Thursday, December 12, 2013
Sale Or Return - Thursday
Diverted to some early doors Christmas shopping, after standing on a doorstep for twenty minutes waiting for a viewer who didn’t turn up. Must remember to delete them from the mailing list when I get back to the office.
‘Big issue madam?’ Asks a swarthy Eastern European man in heavily accented English. I’m just forming a sarcastic reply, when I realise he’s addressing the woman hurrying the other way. She’s late for work; the Bulgarian is looking for work – and of course, a home. Not sure any Government can solve our burgeoning housing crisis. I certainly can’t, so it’s a supermarket sweep style dash round the department store to buy presents for my wife.
This early, the road sweepers are still brushing up the detritus from last night’s takeaways. And delivery vans are disgorging pallets of cheap Chinese tat for the pop-up shops in vacant retail units, to flog.
Stepping round a coagulated slick of vomit even the pigeons aren’t eating, I make a beeline for the opposition agents’ windows. I prefer spying on their displays when there is nobody in, but some are still holding their morning meetings and some clearly don’t bother. Irritatingly, I spot several homes I valued and failed to get instructed on. They are all on for too much money – at least I hope they are…
‘Morning Sir.’ Trills an overdressed girl on the perfume counter as I enter the dated store, one whose days must surely be numbered as the march of Internet shopping continues. But then they said that about estate agency a decade ago and we’re still here. I grunt an acknowledgement back. At least she got my gender right.
‘Can I help you with anything?’ Presses the assistant. Good persistence, but a closed question - my sales head is always on. I bought the perfume at duty free in the summer, this is a much more challenging task. I ask where ladies lingerie is, cheeks blushing already.
‘Third floor sir.’ Says the girl with a knowing smile before adding. ‘Do you know her size?’ I answer in the affirmative. I imagine she gets a fair few blokes buying for themselves – one way or another.
I hobble up the stairs. I’ve been in enough dodgy lifts to last a lifetime, and with the shop girl’s question ringing in my ears, I remove the hand-written note from my wallet. Ferreting in the airing cupboard, then my wife’s underwear drawer for sizes wasn’t the most relaxed start to the day. I really don’t need to answer a withering: ‘What on earth do you think you’re doing in there?’ question, more than once in my life.
I should just get a voucher, or if it must be clothing take a safer option, but there’s only so many scarves and pairs of socks you can buy. I walked straight past Ann Summers though, their outfits I find a bit tarty and the material is unbelievably scratchy. What? It was a fancy dress party actually – so don’t judge me.
‘Terrific.’ I mumble to myself. The nightwear and underwear section is on the far side of the floor. I can feel the underemployed assistants watching me as I shuffle towards the big pants section. Worse still there’s a pretty woman holding a bra and knickers set against herself as I walk past the designer gear. I strive for eye contact in sales situations, but my head is so far down I barrel into a dummy in a basque and find myself grabbing a rigid pretend woman by the waist to stop her tipping over - again not for the first time...
‘Would you like a gift receipt with that?’ Asks the young girl packing my purchase. Is it that obvious the item will be coming back on the first shopping day in January? I tell her yes.
‘And you’re sure on the size?’ Continues the assistant breezily. Not really. Why are they always between sizes? Either way I’m likely to cause offence. I plumped for the larger. Psychologically, it’s a better fit.
‘How did it go?’ Asks negotiator S, back at the office. She’s probably referring to the aborted viewing, but I cover it.
‘A bit of a let down.’
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