Saturday, 24 February 2018

There ain’t no pleasing you

I like a challenge, I do. But a challenge has got to be within reason, right? Otherwise it’s just like trying to cross the Sahara on chocolate skis – or trying to stop TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) being a shit manager: it’s pointless, exhausting and doomed to failure.

Photo: Lenny Flank, Flikr

Sometimes it’s just too hard. Sometimes the challenge is too great. Sometimes that customer who’s just walked in (oh lucky me), is just too much of a mountain to climb. This is a (mostly) word for word conversation I had with one such creature the other day:

Customer (pointing to a top): “I’m looking for something similar to this. What do you have?”
Me: (pointing to a similar top to that): “We have this.”
Customer: “No, too long.”
Me: “How about this?”
Customer: “Too baggy.”
Me: “OK…what about this one?”
Customer: “I don’t like linen.”
Me: “That one over there?”
Customer: “The blue is too pale.”
Me: “This one?”
Customer: “That’s too fitted.”
Me: “That one?”
Customer: “Too flouncy.”
Me: “This?”
Customer: “Bad material.”
Me: “………….”
Original photo: Greg Westfall, Flikr

At this point my, ‘ever so helpful and lovely sales assistant,’ act was wearing ever so slightly thin, and the whole thing was clearly not proceeding in the way either of us were happy with. So I pulled out the big guns (not those, filth-brain – it was far too cold for any of that), and gazed at her pleadingly with my best, “please just give it up and walk away,” eyes. She blinked back at me with a look that somehow managed to combine slightly disconcerting blankness with weary disapproval and entitled expectation.

And so we carried on….

Me: “This one?”
Customer: “That’s too short.”
Me: “That?”
Customer: “I don’t like black.”
Me: “This?”
Customer: “No, that’s sort of cheesecloth.”

Images of Goldilocks and The Three Bears flashed inside my brain - except Goldilocks had the good grace to put up with option number three at each stage of her endeavour. This woman was up to number two dozen or something (well, that’s what it felt like), and was, for the love of god, still going:

Me: “This?”
Customer: “I’ve got something like that already.”
Me: “This?”
Customer: “No, that’s too whimsical.” (Too whimsical FFS!!)
Me: “This?”
Customer: “No…it’s not….no.”

And that was it. We’d reached the end. We’d run out of options (and there had been surprisingly many).

By this time I’d convinced myself she was some sort of secret shopper Stasi operative designed to test my resolve, knowledge and patience to the very edge of its limits (which, to be fair, isn’t very far), and because I failed she was now going to inject me with the tip of her perfectly polished heel and I’d sink down forever into retail hell (because, of course, retail is hell. And after all…..

‘The devil is in the retail’


But what actually happened was she looked genuinely crestfallen when I told her I didn’t have anything else to offer her, and even managed to get me feeling both immensely sorry for her and guilty about the shops stupid lack of suitable styles.

So whilst she was little Ms Pernickety Goldilocks on pernickety steroids, and I ended up feeling guilty.

Damn, she’s clever.

I hope I never ever see her again.

Picture: Clkr vector-free-images, Pixabay

Saturday, 10 February 2018

The Spy Who Loathed Me

OK, let’s start with the statistics:


  1. There are three people who work in this company: TBE (aka The Boss Erratic), Colleague Crafty and me. That’s not even enough to fill a taxi.
  2. The Out Of Favour (OOF) shop (where I work) is about twenty seconds away from the New Favourite (NF) shop (where I don’t work), which is just around the corner.
  3. Until the day both shops become self-service operations (oh, wouldn’t TBE love that: no staff [i.e. me] to whine on about employment rights), there is one of us working in each shop. That’s two thirds of the workforce hanging out within twenty seconds touching distance of each other at any one time.
  4. Given this arrangement, there is a high probability that when I am working in the OOF shop, TBE is very often just around the corner in the NF shop; twenty seconds away.
  5. That’s twenty seconds away. TBE is twenty seconds away. Very frequently.
  6. I haven’t clapped eyes on TBE for three and a half months.
  7. Three and a half months.
  8. Three and a half months is a long time.
  9. Three and a half months is at least fourteen weeks.
  10. Three and a half months is over a quarter of a year.
She’s just disappeared. Run away. Gone. Totally absent.

Actually, I should clarify this. When I say run away, what I mean is, she’s run away from me. And it isn’t the first time. She’s learnt by now she can’t sack or constructively dismiss me every time I inconveniently (but professionally and logically – which appears to wind her up somewhat) hold her to account for being massively pants about shop stuff. So she takes the only other route available to her – she runs away from me.

And when I say runs away from me, what I mean is, she hides twenty seconds away - in the NF shop. Yep, Lord Lucan she is not.

I don’t know if she thinks I don’t know, or whether it just hasn’t occurred to her, but the trouble with working in an environment with lots of chatty customers is they, um, chat:

I’ve just had a lovely chat with (TBE) over in the other shop.”
Oh, have you?”
She’s alive then? Not dragged away months ago by marauding health andsafety officials?

Doesn’t she look lovely with her new look hair colour? She looks so different!”
Does she?”
She’s changed her appearance? She must be absolutely desperate to avoid me.

She just never stops, does she?!”
Doesn’t she?”
Yeah, never stops avoiding me.

She’s never away from that shop, is she?”
Isn’t she?”
Are you sure she hasn’t just accidently locked herself in again? (It wouldn’t be the first time. I’m not joking).

Oh, doesn’t TBE work hard?!”
Does she?”
Are we talking about the same person?

It’s not the customers’ fault. They don’t know they’re supposed to be keeping a secret. They don’t know that the woman working twenty seconds away has been hiding from me for so long, she could have walked to frigging Lapland and back in the time since I last saw her (It’s true! Look it up: 30 miles/day). They don’t know because, if TBE were to tell them it would make her look like a cowardly, unpleasant, incompetent, neglectful, fair-weather boss. And, as we all know, she’s not that at all, she’s simply absolutely lovely!!!

Mind you, out of sight is not out of mind, apparently. It seems TBE thinks about me a lot, mainly because, to avoid someone in this tiny town you need to know where that person is at all times. You need knowledge. You need planning. And you need cunning.

If only TBE approached the running of her shops the way she approaches avoiding me, eh?

Another thing about a tiny town: it has eyes. Lots of them. So when TBE quietly and stealthily creeps up to, and peers around the corner in-between the NF shop and the OOF shop in order to make sure the coast is clear (i.e. I’m not outside the OOF shop), before she legs it across the road and up the street (presumably to the cake shop), she’s not doing it unobserved.

She might think she’s unobserved, but she’s not unobserved. She is most definitely observed. And I am told.


How many times has she done this in the three and a half months (THREE AND A HALF MONTHS!) since I’ve seen her? Dozens probably.

Maybe TBE should use this methodology in the staff training sessions: if you don’t like something, don’t deal with it, just watch it from afar and run away from it for as long as possible.

I’m being silly of course: there are no staff training sessions.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Some people are born with it; the rest of us are just jealous

Consider the fashionistas. Those effortlessly sartorially gifted people who waft about in unique, glamorously styled outfits, leaving a trail of awe, wonder and dropped jaws in their wake.

Well, here at the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop we are lucky to have two such marvellous creatures in our midst.

Separately, they are a truly eye-watering sight to behold; together, they are practically traffic-stopping. Literally. I have literally seen traffic screech to a halt to let these two sashay across the road (truth be told it was either that or run them over: fashion diva school clearly doesn’t cover the Green Cross Code).

Theirs is a sea of colour; a truly eye-catching conglomeration of fabric styles, patterns, textures and layers.

Such is their impact upon our little market town, they rarely venture out unaccompanied by their ‘minder’.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Tea and sympathy. Without the tea. Or the sympathy

The January blues. Everybody gets them. Why wouldn’t you?: It’s grey and dull and cold and depressing outside, everybody is skint and inexplicably still post-Christmas knackered, and everyone is contemplating a Brave New World of chocolate free, joy free meals consisting entirely of lettuce spaghetti and tomato fillets (or maybe that’s just me).

So I do understand it’s a tough time of year, I really do. I sympathise with anyone feeling down, but, can I say this whilst sounding as warm-hearted and generous as I can… For Christ’s sake keep it out of the shop, it’s boring listening to you droning on, and, quite frankly, it’s bringing me down.

Picture: Images, Pixabay

Saturday, 6 January 2018

How to offend everybody, without even trying

Do you want to see a magic trick? I’ll show you a magic trick. I’ll show you how to offend every single customer in the course of a day without even trying.

It’s not my fault. Well, it might be my fault, but I didn’t mean it to be my fault.

I was trying to be subtle.

It’s like this: TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) is still successfully doing a swerve on obtaining a public Performing Rights Society (PRS) licence to play music in the shop (of course she is), so I can still only play royalty free music. Royalty free music is the audio equivalent of tearing off a massively sticky plaster from a hairy limb really really slowly whilst simultaneously stubbing your toe on a hot poker (i.e. It’s eye-wateringly, brain-shockingly, painfully, dreadful).

Original photo: congerdesign, Pixabay

This has been going on for about ten months now, and this week, I thought:

No more! I rebel! I WILL play a normal CD and the consequences be damned!

Friday, 22 December 2017

Oh Lord, it’s Christmas in the Out Of Favour Shop. Bah Humbug (obviously).

Oh I can’t be doing with all this Christmas giddiness. Get a grip everyone.

Firstly, all the kids are going nuts over the annual bowl of free Christmas chocolates in the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop. Calm down kids, they’re the same chocolates from last year. Literally the same chocolates (probably). They’re cheap, nasty and taste like shite. I know this because I’ve eaten most of them out of sheer boredom. Now I feel sick.

Take note kids, too much chocolate turns you into an evil psychopath. Photo: Mojpe, Pixabay

Friday, 15 December 2017

TBE, Water and Glass: a Pathetic Potted History

So this week it’s all about pot plants. And glass vases. And TBE (aka The Boss Erratic). Of course.

Ah, the pot plants…..

Only TBE could make pot plants controversial (plants in pots, not the other type. Christ, if she had any of that she’d be hands-down The Most Annoying Stoner Ever. I’ve already seen her drunk, and it is not a pretty sight).

Friday, 1 December 2017

MAMAA: get your shit together - and stop talking

Mr Schadenfreude Socialist is in again. He’s definitely my most frequent, and tedious, MAMAA (Middle Aged Men Always Around). He keeps banging on about his cherries. And his veg.

Apparently his cherries are bigger and more numerous than anyone else’s. And people would marvel at the size and freshness of his vegetables if only he was given the chance to show them off.

Photo: Momentmal, Pixabay

Friday, 24 November 2017

A day in the life. Or: dear God rescue me from all this broken shit

Everything is broken in the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop. Everything. This is a typical day. I’m not even joking:

The front door
The door is not my friend: the lock jams and the door itself sticks. Consequently, I have to play, ‘push-me-pull-you,’ with increasing vigour - and temper - whilst hunched over the doorway like the world’s crappiest lock-picker for a five full minutes every morning. That’s every morning; for months. This does not make me happy.

The coffee machine
I turn the coffee machine on and it begins to leak. I put a dinner plate underneath to catch the drips. The machine has been leaking for, perhaps, three months now. Apparently getting an engineer to fix the thing is a ridiculously unthinkable idea (see also: Servicing/ behaving like a mature, responsible shop owner), so it just gets worse, day by day. The plate is full after twenty minutes. It is extremely important I remember to empty the plate in a timely manner, otherwise the overflow will rain down onto the OOF Shop Plug-Extension-Lead Modern Art Installation, which TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) has positioned, rather astoundingly, underneath the coffee machine.

The OOF Shop Plug-Extension-Lead-Modern-Art-Installation.
Under the coffee machine
Photo: Shop Girl Tales

This morning, the coffee machine springs two leaks instead of the usual one. Water pools all over the counter. I manage to shove a second plate underneath the newcomer leak, and then pointlessly write yet another doomed message to TBE in the message book. Then I take the liberty of swearing liberally to myself.

Friday, 17 November 2017

I think you might be flogging a dead cow, love

TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) has gone bonkers.

Yes, I know, but even more bonkers than usual.

She seems to have lost her mind over a pint of milk. Well, an ex-pint of milk. Actually, a pint of milk that never was. Well it was, it just wasn’t when I found it.

Picture: creades, Pixabay

OK, let me explain properly: I threw away a pint of milk because it was off, despite it only having been bought the day before by Colleague Craft(y) for the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop cafe. Then I bought another pint to replace it.

That’s it.

I left the receipt and a little note to explain why a second pint of milk had been bought in as many days, and thought no more about it*.

*If you’re new to this blog you might reasonably assume that the purchase of two pints of milk in two days is extremely conservative for a café. Unnaturally so. And you’re right, it is. But then, you’re probably under the misapprehension that the OOF shop café is normal. It is not. Apart from anything else, it doesn’t have a working coffee machine.....

Anyway, that was the wrong thing to do, apparently.

Friday, 29 September 2017

The MAMAA Returns

Right, so you all know by now that your average high frequency MAMAA (Middle Aged Man Always Around) is under the tragic misapprehension that I delight in their glittering company and, during their regretful absences, yearn for their swift return in order to hear more of their enthralling stories and wondrous escapades, right?

Given this sad state of affairs it logically follows that a long-term absentee MAMAA, returning after many months, is almost bleedin’ unbearable.

MAMAA Yorkshire Casanova, turned up yesterday (calm down, he’s really not worth your hopeful imagination).
No....... Photo: skeeze, Pixabay.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Say what now?

Call me old fashioned, but I am of the mind that a conversation should really make sense to both parties taking part. Isn’t it just plain rudeness for one party to carry on regardless of the obvious slack-jawed confusion playing about the face of their fellow conversationalist?

Here’s a tip: if the person standing in front of you looks massively puzzled and clearly has no idea what you're banging on about, stop bloody talking gibberish. 

Try to actually make sense. 

I know it takes some effort, but for the love of god, take a good look at yourself and reign it in. Don’t witter lazily away, zig-zagging this way and that like some self-absorbed linguistic equivalent of a downhill skier on a freshly snowed-on black run. 

Give us all a break, no one should have to work so hard. 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The topiary trees and the customers: a cautionary tale

Why is everything TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) does the retail equivalent of wearing a fur coat and no knickers? It looks good on the surface, (if you like that sort of thing), but underneath it’s all total disorganised carnage.

(OK, probably best to pop a quick note in here: I have no idea what your nether regions look like, and I’m certainly not saying that everyone’s knickerless loveliness is disorganised carnage. I mean, it might be, but that’s your business, not mine. No, this is simply a metaphor for how generally shit TBE is about the stuff behind the gorgeous image. But you get that, don’t you?).

Definitely best kept covered........Photo: Shop Girl Tales.

So, the latest idea is two 5ft high, puffball shaped topiary trees, one either side of the doorway to the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop.

I can’t deny they look gorgeous. I can’t deny they make the tatty outside of the shop look attractive. And I can’t deny the customers really like them.

Unfortunately, so do the wasps.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Another nail in the Coffee Coffin...

The coffee machine has basically had it. I think it’s seen what a clusterfuck the Out Of Favour shop has become and has decided to slowly shut itself down in order to escape.

Picture:kerttu, Pixaby

The latest bit to go on strike is the steam/ milk frother spout.

For those of you happily uninitiated in the ways of barista-ism, there are three, ‘stick your cup under,’ parts on even the most basic commercial coffee machines, (which, of course, is what the Out Of Favour shop has):

1) The circular bit that grabs onto the big spoon thingy full of ground coffee, and filters hot water through it; 2) The hot water spout – like a kettle, only posher; 3) The steam spout – for frothing milk and generally burning your hands.

The steam spout is pretty much essential. Without it there is no frothy milk – and no frothy milk means no cappuccinos and lattes.

Obviously, not having a working frothy spout thing is a fairly massive problem for a coffee shop, and in any normal shop, with a normal boss, it would cause panic and an undignified scrabble to get it fixed as soon as possible.

But I don’t work for a normal boss. I work for The Boss Erratic (TBE), and clearly she doesn’t see this as the problem I do.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Clueless conversations and mysterious MAMAAs

Skills are great, aren’t they? Who doesn’t love a skill? And who can think badly of a workplace that develops and nurtures skills?

Working in the Out Of Favour Shop, for example, has allowed me to develop the, frankly, amazing skill of successfully holding a lengthy conversation with someone without having the first clue what we’re talking about.

"Hi there, I'm fascinating." Original image: Prawny, Pixabay

Friday, 21 July 2017

Shop mannequins: white trash

This shop is where mannequins come to die. Or, more specifically, be killed. They’re beaten up, neglected and sworn at (the last one might just be me).

First there was Wobbly Wendy. She used to lean awkwardly into the corner between the till and the wall because she had no base plate. Any time a customer wanted to look at the clothes she was wearing I had to warn them to stand back in case Wendy suddenly took a lunge at them whilst I was trying to get her kit off and took their eye out. Either that or she’d slide resolutely to the floor and refuse to get up.

Photo: Free-photos, Pixabay

Months later I found Wendy’s base plate base in the kitchen. There was no need for Wendy to be wobbly at all.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Archaeology and Agatha Christie. Or not

Why do I always end up in conversations with customers on subjects I know nothing about?

This week’s gem was all about Amelia Peabody. Now, you may know everything there is to know about Amelia Peabody, but I’ve never heard of her and wouldn’t know her from a tin of peaches. Not that it made any difference to the customer. She wanted to talk about Amelia Peabody, so talk about Amelia Peabody we did:  

Amelia Peabody, apparently (but not that Amelia Peabody). Picture source:

Saturday, 8 July 2017

The cafe that never was.....

Oh my goodness! Have you heard about the fabulous new café in town?!

It’s the Jewel in the Crown of the New Favourite (NF) Shop! It’s the last word in cafes! It’s the holy grail of good food, good beverages and good atmosphere! The décor is amazing! The cakes are to die for! It’s hands down the best place to grab a bite and a cuppa for miles around!

Photo: woodypino, Pixabay

Except it’s not, because it doesn’t exist.

Friday, 23 June 2017

A right royal headache

Original picture: Clker-free-Vector-Images, Pixabay
I think TBE (aka The Boss Erratic) has secretly joined the CIA.

She’s joined the CIA and she’s using their unbearably effective tactics on me until I collapse into a broken heap in a dark corner of the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop and promise to tell her whatever she wants to hear……

“Yes (TBE), you are SUCH a brilliant manager! Yes, everyone loves your oh-so-quirky-and-not-annoying-at-all-ways! Yes, it’s such an honour to work for someone as great as you that I would be happy to work for almost nothing!”

Why else would she be torturing me? All day, every day. Constantly. With no respite.

I can’t stand it.

It’s driving me insane. I just can’t take it any longer.

She is torturing me – with whales.