At 7:15am every workday morning, I call in the corner shop on my way to work. I stop the car, nip in the shop, say “morning” to the assistant and purchase a packet of cigarettes and some chewing gum. Out comes my wallet and debit card. It’s worth noting that I’m much like the Queen when it comes to carrying cash; although I’m sure we’re not aligned when it comes to carrying a YMCA gym membership card.
At this point, every single morning, the shop assistant tells me she hasn’t switched on the card machine. She then proceeds to turn on the machine and we wait 5 minutes for it to check itself, connect to the network, calculate Pi to the 7,462nd decimal etc. We make small talk – excruciatingly painful and embarrassed small talk – until the machine is up and running. I never thought I’d say this… but every morning I thank God for the weather. Finally, I pay and go back to the car. At this point, my partner shouts at me that we’re late for work and accuses me of wasting an hour’s wages in petrol by keeping the car running.
This happens every single morning.
One particularly frustrating morning, I started mulling it over while driving to work and it dawned on me… why don’t I just say something to the shop assistant? It would be quite reasonable for me to mention that, on reflection, she might want to consider turning on the machine as part of her morning opening activities.
Obvious I know, but until then it had never occurred to me to mention it to her. Perhaps I’ve inherited some random genetic tendency toward the inherently British response to appalling service; “…eat up Brenda and don’t acknowledge that hoodlum; he only spat in our Carpaccio to make a scene”. Or perhaps I’m just lost in the stunned haze that one enters on receiving service that is even poorer than expected.
Regardless of the whys and wherefores, it got me thinking: who is actually responsible for this continuing pantomime of early morning frustration? No doubt, it’s never dawned on the shop assistant to switch on that machine as she opens the shop. After all, very few people enter their workplace thinking “how can I annoy everyone I encounter today”. Yes, she should know – but it’s quite clear that she doesn’t. Surely therefore, I have a degree of culpability where this ongoing situation’s concerned? I’ve been quick to leave the shop and rant to my partner. I’ve been quick to tell all and sundry at work about the ongoing epic of my histrionic early mornings. But I’ve never told that shop assistant.
So, tomorrow morning, I will be searching for a degree of courage to face the awkwardness, seize the day and have that conversation. Hopefully it will be a positive and mutually beneficial one; but regardless, I will be having it.
I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Guest Frog: EJH