The reason I’m not all jolly-jolly with the customers is not because I’m miserable, quite the opposite. I can be standing there on my own and just crack up laughing for no reason at all. I’m a happy guy. I actually avoid shops where the people working there are super friendly. I go into a shop I just want to buy something, I don’t want a friend, you know?
Treat other people how you’d like to be treated yourself – they’re great words to live by.
There’s an off-license about 270metres from my house. I used to walk there often to get my cigarettes but then over the years the fucking guy in there decided I was his best mate. So I stopped going and now if I don’t steal enough cigarettes from work to see me through I have to drive about 1,700 metres to the Co-op.
All the people who work in the Co-op are on some form of day release – not sure they even get paid – and they want you out of the shop ASAP so they can go back to gazing boss-eyed into the distance, drooling and imagining themselves in a meadow chasing butterflies. I much prefer that. They had one chatty munchkin in the Co-op at Christmas. I bought some lottery tickets from it and it got all giddy and said I must share my winnings with it. I said I wouldn’t be doing that and that I intended to spend the winnings on child pornography and a samurai sword. A joke, of course, but it shut it up. Seen it a couple of times since but it’s never been on the till to serve me. It’s probably fucking devastated that it isn’t Christmas any more.
There’s actually another shop where I sometimes go that is sort of friendly but not too friendly, the guy behind the counter calls me “Chief,” but that’s as far as the banter goes. I like being called Chief. “That all, Chief?” He’ll ask.
See, Enrique called me into his office this morning. He’d been told by Stan from head office to improve customer relations. I tried to explain to him that Stan was a dick who knew nothing about working in a shop but Enrique was having none of it – Stan wanted customer service improved and that was that.
“Chu gotta be more pleasan’, man!” Enrique was telling me.
“That’s not a nice thing to say so why don’t you be more pleasant, huh?” I asked. That was childish but fucking hell, told off by Enrique. Not how I’d imagined my Monday morning. Enrique sighed.
“Whas chor dream?” Enrique asked me leaning back on his chair. I actually thought about that. My dream is to be a foot shorter, three stone lighter, black and capable of running 10 kilometres in 25 minutes.
“I don’t have dreams. Just nightmares,” I told him somewhat melodramatically but I fucking liked how it sounded, hope to use it again.
“When I first arrive here in America I -“
“This isn’t America.”
“- have a drim, chu know? Chu know wha’ e was?”
“No.” Be a dick in a white suit? You nailed it!
“To get job an’ meet a nice woman,” Enrique made an hour-glass outline with his hands, “have a leetle house, man!” He made a roof outline with his hands. Enrique’s dream house did not have a flat roof. Good thing with our climate. Enrique raised his eyebrows at me. I raised mine back, higher. “Chu know, man? Have acoop lee kids and a doggie.”
“Acoop lee kids?
“Si, two boys.”
“Oh, a couple of kids.”
“Girls are trouble.”
“And how’s that working out for you?” I asked.
“Chu dun understan’ man!” Enrique exclaimed. He leant forward, not quite into my personal space but I still leant back. “Chu… Chu,” Hey, Enrique turned into a train! “Chu got e tall, man.” He shook his head to denote that I didn’t even know it.
“It’s not as great as it sounds,” I told him. I said this because he made it sound great and it’s not.
“Pah!” Said Enrique exasperated. “I live in chor garage, man!”
“Yeah, I’m going on the treadmill in the morning so keep it clear.” He had all his washing on it the other day.
“S’fine, s’fine, chu got to ‘preciate more what chu got, man! And Stan, he mean it, man! Dey gonna review customervice, man. Misty shopper. Chu know what a misty shopper is?”
“Customervice?” I asked and Enrique pointed at ‘customer service’ that was written on the sheet clipped to his clipboard. I also saw ‘mystery shopper. “Mystery shopper? That’s entrapment.”
“It’s a customer who isn’t really a customer.”
“She-ite,” said Enrique removing his hat with his left hand dragging the right through his hair. “Chu gotta be on chor toes, man.” He was concerned, which is mental, I could live on the rent he pays me to live in my garage.
“I’ll try and be nicer out there,” I told him. Hey, it wouldn’t kill me.
I had an opportunity to try out my brand new persona immediately as there was a queue of people waiting at the counter. I looked around for Paula then lied to the customers. Twice.
“Sorry about the wait!” I lied.
“What were you doing, having a shit?” Asked the simpleton who had been waiting longest.
“I sure was, Chief!”