Monday, 2 June 2014

Do you want some help with your packing?

No I don't. Of course I don't. Why would I?  I mean, do I? I don't think I do. Maybe I do. It's just... it's just putting things in bags isn't it? Why would I need help with that?

Is it suddenly going to turn into a game of Russian Roulette Jenga? If I don't do it fast enough some dude will come out and shoot me in the head? Is there a special way of doing it that I don't know? Is it something I should know but I don't? I should explain here, that I live in a perpetual state of being pretty convinced I
missed the memo that explains everything and that everyone else is going through life with a whole different set of instructions and explanations. So a question like: "Do you want some help with your packing?" can really, you know, make me question stuff.

I mean, what if people know something about packing that I don't? What if there's a reason they always ask me at the checkout and yet I always say no. What would happen if I said yes? Would it be a Sliding Doors moment of epic meaning? No? Well, then. Why would I want help putting things in bags? Why do corporate and retail knobbers insist on making their poorly paid, under appreciated staff spout pointless bullshit to uninterested consumers?

How many times have you heard someone say: "Hmm. Oh yes. I am unable to put boxes and jars into bags actually, so yes, if you would please do that for me while I stand and stare at you, that would be just fabulous."

The only people who ever take advantage of those kinds of services are the very old or the very rich. Which leaves a lot of us in the middle, who don't need help to do very basic things and feel uncomfortable being asked.

Granted, it may only be me who wrestles with a crisis of confidence at the supermarket checkout. I'm usually coming off a panic attack or just staving one off by the time I get to the bit where you pay. So, to me, the best thing that could ever happen in this situation is to do it as fast as possible, with minimum chats at the till. Every time I've been shopping since around 1998, I've been asked: "Do you want help packing?" and every time I've said: "No thanks."

They only started asking these kinds of questions in the mid 90s. Something to do with American customer service filtering its way through into our grey and dismal land.

That's a lot of wasted words and time. I know they knew that I didn't need help with my packing and they knew that I knew that but they had to ask me because it's 'policy'. I know it's policy so I have to play the part in the conversation of person who may have legitimately wanted 'help with their packing', has had a little think about it but actually, on the whole, has decided that she can manage to put things in bags all by herself thanks.

It's the same as when you go into a department store. Not that I do anymore, to be fair. But you know, some kind of shop that has stuff in it and they hone in on you. "Do you need any help there?"

"With WHAT? I'm LOOKING at shelves with my EYES. What help could I possibly need with that? Are your eyes different? Can you see things in a way that renders them golden and special?"

Just today a man approached me in Tesco while I was looking for apricot liqueur on the shelves marked 'Specialty Liqueur'.

"Can I help you with anythinggggggggggggggg?"

And I thought, actually yeah. I can't be arsed using my eyes anymore to look at stuff. I'll get him to do it for me.

"I'm looking for apricot liqueur. Do you have any?"

Panic stricken he was. "Oh, I don't know. Have you looked on the shelves?"

"Yes, that's what I was doing just now when you came up and asked me if you could help me with anything."

"Did you find it?"

"No. Do you have any?"

"Oh I don't know. I'd look on the shelves if I were you. It would be here if we had it so if you can see it then we have it."

Well, THANKS. That was WORTH yours and my time wasn't it?

And that, right there, is why society is annoying as fuck. People asking pointless questions because they're told to, with no interest in the answer and no ability to alter the outcome either way. We are living in a Kafkaesque nightmare of massive proportions. The future is here. And it's empty.

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