koumpounophobia" - button phobia, no I'd never heard of either, until I was fitting a jacket on a woman and showed her a selection of sample buttons - I could have had spiders in my hand from her reaction. I was laughing a lot at first, I'm afraid to say, before I realised that she was really very upset.

Lucy Fishwife said...

I'm sorry, I'm laughing too much to feel sorry for her. Spiders and scorpions I can understand, even clowns, but BUTTONS? Was she attacked by a Pearly King at an impressionable age?

Perfumeshrine said...

It's the "I don't do stairs" line that slays me, LOL!
"Thanks, I don't do coke" "Oh, thank you, very dishy, but I don't do swinging". "I'm sorry I don't do meat, I'm allergic to animal protein". On the same level, I'd wager? ;-P

I would surmiss this was a creature honed, with little dog in tow, manicured to an inche of her life with a sour grimace due to too much abstinance from bodily joys and toils because hey, she doesn't do those!!


Customner #2 sounds idiotic as well. OK, we all have our problems, but make sure the one who hears the complain is the one deserving it (somewhat).

Lucy Fishwife said...

LMFAO at the swinging comment...

phd in yogurtry said...

Reasonable would be, "could I possibly trouble you to go downstairs and get the ... I've got knee troubles" (or whatever). Her way, not just unreasonable, but rude.

(As an American who calls it "the yellow pages" finding it difficult to call it A to Z)

Lucy Fishwife said...

Absolutely! If only she'd done what my 95-yr-old granny calls "playing the little old lady card" I'd have bent over backwards for her - although having said that she couldn't have been more than 50 and I think she only didn't "do stairs" because somebody else "did" them for her. Obviously I'm saying every word with quotation marks round it in the sneery and sarcastic tones of the disgruntled retailer...

missbehaving said...

She does sound awful, but must admit am LMAO at peoples comments on what they come across in their various lines of work, someone should start up a blog featuring stories from different peoples' jobs and the people/situations, they come across.
The Inside Story...

Lucy Fishwife said...

There used to be a fantastic and very funny blog by a tube driver but I've totally forgotten what it was called! I once went on a 6.30am flight to Amsterdam (back in the days when I had to do that kind of thing for work) and the cabin crew guy who was doing the safety announcement had obviously got so used to the fact that at that time in the morning nobody pays attention that he was, basically, just taking the piss. When he had to indicate the lighted strip along the carpet that guides you to the nearest exit he did it in the style of ZZ Top. I was the only one who laughed...