Last night I popped into Halfords (For those not familiar, Halfords is a British motor factors specialising in Bicycles, furry dice and air fresheners in the shape of steering wheels. The key skill of all Halfords employees is to know fuck all about cars and everything about the latest offers on screenwash) to purchase a new brake light bulb for the Vectra. I used to work in one of the Liverpool branches of Halfords a long time ago and I had a bloody good time working there. I even had the boiler suit and did the funny little Kwik Fit dance for a shiny tuppence and a handful of grapes. These days the staff wear smart shirts and ties. They look like utter cocks.
Anyways, I go in through the main door and there, before my eyes were 4 sales assistants loitering and accosting customers with a cheery "Hello Can I help?". Behind them, lurking amongst the go faster stripes, stood a young besuited gentleman with "manager" written all over him (though not literally, but that might have been fun to see). With him an attractive young lady with a clip board. I managed to get a cursory "Alright mate?" from the shop assistant stood in my path. Now I'm one of those customers that if I need help, I'll go and find it and only after a thorough look round, a lot of head scratching and a period of trying to look like I know what I'm doing. I flashed him a "Dont bother me smile" and slipped by. The young lady with the clipboard ticked one of her little boxes and her burning eyes followed me.
It struck me that the manager had obviously been on some cock arse corporate training course about how to make a better shop or something. The type of course designed by some (probably American) graduate of Shop Engineering who had obviously not spend more than a week working on a shop floor in his life. I pitied the staff. I really did.
I wandered round looking for the bulbs attempting to convey the "I've got a purpose" atmosphere that usually repels shop assistants. I could see various other male customers doing the same. Skirting around aisles and desperately trying to avoid shop assistants gazes. One poor chap accidentally caught the eye of the manager who, trapping the customer between the Haynes manuals and the spark plugs, swooped in for the kill.
"Can I help?"
"No I was ju..."
"CAN I help you?
"No thanks bu.."
"Can I HELP you?"
"Noooooo save me arrrgh!"
His cries resounded around the shop and some of the other customers tried to make a move toward the door in terror. I used the distraction to sneak by undetected firing off a glare that could give someone measels to the manager as he feasted on the helplessness of his victim.
I made it to the bulb section and skillfully flipped through the part catalogue in an attempt to locate the correct bulb code I required. As I did so another customer approached my position. He looked like he had been hiding in the store for some years. His clothes bedraggled, his face drawn and dirty. I looked upon this chap with pity as he attempted to use my aura of protection to escape his prison. I located the bulb I required and said "Lets go" to my fellow customer. I led him down the car stereos aisle and we passed the body styling section.
There ahead was our goal, the checkout. We awaited an opportunity to make our escape. It may have been too late. My fellow customer decided the lure of the novelty sunshades was too much and he made his way toward them. I swear I couldnt help him. I watched in horror as legion upon legion of shop assistant assailed his person.
"Can I help you? Can I help you?" I can still hear that mantra now. Haunting my ears, the look of horror on my companions face haunting my dreams. Eventually an assistant swiped my purchase through the barcode scanner...
"£12.99 please" he said in a depressed tone. Obviously his position as checkout operator prevented him joining in the feast.
I paid and left...glancing only once over my shoulder to witness the assistants accost some new arrivals
"Can I help you?"