06 Sep An old and bitter one.
yyyyyyyyyyou ye bas%*$d
It finally happened to me and it happened today. I feel lost, ashamed, sorry and stuffed with extraordinary amounts of self-loathing. After nearly ten years in the retail trade, dealing with the ‘public’, the people of the world’s problems, desires and demands; I snapped. Flipped and fell into the pit of shame and despair called (say slowly with an aged voice)’ self contempt’.
Winters day, t’was about five thirty, three quarters of the way into a 12-hour day. A middle-aged woman came into the shop. Died hair, tired coat and brown hat. I have several different approaches to ‘the customers’ when the enter my domain. All based on initial contact. Ranging from a simple “hello” with an open, ready to help face to “hi ya- listen I hope you don’t mind … There is no smoking in here”. Informative and not overtly threatening.
Sadly, my blackened soul’s burden has grown brittle over the years and has wearily, finally shattered. And you did it. You, and your sort. The general public. That woman and her silly, harmless question have turned me into a crabbed shit and I take no blame for the horrible mutation.
Most people would relay to my father “that young fella of yours, is such a nice boy”
I didn’t go out to be. It is just a better way to go through the world. Well it was.
The years of the public have embittered me. Thon lady walked into my shop yesterday. The anti-bitch. When I caught sight of her in the camera, my brain smirked. Ok, lets have daft question one. My, no greeting to her already made the air tense. There must come a point where it is better to say nothing than to be offensive. O rolled my lips, frowned and glared, waiting. Knowing what was coming next.
Her hesitation compounded the situation further. Out of a plastic bag she fumbled to produce something black and slightly too large for its packaging. She held it up like a soiled panted kid to its mother.
The question: “Can you fix my kettle son?”
Somewhere a star exploded and my chair in heaven was tossed into the mirth of lower hell.
Outside my shop it says ‘bike store’ no, ‘specialist bike store’. Three times. There is an eight-foot high painting of a cyclist on the wall, bikes in the window, bikes on the walls. Wheels hanging from the ceiling. There is an overwhelming smell of tyre rubber and there is an mountain bike video playing on a 28”TV screen behind my head. I have a tee shirt with a bicycle emblazoned across the chest. She negotiated two large cycle stands, each displaying 6 bicycles to reach our current stance.
I wanted to be more surprised. I longed to be stunned. Although it took a while for the words to completely sink in. I stood there staring. I tried to work out where a kettle would go on a bike; even a really well equipped one. My delay filled with loathing. Not for this woman, for the collective requests that produced the answer “Sorry, this is a bike store” just bikes. No tennis/foot balls. No lamp fuses. No clutch pads for a Honda, no clips, hooks or special nails. All out of a ‘bit of wire that long’. I don’t know where you would buy one of those, or if they open on Sundays or the price.
No, the bastards who have whored my shop door over the years, bringing their half-witted, requests to my living environment. It’s a feckin bike store!! We don’t fix watches or Hoovers or sell a wee round thing to fit in there. I am all out of football boot studs, batteries and hover bags. No camera bits or walking shoes. Kids dressed else where and no; I don’t know what it is either.
Even when it is cycle related I get confronted with the miser logic of: “do I owe you anything”? I have no idea how you got the impression that a bike repaired and parts replaced would cost money. Well of course you owe me something you numpty, it’s called a free market economy. I missed the United Nations “bike repair aid” sign outside, here’s the dream of me in a sky blue beret eagerly waiting to attend to wounded bi- pedal machinery.
People have made me shy away from people.” Do you think it is punctured?” ‘Well I don’t know sir. … The fact that it is flat and there is half a Jameson’s whisky bottle sticking out of the tyre could be a wee clue.
“ Can I …have a … A wee ah… It’s about this size ……… Ach you know … “ How in the name of all twelve monkeys could I fuckin know?”
The woman stood there with the element. Too long a time had passed since the question. I looked at her in dismay I felt sad and looked lost. She broke eye contact, replaced the kettle with the polished spout tearing what was left of the bag and all she could do was swaddle the plastic bag around the blackened metal base, I heard a few languid vowel noises as she excused herself out the door.
Don’t blame me for being a shite. It’s her fault. I am the victim here.
In playback…I ran opened the door, apologised and directed up the street to the electrical store. The reality was cold. My internal temporary menace has filled me full of self-loathing and sparked a chance in vocation.
Them:“ I am looking for a wee silver bit for my bike”
Me: ‘is it a single coil helix return spring?’
Them: “is that what I need?”
Me: ‘ I don’t know, but you’re the one who started the stupid questions ye flump.’
Perhaps a year or two praying upon a cloud bound temple in Nepal, atop high stone steps, mediating, restoring my mind. Manners and faith in our species. It’s not just me. Go into any shop, a real shop, and even if you know what you want, make eye contact, then stare at the ceiling and say this sentence as slow as a person who was not familiar with the English language would, whilst looking for a verb in a phrase book… “Can I have…wait til I get this right……….. I need one…no, two……… No, one would do……….. Eh.” and see what happens!
Shop staff hates you, the public. We hate other shop staff. Worst of all, we hate ourselves. So don’t go in ‘on an off chance’ go in. With direction and keep small talk to a minimum. If you need a nail: – buy the nail. The guy does not need to know what it’s for and why the thing broke or even why that person who broke it hasn’t been the same from the car accident, even if he said he would pay and I’m sure you words are marked.