Boy! I Say, Boy!

A recent Facebook conversation raised the subject of retail shopping and the interaction between customers and staff. In particular, the first greetings and subsequent conversation. As we’ve all been either a customer or a staff member at some time, we all know the sounds…and the fury.

a. ” How ya Goin’, Guys? ”

This is a fine staff greeting if you are a dignified 60+ senior sales consultant approaching elderly ladies in an up-market and elegant shop. It’ll really strike a chord with them and lead to them making many expensive purchases.

Actually, you’ll be lucky not to get the point of a parasol in your eye.

b. ” Sup, Dudes? ”

This is even better. Only this one you use on the 15-year-old customer. The fact that you are dressed in a three-piece suit of cavalry twill and look like a British Major of Guards makes the sound and words even better. The youth will not be able to equate the experience with the visual and may fall gibbering to the floor. Call the clean-up crew to aisle 4.

c. ” May I help thee, Friend? ”

In Pennsylvanian Dutch neighbourhoods this would pass unnoticed. In Perth it is noticed…but the customer may not know what to do with it. It is particularly amusing for the Asian client, as it crosses a number of cultural barriers in several directions at the same time.

Thou must be consistent with thy use of the language and are honour-bound to be kind, helpful, and cheerful whilst thee are doing it. If thou hast a full beard but a shaven upper lip the effect is particularly good. Female staff may wish to wear a poke bonnet and an apron whilst serving.

d. ** Click. Click. Snap. Snap. **

The sound of South African or South Asian fingers doing the ” Come Hither ” song. It is one of the folk-dances of their cultures – but one that the Department of Immigration has failed to confiscate from them at the airport.

In their home countries it is used to summon and ginger up the coloured servants. If the snapper is also coloured, it is used on their lower-caste compatriots. Presumably it works, and probably has a counterpart when there is a motor car involved. Horn tooting.

Here in Australia it can call forth some amazing responses on the part of shop staff. Perhaps the kindest is to waggle the forefinger in the South America ” NoNoNoNo ” gesture and simple say ” That is not done here in Australia. ” Or one can break into an impromptu flamenco dance with continued finger popping and a final ” Ole! “.

e. ” Boy! ”

Also an overseas specialty, but can be seen to cut closer to the bone and to spill more blood. It is particularly dangerous when black people are involved in the conversation on either side.

The only really effective counter is to immediately effect a Steppin Fetchit shuffle and a ” Yassuh, Boss ” accent and overplay the comic coon by about 560%. If you can do this while being an elderly white person dressed in a suit you will create a deserted zone that makes Ground Zero at Alamogordo look like an ant farm. A little soft shoe shuffle never goes amiss…

f. ” May I offer some assistance, Sir…( or Madam )? ”

Speak softly. Smile. Be courteous. Behave as a lady or a gentleman would behave. It is a position from which you need never resile.

Note: If you are a customer and respond to this treatment by being polite, kind, and courteous in return, you will discover that the transaction will be made very much to your benefit. And you will be treated extremely well on every time you return. The staff do remember.

 

 

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The Guild Guide To Social Signalling

The BGA has always taken an interest in social behaviour. If that interest sometimes led to sirens in the night and lifelong enmities it must be remembered that you cannot make an omlette without cracking eggs. The trick to a really good omelette is not to crack the pan either…

Social signalling is a popular topic right now – the forms of communication that we see on the internet in forums, social pages, websites, and columns such as this one. Each has its own special format and in some cases the purpose of the signal can be quite different. Here are some examples:

a. The virtue signal – this is a posting on a social site or a column written to draw attention to the goodness of the writer – to their virtue. The world abounds in evil and misery, and the virtue signaller has a wide choice of topics they can discuss – to make themselves look good.

No-one can pretend that murder is a good thing. So the virtue signaller comes out with a passionate cry that murder is not good – confident that everyone will have to agree with them. They appear a good person for decrying a bad thing.

It becomes a little fraught when they mix politics, religion, sex, and commerce into this cry of virtue. They tend to give off hints of their own prejudices, bigotry, malevolence, and cupidity even as they wave the banner of goodness.

Some people have asked what the best response should be to a virtue signal. The Guild feels that you must either preserve a dignified silence or respond with wholehearted enthusiastic agreement. Whichever course you adopt, attune it to the level of virtue that the original signaller has tried; if they are modest, be modest in your silence – if they are flamboyant, be the same with your stonewall. Likewise, if you pretend to agree with them let it be either a modest social tail wagging or a complete public leg-hump.

b. The vague signal – this is the social post that starts with air and ends with clouds. No part of it is either intelligent or intelligible. You are lucky to see it on Facebook or Twitter -if it came to your email account your ISP would spam-can it staunchly.

Well, a signal is a signal, and this one indicates that the signaller wants you to make earnest and sympathetic enquiries about them. This is so that they can tell you their troubles and, if possible, blame you. This may not be convenient.

The Hearty English Major approach is best here:

” For God’s sake buck yourself up and stop whining! ” is a comfort for many in this situation. Not for the signaller, of course, but for you. Try to snort as you type – it comes through in the punctuation.

c. The outrage signal – this is sometimes linked to the virtue signal but may be a separate thing. In the purest cases it is a reaction to some horrid world event. The signaller foams and imprecates, threatens and howls, finally throwing themselves into a corner in tears. Most of the targets of their anger are far away and untouchable, and nothing ever comes of it.

If the targets are not far away – if they are local persons, firms, and events – it becomes a little more interesting. Publishing a rant doesn’t constitute defamation in many cases but borders on it for others. Responding to a rant as a disinterested third party is a temptation but you really don’t want to include yourself in the ring. If you feel the need to press something, press the emoji button and claim later that it was just your knuckle brushing the keyboard.

A Source Of Pride And Comfort

Looking for something in your life that you can be proud of and that can console you for the little heartaches can be difficult – it is hard to judge things that have no measurable number. You can tot up your score in Bridge or at a firing range, but it is hard to post a personal best in contentment.

Still, I have to say I am feeling good about my recent activities on Facebook…

a. I cancelled out a dozen suggested posts and advertisements without telling the auto-bot why. This means I am still a vague target. Oh, it won’t stop the cycle from happening again, and there will be a new spate of probing shots, but they will all fall dead to the ground.

Moral? Tell ’em nothing, ask ’em nothing.

b. I allowed a most foolish posting from a most foolish friend to pass with no reaction – realising that it was nothing more than a product of extraneous time squeezed through a limited imagination. When things get busy for them, this sort of thing dries up.

c. I ignored the coarsest of political re-posts. Why comment on a third-hand thought that was no good to start with? One would not pick up a discarded half-chewed sandwich from the gutter for any purpose, so why do it with anything else?

d. I refrained from showing wounds, prizes, precocious children, or pets. There was a brief temptation to include a video of a working digestion system but I resisted. If people want to look at that sort of thing they can get a bowl of soup and a mirror and make their own experiments.

e. I refrained from mysticism…because the spirits told me so.

f. I didn’t not correct no-one’s grammar or spelinge.

g. I went to bed at a reasonable hour. Drunk, mind, but in my own bed. Well, it’s a start, isn’t it? I’ll change the sheets tomorrow. Before they set solid.

 

 

Happy Holidays

I intend to wish people Happy Holidays this year during December…in spite of Facebook memes and pressure posts that insist I must only think of Merry Christmas.

Oh, I intend to have one of those too…a pre-Christmas gathering with relatives and then a catered lunch at a hotel on the actual day. Merry will be practiced, I assure you.

But I also hope to have an equally cheerful Hanukkah and even a midsummers dinner. Here in Australia we do that instead of midwinters. If I were a Buddhist I could have a holiday during the month as well, and if I were a black American or a Hispanic American I would have even more celebrations to cook, decorate, and buy presents for. A veritable month of jollity.

And if I were an atheist I could celebrate the 25th of December as Newtonmas and send cards with ” Reasons Greetings “. I would be careful who I sent them to, however, because I think they would severely affect the people on Facebook who post those scolding memes about the term ” Merry Christmas “.

After all, I would not wish to affect their happy holidays…

The Easiest Way To Remit Money To The Moon

I note that there is an advertisement current on Instagram that seeks to have me send money to the Philippines. It does so by telling me that it is easy. If ease were the chief consideration, I could point out that I have a pair of scissors in the desk and can cut cash up into small fragments and blow it out the window. To much the same benefit.

I understand that there are perfectly legitimate reasons for sending money to Manila, or Managua, or Memphis, for that matter. Relatives. Rent. Ransom. I would be the last to stop people from pursuing international trade. But I am also equally sure there are perfectly normal agencies to do this that do not involve Instagram¬†, Twitter, or Gofundme…or any other such marginalia. I also include the Indian grocers and 7-Eleven operators with money transfer signs on their windows in this category.

Folks, ANY bank in any shopping centre can do it, with a paper receipt for you and a real live teller behind a window that you can return to if you are worried. Your money may be destined to be tamped down a tropical rat hole when it gets there, but if you are dealing with the Commonwealth Bank or Westpac, or the ANZ you can at least be sure it will arrive at the rathole intact.

 

Never Fire With No Target Sense

A long time ago before I was as discrete and wise as I am now…cough, cough, cough…I owned a brand-new muzzle loading rifled musket. It was a beauty, capable of throwing a one-ounce minie ball some 1200 yards. It was a man-killer of the British Army in the 1850’s and was certainly capable of doing it in 1988. The local police were willing to licence it to me, probably not realising what it could do.

Well, I shot it at the local rifle range for months, getting pretty good at short distances. Then I took it to a friend’s farm…legally, as it was on an open license. My friend and I proposed to fire it at a small tree on the farm to see if we could cut it in half with the heavy bullets. After an hour of firing, we succeeded, and then packed it in and sat around smugly.

It was only on my return journey toward the city that I saw the lay of the land and realised that all the bullets that had not impacted in the unfortunate tree had passed whistling over a main road that skirted the property. A main interstate highway…

It is said that heaven protects fools and drunks and I was cold sober all day. Guess which category I belonged in. I learned instantly never to fire with no purpose.

Works the same here in the writing game – if I slope off and just blast away without watching to see where the bullets will land, I am sure to do massive harm. Thus I keep a cooling-off shelf for new articles that allows me to reconsider them before pushing the ” publish ” button. You’ll have missed out on some corkers in the last few years here in the column, but then the overshoot could have been tragic.