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Confessions to Customers

June 4, 2011
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I’m always there for you, always friendly and polite, always with a smile and good service… but…

I ‘forget’ about our ‘buy ten, get one free’ policy on lettuce plants if you annoy me. If you insist on inspecting every single plant I pack for you, complaining that this one’s too small, and that one’s too big, and the third is yellow and the fourth has a damaged leaf, you’re not just annoying, you also slow me down while there are five other people also waiting for their plants, and you really don’t deserve to get anything for free.

I judge you if I think you have bad taste or buy plants I just don’t like. Especially wax begonias. I hate those with a passion – and even though I know they’re tried-and-tested, trouble-free plants, I can’t help but despise you for buying them. I still have problems even calling them by their proper name – wax begonias are ‘Eisbegonien‘ (‘ice begonias’) in German, and for years, I referred to them only as ‘Scheissbegonien‘ (‘shit begonias’) – can’t call them that aloud any more, but I still think of them this way.

I make faces behind your back if you’re being stupid or extremely hard to please. Preferably if the boss’s wife can see it, because it makes her laugh, and then it’s very hard not to laugh myself.

I mock you if you’ve said something particularly stupid. I’ll keep a straight face as long as I’m talking to you, but then I’ll sneak off to tell my bosses, and some days, all I can do is cling to the pallet jack because I’m giggling too hard to stand up straight about that woman who wanted quicksilver to make her hydrangeas bloom blue.

I have no respect for the death of your loved ones. We make a lot of jokes about funerals – the only way to make weeks of making floral arrangements for All Saints’ Day bearable.

I silently call you a jerk if you don’t tip me after I’ve planted your window boxes or made a bouquet for you. OK, sometimes not so silently. And I’m not the only one, either. I nearly cracked up the other day because the boss’s wife came into the greenhouse talking to a customer walking behind her, and in the middle of it, as she walked past me, muttered ‘cow’ just loudly enough for me to hear.*

I think of you as material for blog posts. It helps me stay calm even when you’re utterly infuriating.

I don’t always tell you if you’re making a bad choice. Either because you’ve chosen a plant that’s been around forever, and I’m glad of a chance to sell it, or because I’ve decided you’re obnoxious/aren’t going to listen anyway, and so deserve to end up with a rubbish plant.

I  hide from you. Oh, never during my working hours. After all, I need to sell you stuff so the boss can pay my wages. During break, on the other hand… The Teeny-Tiny Village Nursery doesn’t have a separate lunch room, so we sit in the back of the shop to eat. And I’m so sick of being interrupted by people who ‘just want to pay, it’ll only take a moment’ – is it really so much trouble to walk the couple of steps over to the greenhouses and call to one of the bosses? Or even by people who just wish me a good afternoon before they go out to find someone else who’ll take their money – I don’t want to talk, not even to say ‘good afternoon’. I just want to eat and read my book, so leave me alone! So I now have a ‘hedge’ on the work table, made from a couple of sunburned hydrangeas that have for some reason ended up in the back of the shop, and a towel draped over the edge of the table to hide my legs, and if I hear anyone come in, I’ll cower down behind my hydrangeas and chew very quietly until they go away.

I totally play favourites. Well-tipping regulars like Mrs T. and Mr K. will always be served first, though Mrs A., who doesn’t tip but has such a pleasant laugh is a close second – I don’t know what it is, but just talking to her makes me happy. Next come the people who I don’t know well, and only then, when I can’t avoid it any longer, I’ll acknowledge the presence of Mrs M. who’s always arguing about one thing or another (and who I’m pretty sure tried to steal once during my first month), Mr Red Face who talks and talks and talks about things nobody wants to hear, Mrs F. who always tries to argue about the prices, F. the Witch who looks disgusting and also talks and talks and talks, Whistle Guy who can’t tell me how many lettuce plants he wants without putting his arm around my back… ugh!

Of course, I don’t do these things with all my customers, and I’m quite sure I wouldn’t need to do any of them with my readers here – except for the playing favourites thing, because I’m sure you’d all be worthy of being served first.

_____________

*Actually, the word she used was ‘Blunzn‘, which litterally means ‘black pudding’…. ‘cow’ is the closest I can get in meaning…

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2011 23:50

    scheissbegonien – hahahaha. I don’t like them much, either, and you’ve given them a new name for me.

    I know just what you mean about people interrupting during my lunch. I work through lunch by eating at my desk. That doesn’t mean I want someone to swoop down and drag me away from my hot lunch only to natter for 30 minutes at me.

    • June 5, 2011 12:26

      Being dragged away from a hot lunch must be even more annoying than from my daily sandwiches.

  2. June 5, 2011 05:20

    I miss retail…I used to do all these same things!

  3. June 6, 2011 12:22

    Ha ha…loved this! Sometimes it takes a lot of patience (and some valium) to deal with certain customers.

    • June 6, 2011 21:42

      Some days, I wander around muttering prayers for patience to gods I don’t even believe in… in my made-up language so my customers won’t understand me if they accidentally hear me!

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