Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sodomy by electric eel and the exciting world of customer service

A while ago I was standing around La Trobe University waiting for the Baron to call (I didn't have any credit on my phone) and walking around in ever more erratic figures looking for the right building to disappear into. I was quite confused, a little bit puzzled, and completely lost. After a little while I happened to bump into a woman who, with solicitous concern for my welfare, must have noticed that this tall messy bearded person walking in eccentric polygons all over the courtyard, looking lost, probably was lost. She asked the natural question: "Are you lost?"

To which my natural reply was, naturally: "NO THANK YOU QUITE ALL RIGHT GOOD BYE THANK YOU!" And walked very quickly in the opposite direction where I could be lost in peace.

I have a thing. My thing is this: people helping me: I hate it.

Quite why it is that I should be so terrified of the helpful prospect of helpful people helping me when I need help, I do not know. But almost every other day (I am, as you can imagine, one of the most helpless individuals on the planet when plonked out of my familiar environment) I run into more examples of this. I'm even worse than normal when people approach me in shops and asking, "Can I help you?" (Why do they seem to do this more in some stores than others?) Their use of the word "help" somehow makes the situation even more excruciating, and, I am ashamed to say, my response to their pleasant offer to assist me in order to facilitate a commercial exchange of money is often met with a curt response on my part, more or less along the same lines I have described above: loud denial accompanied by the speaker walking in the opposite direction. (Ask the Baron. She's been there when it's happened.)

Tip to all shop assistants who want to sell something to me: next time you approach me, why not say: "Can I tip a vat of liquid elephant manure over your head?" I might even say "Yes". Then you might just be able to sell me whatever you like. (Other useful variants to this line may include: "May I poke Ottoman sabres through your heart?" "Would you like to be sodomised by this electric eel?")

Worst of all, for some reason, is when it happens in the chemist. Of all terrifying, awful, and frankly rather embarrassing situations, standing around in the chemist and suddenly being approached by a pleasant person tenderly inquiring if I might need some help is just the pits. Really, I could be coughing up blood, have two legs rotting off with gangrene, my arms lying limp, bloodied, and useless at my side, and my head lolling at a quaint angle suggesting a very painful broken bone, and if somebody were to approach me in that situation asking if I needed help, then I am really not sure whether my answer would be "Yes" or not. I might very well deploy my standard defence, yelp out my predictable denial, and walk - well, crawl, perhaps - very quickly in the opposite direction before the dreaded help could arrive. It's my thing, you see. Help: I do not like it.

The metamorphosis of me into cranky old man continues apace, as you may have observed. It's getting so bad, honestly, that soon I'll be getting outraged at the directions on the back of soup packets: "Boil water and mix in soup". "Well that's just bloody presumptuous, isn't it!"

So, anyway, that's my thing about help. So now that you know about it, I wonder if you might.... NO THANK YOU QUITE ALL RIGHT THANK YOU GOOD BYE GOING IN OPPOSITE DIRECTION THANK YOU NOW GOOD BYE NO!


Anonymous said...

Well next time I see you near death in the desert from lack of water remind me not too piss on you

TimT said...

No need. I carry a bottle of fresh urine with me on all occasions just in case such situations arise.

Steve said...

You're going to be a difficult older gentleman, Tim.

Your story reminded me of my mother, nearly 2 years ago now, in a period where it was becoming clear she was starting a mental decline. (She was 88 and still living independently in a retirement village.) Unbeknowst to me, she had decided to catch a bus and go independently out to the Royal National Show for the day, a trip involving about 20 km and one or two bus changes. I got a call from a concerned person in the evening that my Mum appeared quite confused and couldn't find her right bus home in the city.

Anyway, she did get back safely, and she was telling me on her return that when she was wandering around the city trying to find the right bus station, two different blokes had approached her with concern as to whether she needed help, and she was very offended that they had even asked and rejected any help. (It was a woman who had rung me.)

(Mum's still alive but living in a low care place now which is apparently haunted. But that's another story.)

Anyway, perhaps when you're 80, you should have the Baron sew a sign on the back of all your jackets: "Don't worry, he's always rejected help, but he probably is lost. Please ring ........"

I would agree with you about Pharmacy help, though. It continually annoys me that the shop assistants in Pharmacies expect you to disclose your potentially embarrassing health problem to them. This is particularly an issue for men, as I doubt I have ever, anywhere in the world, seen a male shop assistant in a pharmacy. It seems to be a job completely reserved for women, most of them under the age of 25, and with whom I don't like to discuss rashes in locations not normally available for viewing by the public (for example), and of whom I do not expect any expertise in choosing medication anyway.

TimT said...

I like your suggestion about the sign. I think I'll print one out now just in case. Better safe than sorry!

Email: timhtrain - at -

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