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The Bay Area Twit

    The last time I was in England I was reminded of the difference between American and British customer service. When you go to a supermarket in the U.K. the cashier is responsible for ringing up your groceries AND THAT’S IT. If you want someone to bag up your things, forget it, you might as well have a grocery bagger flown in all the way from the States.

Fair enough.

     In the U.S. the supermarket cashiers are told to engage their customers, call them by their name, and be familiar to encourage a sense of community and loyalty. But it can all go horribly wrong when a clerk, as often happens, assesses what you’re buying and announces to you (and whomever is around you) what you’re having for dinner. This is all well and good if you’re buying chicken, corn, burgers and buns, and a 12-pack of Bud Lite.

    “I’ll bet you’re barbecuing,” they’ll say.

     “Yep, you got me, we’re barbecuing.”  Your mouth forces a reluctant uncomfortable smile. Perhaps you feel a little guilty that you are indeed off to a barbecue as the cashier toils away at their job for another 6 or 7 hours.

      But suppose instead of placing barbecuing supplies on that conveyor belt, you’re buying toenail fungus ointment, hemorrhoid cream, and 27 rolls of toilet paper. The last thing you want is an uber-chatty checkout clerk trying to do their best Sherlock Holmes impression, loudly announcing how they imagine the rest of your evening is going to go.

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13 Responses

  1. I know how miserable you must have been, but I am so very glad this happened to you. Great to have you back in the writing world. This was worth it.

  2. Thanks, buddy. Oh the self-loathing that can take place at the Bart station…

  3. Except that some of my favorite British jokes involve horrible customer service (i.e. the film “Brazil” and the maze of bureaucracy, any Monty Python sketch in a shop, Fawlty Towers, etc. etc. etc.) Please don’t ruin my fantasy!

  4. Did you go back for another Champagne of Beers?

  5. Great writing! So true i hate the small talk, but enjoy your self reflection.

    • I know. I really don’t ever remember engaging in small talk back in England…unless of course it was dripping with sarcasm. Thanks for reading, Kaetlin and also for commenting.

  6. Whaaaa?

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