My Room 101 – Shop Greeters

I’m going rather off my usual topics here and having a little rant about something in modern life I think should be consigned to Room 101*. Today’s subject will be: shop greeters.

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I’ve just come in for a banana, not a full tour of everything you sell.

In the UK this is a phenomenon that’s appeared in the last 5 years or so, and has spread quite widely across many shop chains around the country. If you go into a shop these days, you’ll be often confronted with a young (they are nearly always the younger members of staff, rarely the older ones) shop assistant standing right in front you and greeting you with a cheery ‘good morning’. If you don’t move quickly enough, they may follow up with a ‘can I help you find what you’re looking for?’. I soon got wise to that and now side-step like a top rugby winger before they can latch on to me.

So why do I dislike these greeters? I’ve got nothing against the individuals doing the job they have to do. However when I go into a shop I like to be left alone, unless I decide I need some assistance, and then I’ll ask someone. But I rarely need any assistance, as I either know what I’m going to buy, or am just having a look around has have no intention of buying anything. Also, my experience of asking for help is usually fruitless as the assistant often hasn’t a clue what I’m asking for or where it is in the shop.

One of my early experiences involved the greeter asking me what I was looking for as soon as I got through the door, not giving me any time to think or browse around. She whisked me off to the area selling what I was after and pretty much jammed it in my hand and escorted me – so very helpfully – to the checkout. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but I was going to buy several other items, but I didn’t want to turn around at the checkout and go back into the shop to find the other things. So thanks to the overly helpful greeter the shop actually sold less than they would have done if I was left in peace to select what I wanted.

Another thing I dislike about it is the false sincerity of it all. In Britain, while we respect politeness and good manners, we also like people to be natural and honest. I know these greeters couldn’t care less about the customers walking through the door, and certainly really don’t want to waste their time helping them. They are probably on the minimum wage just waiting from 5:30pm to come along so they can go home. To me it just feels very American, and something we should not adopt in this country. Surely it would be more satisfying for a member of staff to genuinely help a customer who asks for help, rather than just gormlessly grinning a cheerful hello to everyone that came through the door?

Thankfully, independent shops seem to steer clear of using greeters, mainly because they often don’t have the spare staff to do such thing and are probably aware of how irritating it is. It’s shame there are so few independent shops left these days with high streets all looking identical and anonymous now.

So this is a call to the major chain stores in the UK: please can you put a stop to these greeters, and let them go back to roaming around the shop floor, discretely keeping an eye out for customers who really do look like they want to ask for help?

*For those who aren’t familiar, Room 101 is a BBC TV programme where guests choose things they really dislike and would like to be consigned to Room 101. Room 101 originally came from the George Orwell’s novel 1984, where it was a torture chamber.

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Building my Profile

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When I decided to write this blog I was hoping to have some handy how-to style pages giving words of wisdom on many diverse topics. However, when it comes to building my on-line dating profile, this is really a I-haven’t-got-a-clue-how-to guide.

As you’ve probably realised I’m not blessed with natural beauty and an Adonis-esque physique. I never get admiring glances from women in public places, and seem invisible to the rest of the world most of the time. So I can’t just put up a picture of myself and expect the responses to come streaming in. So when it comes to a photo I really need to make the best of what I’ve got.

The other problem I’ve got, is that I don’t have photos of myself. I refuse to take selfies when I visit somewhere interesting. If I take photos of anyone, it’ll be my children or maybe friends if they are doing something worth taking a photo of (such as getting a starring role on Crimewatch or You’ve Been Framed). Any photos that others take of me, I’ll never ask for as I know what I look like, so why have them? The other main problem is that I seem to sprout a double chin whenever I appear in a photo. I really don’t photograph well. Bucks Fizz said the camera never lies. Bollocks to that Cheryl, the camera pulls more fibs than Donald Trump.

So I fiddle around with a camera on a timer trying to make myself look recognisable as me and hope for the best. At least I’m in focus, not pixelated and the right way up. Shame about the double chin.
The really hard part is writing a profile. This is where I like Tinder, you can get away with writing nothing, and even if you do want to write something you’re limited to a few sentences. So I just write some vague stuff about me being a nice person and that I don’t like nasty people. So the same as what pretty much everyone else writes.

Other sites like POF and Match.com require lengthy profiles with all sorts of sections to fill in and pull-down menus to choose options from. It’s liking filling out a job application, but without the need for references. Some parts are easy fill in, I know my height, eye colour and pet status. There’s one question that asks “How ambitious are you?”. Ambitious at what? I’m very ambitious when it comes to playing Monopoly with my kids. I’m also very ambitious when it comes to crossing the road; I’ve got a 100% success rate at that in my life, and really want to keep it that way. On the other hand, I’m not that ambitious when it comes to ironing. As long as the kids’ school uniform doesn’t look like scrunched up paper I’m fine. I’ve no ambition to iron the perfect shirt, or press every item of clothing in my house in record time.

The worst section is the ‘about me’ part, which of course is freely written. This is where I really struggle to think of anything to write. Look, I’m a dad with young children and a full-time job, I don’t have time to do amazingly interesting things any more. Watching my kids playing on slide in the local park isn’t a pastime that’s going to get anyone weak at the knees. So I basically add some vague stuff like I’ve done on Tinder, but also mention I can cook.

So I’m out there with a photo of me looking uncomfortable, and a profile than is duller than Gary Barlow reading out the telephone directory. I could make stuff up to make myself sound more interesting, and photoshop myself into someone unrecognisable; but I struggle to lie convincingly, so there’s no point trying it, and it’ll only end up in embarrassing failure when you get found out.

But you never know, I might get a few hits, as there’s got to be a lot worse profiles out there; or I might pick up the occasional one from an accidental slip of the finger.

In the Beginning…

This is the post excerpt.

This is my first attempt at blogging, so please be gentle with me. You’ll see from my ‘about’ profile, I’m a single dad who is also an engineer. So I’ll be writing about bringing up kids, the world of dating, and being an engineer. Yes, I can just hear you saying “he’s a dad and an engineer, so what chance as he got in the world of dating?”. Well, probably not a lot, but I’m going to try and have fun finding out!