Who let them loose in a shop!

I KNOW a newsagent’s shop — one of many I frequent — where the bloke behind the counter is a mealy-mouthed, sour, monosyllabic, taciturn, vinegary old fool.

I don’t mind this. I know we can’t all be the same. Some people out there have to be the tossers.

What I don’t understand is how he got to be standing on the other side of a counter in a shop that is frequented every moment of the working day by human beings.

If he were an executioner, or a sewer inspector, or even a chemical warfare scientist whose only company was mutant rats, I could understand it. While these jobs don’t actually require you to be surly, they don’t demand a jolly personality either.

But who let him loose in a shop!

His wife’s the same. I’m sure the children who go in there don’t come out. They are fattened, baked and eaten.

And what’s worse is — they own it. They are not being forced to work with the public. They do it by choice.

How? How!

Did they sit up in bed with their tea and biscuits one morning, at the weekend, when he wasn’t torturing illegal immigrants and she wasn’t terrorising the aged victims of a nursing home for the elderly and infirm, and say to each other: “I know what we’d be good at — running a shop! Let’s open a newsagents.”

They are not alone. I know a restaurant run by their brother and sister.

Do they look in the mirror in the mornings and see a face that is Good With People?

Have they ever smiled? Is there nothing that cracks the grim, grey, concrete ruin of their faces? Nothing other than roadkill, that is.

Or do they spend their evenings plotting new and interesting ways of upsetting nice people. Is that how they come to own a shop?

Well I’ve had enough.

I thought the idea of service was that I went in with my money, and they smiled at me, made me welcome, commented on the weather, asked me if there was anything else they could do for me, and sent me on my way with a warm feeling of general well-being and affection for the human race.

It is not meant to be the other way round! It is not my job to jolly them out of it! It is not my job to tiptoe round their churlish ignorance while they take my money.

And I am not going to do it any more.

There are lots — dozens — of newsagents in Townsville where one can feel valued. Likewise restaurants.

I suggest we form a club. We’ll have little cards printed which will say something like: “I’d like to thank you for the service you have given me, but that’s impossible. You are an evil, boorish and truculent old fool who deserves to go broke. I hope you do. I am not coming back and I am going to urge all my friends to do the same.”

It probably won’t work, but it will be fun.