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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It’s Not A Blog…

It’s a weblog column. Something that comes out regularly and has a complete set of thoughts in it. My thoughts.

It is not a poem, though there have been times when I’ve written it in poetry.

It’s not a novel. Nothing novel at all. Indeed, there are some very old things in it.

It’s not a connected story – it bounces around as new things are discovered. People say things in the street that eventually become columns here. Wait until you read ” Hey! Bring back my purse! Police! Police! “. ( Good purse but there was nothing of much value in there. Still, it goes with my tan shoes.)

It’s not a rant. One of my columns is a commercial one advertising for a shop and the IT specialist who set it up characterized it in the sidebar as a ” rant “. That actually offends me, but since they do nothing to remedy the situation I merely raise my rates for the jobs I am asked to do. The extra money assuages my injured soul.

So what is it? This one’s a daily essay based upon observation and humour. One of the others is a similar thing devoted to photographic matters – a third revolves around scale models and toys of all sorts. I am happily long retired from my first profession and need not write about teeth and jaws.

Who are my readers? You, for one. And many more, though I cannot exactly figure out how many are constant. I suspect many of the ones that notify me that they like a certain post are using their own weblogs as commercial enterprises and may have automatic programs to throw out electronic grappling hooks. I don’t mind – I do read their connection emails  at least once and have actually added four of them to my daily reading. A couple more seem to have dried up – I mourn that as they had interesting things to read.

Why do I write these columns?

a. It lets me speak freely. That’s not possible on many social media platforms.

b. It lets me crystallize thoughts and memories. If I remember it, I write it, and vice versa. At 70, any mental agility is welcome.

c. I can debunk the myths I have invented for myself and finally be a plain person. That’s hard – even the Amish have to work like devils to be angelic. I need to look at me, and reading what I write helps me to do it. Unfortunately I find others looking over my shoulder and I am aware that no admission ever really vanishes from the internet. But as long as the authorities do not find out about the incident with the chicken necks and the tax inspector I should be fine.

d. It lets me play a part that real life would condemn. The Backstabbers Guild of Australia is a wonderful haven of vile behaviour. The BGA doesn’t have a Speaker of the Senate or a Pauline, but we do have horrid practices nevertheless.

 

I Have Been Accused Of Being Old And Vile…

And I couldn’t be more delighted. Receiving recognition of a lifetime’s dedicated study and work is very gratifying and the fact that the speaker is crying and trying to throw canned goods and shoes at me just makes it all the sweeter. There is a great deal of sincerity in a can of green beans when it is aimed at your head.

Getting to be old is a privilege – one we pay for in aches and pains – but nevertheless a good thing. It means that, as Gilbert and Sullivan so accurately put it, we can mature our felonious little plans. Anticipation is fine but satisfaction is better, particularly if you are never suspected.

Is being vile a bad thing? Well, there are so many definitions of the word that there seems to be room for a great many forms of behaviour. Eating the wrong thing in one culture scores badly – the same meal elsewhere is welcomed with gusto. Likewise political and religious opinions and actions. You just need to find the right audience for anything you do.

I have always tried to be kind to animals. Some of them are useful, some attractive, some dangerous. Some are delicious. It is best to adopt a good attitude to them all if you do not have a .30-06 or a frying pan close to hand.

Likewise I am kind to children. I find them to be valuable allies in my war against their parents. They know things that can be jotted down and given in evidence. Few of them are discrete.

And I do help old people across the road – I take their arm and carefully totter from one curb to the other, oblivious to the screeching and banging of cars as they collide. But I am careful to keep the other person closest to the traffic – no sense being careless about things. SOme of them are younger than me.

I will admit to one bad habit. I cannot pass a stack of canned goods in the supermarket without easing one of the cans on a lower level just to the edge of its engagement. And then I go away and pause in the dairy aisle and listen for the inevitable…

JORAL

If you are done with FOMO, and JOMO….if you are tired of Woke…if On Fleek sounds vaguely disgusting…we have a new buzzcronym for you. You can take it home, unwrap it, plug it in, and use it on the next unsuspecting listener at a party.

JORAL.

That’s it  – pronounced Johr-Al, it is not another character from an old Superman comic. It is what we all want to experience in today’s world. It stands for Joy Of Ruining A Language.

Now we all have some language skills – we cannot help it, being constantly bombarded by words and ideas from all sides. If we have only a family and a school to form us, we may have a limited vocabulary to keep up with the kewl kids in our crowd. If we take a dose of social media we can have more acronyms and buzz-words than we can handle. Occasionally we need to resort to the Urban Dictionary to see what exactly we have said – though we can get a clue when people spit on us whenever they meet us…

JORAL takes a perfectly innocuous word or phrase and turns it into something vile…and in the process ruins it for ever more. Take the word ” HSOASF” A simple word we often use, particularly in the baking trade or amongst the Amish people. It now turns out to be an acronym for Hold Someone Over A Slow Fire. Hardly the sort of thing that we want to appear on our CV or resumé.

Or REBORK. I hesitate to explain this one, as there may be children reading.

And so it goes – any number of words have been turned into weapons of terror. We cannot be sure what we have said, even if it has passed the Spellchecker stage.

JORAL. That’s what it is.Now get out there and spread the word about not spreading the word.

 

 

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…

When To Seem Helpless…

It might be a little odd to advise people to try to seem helpless. After all, some are that way naturally, and do not need to simulate it – some are never helpless, and are better for that. But those of us in the middle…sometimes competent and confident, and sometimes a quivering mass…need to know when to turn it on and when to turn it up…

a. If you are trapped in a dark alley between outlaw motorcycle gangs and rabid dogs, do not appear helpless. It only encourages them. Take the opportunity – perhaps your one and only one – to go mad and bad and dangerous to approach. Go incandescently insane.

b. If you are in a position where dignity is foremost, do not show any helplessness. Stiffen your upper lip and any other portions of your body that may seem appropriate, and behave like a gentleman or a lady. If you cannot decide which of the two to be, go icy and reserved. No-one likes to touch a corpse.

c. In all other circumstances…act helpless. It pays dividends.

If you go to any government agency…or really any office at all…you can be assured that they have more rules than ever you know about, and even when they provide an explanation, it is to their satisfaction, not yours. Here the helpless act compels them to assist in some way. Even if it is just to get rid of you before morning tea break, they will expedite the process.

Likewise professional offices will assist with their own professional processes…if you stand back and let them proceed. Be kind to the receptionist and let her solve the problems she could make you if you were argumentative and entitled.

Helplessness also will get assistance from people in shops, service stations, on the buses and trains, and really anywhere that is public enough. Do not exploit it, but reserve it for times when something really is all too much. Likewise, step up and assist someone else who you can see failing.  That’s the secret to being moral. That and not setting fire to haystacks.

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.