I was in a Hamilton shop recently inquiring about an office supply which I couldn’t find on the shelf.
“We had ‘em “the sales clerk said,” but people keep buying ‘em. “
“What ?”, I asked. I can feel the muscles around my forehead begin to crease.
” Ya, we had ‘em but people keep buy’en em. Wa all out.“
“So why don’t you buy more of ‘em then ?,” I asked.
“Yeah we order ‘em all the time” the clerk went on, not really answering me.
“Wha gettin’ some more. Tha’ probly on the dock. Ya, I’m not too sure when, but yeah wha’ got ‘em on order.”
I walked back to my car.
I find a parking ticket. What the heck is this? I had my parking doo-hickey on the window and I can see that it was indeed turned on.
“What’s this ?”, I asked the ticketmaster.
“You had the machine on but you had the wrong code inserted. ”
“But I was paying. I wasn’t cheating Caesar. I was paying !!”
Why can’t they put a sticker saying ‘check your code number.’ My government and or the Corperation of Hamilton feel justified issuing a $50 ticket for this *&%@# ??
I pull in to the hardware store. I go in and decide foolishly to go to the Help Desk. Goody, I reason. There’s the attendant and there are no other customers. The attendant is on her cell. She’s sitting down low, which looks a little odd for someone in Customer Services. It becomes obvious that she’s working hard not to be seen and she seems to not see that I am there. Is this possible? Silly me. I should have called ahead and made an appointment to see her, but then again, she would have been on the phone, so chances are that I wouldn’t have gotten through anyway. I wait as I shift from one foot to the other. Eventually I say
“Excuse me, I have a question.”
It becomes apparent that the conversation she’s having is not customer related. She doesn’t pause or put her call on hold. Instead she points to another floor clerk who is answering someone else’s question. She gesticulates with irritation as if to say
“You see me on the phone go to somebody else ! ”
Well when the clerk in question finally finishes with his customer, he turns to me. He is pleasant, but he does not know the answer, so he goes back to the same customer service desk where the same clerk is still sorting out her life on the phone and she still looks irritated. She’s still talking. He doesn’t wait. He just plows through with his question. Humph,he must be used to her.
“No,we aink got none.”
She’s still talking to the phone. He looks at me, shrugs his shoulders as if to say
“Hey I tried, what’s a guy to do. You see what she’s like.”
I picked up hurricane candles and a few other small items and proceed to the check-out counter.
“How much are these?”, the sales clerk asked me after trying unsuccessfully to scan the items .
I shrugged, too disgusted to answer. Eventually the clerk goes off to find the price. I’ve never seen anyone walk slower except maybe a reluctant patient at the dentist’s office. He comes back and asks me
”How many do you have there?”
The candles have been emptied from the shopping basket and are laying there on the counter.
“Pardon me ?! “ I say bewildered.
He repeats the question blank faced. I’m smirking now. Geez he wants me to count them, find the price AND pay him too !? I shrug, I shake my head and look away….. I know what I want to say, but I don’t trust myself to say only that and no more. I’m feeling the heat of summer. I’m feeling the extra weight I’m carrying and the fact that my dollar is shrinking every day, I’m frustrated and irritated and on top of all of this is this sales clerk. I look at him. He looks at me. I wait. He looks as if to say,
” Geez lady, you picked them up. You must know how many you picked up”.
He sighs, yup that’s right ! He sighs, counts them and concludes the sale.
On my way out of town I stop at a mango vender and had in mind to treat myself. When I approached his cart he begins his dialogue. He is training his apprentice who I notice is studying me.
“Hello Auntie,” he says.
“Amum, look um, all these mangos are good, understand what I’m sayin’? Tha very sweet.“ He touches each box.
“Tha’ all good right? “( how do I know if he’s right?), “So could I ask you not to touch ‘em, cause tha’ all good right? Like just choose one. See what I’m sayin? Cause people come touchin ’em all, right? and squeezing em.”
I’m really peeved, cause One: I’m not his damned“Auntie” and Two: Does this man want to sell me a mango or what?! Okay I tell myself, get a grip and stop being so touchy. You know the “Auntie” thing is an endearment borrowed from the islands to the south. Or maybe it isn’t even an endearment, maybe he was just letting me know he thinks I’m old. I don’t know. All I know is that it’s hot and I have had enough.
He turns to his apprentice and says,
“See? That’s how you explain it.”
The apprentice doesn’t look too convinced but says nothing.
Okay, last one.
“Hi I’m looking for some thingys.”
“Thingys?”, says the clerk.
“Aw aw No, we aink got none of them”
“Well what’s that behind you on the third shelf? “Ain’t that a thingy?”
“What ! those?!”, says the clerk. “You mean, these?”, he says, pointing to the blue thingy. “These ?” he asks again sounding stupid now because he doesn’t want to apologise for not looking before he said “no”, so he makes it sound like you were unclear and that’s why he misunderstood.
“Ya wha’ got those, I thought you was talking about those other things, Ya wha got those……….”
In Bermy we love to begin the dialogue by telling the customer why he cannot get what he wants. If the customer behaves himself he might get it in the end. It’s because of the triangle of course. Studies indicate that when we are affected by the Bermuda Triangle we become disoriented. We confuse service with servitude. We don’t like serving people anyway. We have no idea what the relationship of the customer to our paycheck is. I am not overly concerned though. I am convinced that this crap economic climate is going to shake some of this attitude loose. As my granny would have said
“We really need to change ava attytude”.
Feel free to send me your experiences, but only if you are giving me permission to use them in print. I’m thinking it might make a great book, but so that I don’t get depressed, please only send the lighter ones. I purposely did not post the other kind and we all know there are tons of the other kind!
I’m an equal opportunity storyteller so if you have stories from the salesclerks point of view, I’m open to them, but don’t call me to dictate them. You have to write them down and be prepared to have me use them, so no names please.
Here are the original paintings I have in the studio which are available for sale which relate to shopping in Bermy.
If you can think of a classic Bermy experience let me know, perhaps I’d like to paint about it. I’m also always looking for models for situational poses for my paintings. Want to play with me? You’d probably come with a few friends dressed for the shoot. It would be a photoshoot so you should expect to spend at least an hour with me. Call with your ideas. No babies at this time these would be adult situational poses, (clothed). It could be a cool way to mark a birthday or a special time spent with friends.