Friday, January 15, 2010

I Love You Love Me Love

Is it a terrible character flaw to find overly-nice people really bloody irritating?

We used to have this sandwich man come round at work. He was Asian, over 50 (probably), slightly cowed and he mumbled, but was very polite and always thanked you profusely for your purchase and told you to have a nice day/weekend. He was only being friendly, but I thought he was the most pathetic of creatures and his subservience really used to get on my nerves to the point where I thought I might be rude to him if he carried on the way he was going. Luckily he was replaced by someone else, who rings a bell on arrival. Guess where I'm planning to shove that in the not too distant future.

There's a newsagent round the corner from my house where I started going of a morning and which eventually reached the how are you stage. So instead of just popping in, buying what I wanted then leaving, it became that a stop and chat was expected. I stopped going.

The woman in the dry cleaners who always calls me by the wrong name and now it's too late to correct her is the only person I can bear to chat to, local small business-wise. But she's not overly nice, and doesn't want to engage me in a long chat so perhaps that's why. Though she did once dye our bathmats for us at no extra cost.

Is it shyness on my part? Or rudeness? Or just that I want to be able to go about my business without being showered with niceties that are not sincere? Someone I know is always so nice and sympathetic about everything but somehow it just doesn't ring true and I think she uses it to get what she wants in life. I'm not fooled and neither are a lot of other people. Or am I being too harsh? Don't even start me on unnaturally perky people. They're clearing drowning in a sea of despair.

Anyhoo, because it's Friday and a traditional music day, and because my current musical obsession is the period 1961-63, here's Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen with the evocative Midnight In Moscow. It's trad, dad!


Chris Hughes said...

"The woman in the dry cleaners who always calls me by the wrong name and now it's too late to correct her"

That's an episode of Seinfeld right there.

I'm with you. A few years back I went through a phase of going to a local cafe on a Saturday morning and buying a bacon baguette to eat as I watched telly and read the paper. One fateful morning, I walked in, and the perfectly cheery proprietor said "Bacon baguette?"

I've never been back since.

LF Barfe said...

When I was a student, our local newsagent was over-familiar and, he thought, a great conversationalist. We thought he was a sinister pain in the arse. On the day of a big boxing match, he gestured to the headline on a newspaper and said (I swear this is verbatim), "Mayhap sir is a fight fan?". We stopped going there when he started taking an interest in our grot purchases. "Ah, Mayfair. Sir prefers some after-dinner jokes with his tits and arse."

Took me a while to work out what sort of open-reel machine that was. Pioneer. Lovely.

Mondo said...

I don't mind chirpy, but can't stand over-familiar in shops. I'm sure I've been branded as 'two white toast with marmite' in several sarney bars.

On the flipside, when my parents ran a newsagents in the 80s, it would often be a race to disappear out the back when certain customers came in. You knew they were just itching to take the floor, for a few minutes. One old boy insisted on calling me Paul (actually if people eveer get my name I end up a 'Paul')for years..

Further to this it's incredible how many oldies and retired types used to buy (or shoplift) porn mags.

Cocktails said...

Boy, I'm looking forward to meeting you, friendly old F-C!

I don't mind friendliness in local shops. I do mind grovelling Big Issue sellers saying 'Thank you ever so much. Have a nice day Madam' though.

Simon said...

Oh yes, chirpy customers are much worse than chirpy assistants. My brother had a regular at the newsagent who would attempt to buy a cornetto and always ask for a spoon as well "you can't eat ice cream without a spoon, lad" being his retort then putting it back. And MrsB now has one she has to hide from becuase his conversations always end up in proposals of marriage.

Oh, as for yesterday, I'd kill for a can of Quattro.

Five-Centres said...

I'm quite friendly to those I actually have some connection with. But of course it's on my terms.

Anonymous said...


Ishouldbeworking said...

If it helps at all, I once queued behind Kenny Ball in a grocer's in Seven Kings, where he was being unbelievably rude to the woman behind the counter. Take no heroes, only inspiration, eh?