On the way into Leeds yesterday, the car was low on petrol and so as I was passing a station that is always on a list of ones having the lowest prices, I pulled in. I was pleased to see they had the facilities for paying at the pumps - especially as there was a line of customers inside waiting to pay in person which is still the norm in this country.
So I read the simple instructions, put my card into the slot, entered my pin number, removed my card and filled 'er up. I replaced the hose, pressed the button for a paper receipt and waited. And waited. Nothing appeared and finally the display moved on to welcome the next customer.
Now I didn't actually need a receipt for any reason but as I was 'promised' one, I wanted it. I also didn't want the next customer getting mine as has happened in the past so I went into the shop to see what could be done and if nothing else, get them to print me my receipt.
I joined the long line.
After a while I was one away from the counter. The overly suntanned guy in front of me was busy talking to the turban wearing attendant at a speed and pitch reserved for dogs and IPL wicket keepers so I knew I was in trouble. Then it was my turn.
"Could I have a receipt for pump No.5 please ?"
The attendant, recently rejected for a Mumbai call centre position, looked blankly at me. I guess he wasn't used to anyone speaking to him at all unless it was to ask for the price of a Mars bar and 2 packets of smokey bacon and pickled onion chips/crisps. I offered up a bit more information to try and help him understand.
"I paid at the pump by credit card but the machine didn't print my receipt so either it's faulty or more likely, its printer has run out of paper. Can you print the receipt for me ?"
He looked at his screen, tried to swing it round towards me and with a combination of poor English and sign language, he either told me the machine at the pump prints the receipts or my chicken vindaloo was ready for collection. I'm not sure which.
"No, that's my point. The machine did NOT print my receipt as it's probably out of paper. Can you print it here ?" I was rapidly losing it.
I mean it's not rocket science is it. I'm not asking him the $million question here am I ?
He kept telling me, I think, that I should get the receipt from the machine although why that was being reinforced by his trying to show me his little screen was beyond me. Maybe it showed "receipt printed" or something.
I tried again and, as is usual in these situations, I spoke louder and more slowly ! Yeah, like that worked !
In the end he got the message but said he couldn't print the receipt on his machine and would have to give me a manual hand written one. He didn't use those words of course as he hadn't got to that chapter in his "Basic English For Dummies" book.
So he left his assistant (ha !) in charge and went into the back. Returning a while later with a pad of receipts, he asked how many litres did I get ? Eh ? How did I know !! I told him the cost and he got out a calculator to work out the number of litres. Now all this time I wished I'd not bothered as I knew I'd be scrunching up and tossing the receipt anyway but by now I was locked into getting it.
Reminding him again to get some paper in the machine, I left the shop berating myelf for even going in.
That was numpty No.1.
Numpty No.2 was at a Currys store in town. Now as in America, electronic type stores (like Circuit City) are having a hard time these days with so many people buying their goods via the internet. Many stores now look like they're going out of business and the staff display no enthusiasm about working there.
Still, that's not my problem and I was prepared to make someones day by actually making a purchase.
"Can I help you, sir ?" said the middle aged and yet still spotty faced employee with as much feeling and sincerity as he could muster.
"Yes I'd like to buy something that copies a vhs tape to a dvd via a computer."
"Ohhh tapes are old technology now sir. Nobody wants them anymore."
"No shit, Sherlock, that's why I want to copy mine to dvd, you silly little man."
I thought that but didn't actually say it. What I did say was.......
"Yes I know that but what do you have that will let me copy tapes to a computer?"
"Oh there is nothing to do that, sir. Old technology you know."
"Look you puss faced blethering idiot, there are at least 4 products on the market for copying tapes to dvd so you need to go away and be retrained so you know what you're talking about or better still, just go away."
Again those were only my thoughts.
I walked away and searched the shelves and found Dazzle - a product for copying vhs tapes to dvd via your computer. I took it to Mr. Numpty and amazed him by showing him something which in his world, didn't exist.
"Didn't know we had that. Not my dept, you see."
"Not your career either, matey."
I decided to call it a day and came home before meeting punker No.3. I just knew he would be out there somewhere so he'll have to wait for another day.
I hate 'real world' shopping as it is and these people only make me want to use the internet more. I ordered a new rechargeable toothbrush, a dvd and a combination microwave oven via Amazon and now waiting for the delivery is a bit like being a kid at Christmas.
No numptys, no language problems and something to unwrap. Oh and free shipping.
When they start selling petrol over the internet, my life will be complete !