I Cried Because I Had No Shoes…

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I am going to stop telling my stories of retail trade. One of the family members is a customer service officer with a large government department and mans their desk in 8-hour shifts…and has worse customers than I do.

He’s bound by government regulation and what must be a minefield of official directives – I just have a silly workplace agreement and George Washington’s advice to hem me in. We both do pretty well – neither of us has gone on a rampage yet. Mind you, I believe Kon Tiki Tours do organise a pretty good rampage with gunfire and cars set alight, so I am thinking of sending away for a brochure…

I think he has clients – I have customers. In both cases they can sometimes come through the doors with the kind of attitude that used to characterise Viking landings in Norfolk. They might not be wearing spectacle helmets and chain mail but the basic idea is the same – pillage and burn. That explains the state of our till and the heat on the back of our necks.

I guess it is modern life – the customers want the world for 5¢ and the clients want their enemies disembowelled before their eyes. In both cases this may not be possible – economics and law act to prevent it. We at the front desk are reduced in most cases to the lower ranks fall-back behaviour of staring out to 2000 yards, sucking our teeth, and repeating the bleeding obvious. I have added coming to parade attention with thumbs down to trouser seams. In the most severe cases that require being sent upstairs to enquire about some non-existent item or delayed delivery I indulge myself with sentry pace and turns…but I doubt that they notice.

In most cases it is money, madness, or academia that drives the conflict. If the person on the other side of the counter has the first, suffers from the second, or pretends to belong within the third they can be right pains. It is all a matter of control, and how they hope to assert it. Of course this behaviour breaks against state law or commercial reality, but they still feel that they need to press their privilege. And they press it on us.

I’m lucky. I’ll be retired for good in a few years and can spend my time reading, writing, and photographing happy subjects.Here’s hoping that my friend has a way of bettering his experience…

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