All the world’s a stage. Er, no it isn’t.

Yesterday, I felt the urge to buy some new clothing. Winter is now hopefully on the way out, so it’s time to throw off the furs and buy a new mankini.

So, Mrs M and daughter  grabbed our passports and headed south into deepest Buckinghamshire to the town of many islands – Milton Keynes.

Now I like MK’s shopping centre. You can park the car and forget about it (not literally of course, you still have to travel back home), go into the shopping complex and spend money. So I did. I bought new clothes. I didn’t buy a mankini, I think if I did that a 30+ year marriage would be over quite quickly. I was ‘in the zone’ that day (unusual for me) and I was looking forward to buying some new clothes. So it could be reliably reported that, for the most part I was a happy chappie, but as ever, life was about to thumb its nose, drop its trousers and crap on my head which would then have the inevitable result of switching me into ‘grumpy old man’ mode. I actually don’t think I am that old, but the universal phrase apparently cannot be altered. Only old men are grumpy. Not middle-aged or young men – just old men. Anyway, I digress.

Whilst paying for my purchases at a well-known clothing emporium clutching my coin of the realm, the sales assistant began to engage me in conversation. Now this type of interaction is fine – I quite like it, and that day you remember, I was in a good mood. But the questions and phrasing from this erstwhile thespian was obviously all taken from a company approved script. I had actually heard another sales assistant engage her customer in exactly the same forced-interest discourse with the same questions whilst I was waiting to be served. The young man who served me, was obviously no actor. His chat was a monotone of bored, mumbled, disinterest.

The company obviously want to get their staff to engage in friendly chit-chat with their customers to foster an air of friendliness, but all I felt was an miasma of growing annoyance (or grumpiness) that this young person serving me was being forced to ask questions that he didn’t want to ask and – because it was so obviously scripted – I didn’t want to bloody-well answer.

As my grump meter climbed higher I felt like telling the assistant to mind his own bloody business and just put the (*&^%()£” sale through. I didn’t, it wasn’t his fault. Some marketing idiot at his company’s headquarters had decided that pretending to be interested in the customer’s life was a good thing to do. It isn’t. They don’t hire actors, they hire shop assistants. Horses for courses I reckon.

To prove I’m not an inveterate grump, later that day in another shop, a sales assistant started a conversation whilst I was being served and it was delightful. Very natural and unforced.

Perhaps she was just a better actor than the previous assistant.

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