Warning: May cause irritation

Is it just me or do these things cause irritation to you too?

When I kiss my wife goodbye as she leaves for work it is wholly appropriate for her to say, “See you later” because, notwithstanding any catastrophic natural disaster, this is the place she will return to after work and this is the place where I will be awaiting her return. It kind of makes sense. What does not make sense is when the checkout lady in the supermarket tells me she will see me later when she has absolutely no idea who I am or what my plans are for the rest of the day. The odds of our paths crossing later that day seem extremely remote to me unless she knows that the milk she just sold me is off, or she is planning on following me home and surprising me with flowers and a bottle of merlot. It seems much more likely to me that she will most certainly not see me later so what is the point of saying it? It’s not as if there aren’t alternative ways of terminating the transaction. What’s wrong with ‘good bye’ or ‘cheerio’? I would even settle for ‘see you’ on the basis that it doesn’t really mean anything at all and definitely isn’t a declaration of an intended rendezvous at some point later in the day. Who are these people that seem to be able to look into my soul and predict my immediate future? I always leave the situation muttering under my breath; “Oh yes and how will that work exactly? I mean you don’t know me and I don’t know you. I presume you don’t know where I live and since I have no intention of coming back to this shop today how can you be so confident that you will ‘see me later’? One of these days I’m going to try that conversation just to see what reaction I get.

Here’s another one that really gets my goat. (That saying is probably worth further investigation in the future too.) When you get to the end of a telephone conversation with just about anybody but your mother these days and the person at the other end says; “Is there anything else that I can help you with today?” NO THERE IS NOT! There is not because we have done precisely what I phoned up to achieve and I made it clear to you what the purpose of the call was right at the beginning. It was less than two minutes ago so I thought you might recall it! I mean I thought we had things covered pretty well. I told you I wanted to change the address on my car insurance policy because I have moved house. After asking me for my old address, policy number, date of birth, inside leg measurement and the cat’s middle name we established that I am who I said I am and I gave you the new address. You read it back to me and I confirmed that it was correct. I think we are done here are we not? I mean what do they expect me to say? Oh yes of course I almost forgot, I drove the car off the Thelwall Viaduct in the rain yesterday and it’s at the bottom of the Manchester Ship Canal. Silly me.

Thelwall Viaduct

Thelwall Viaduct over The Manchester Ship Canal

Last but by no means least, and easily the most irritating of all, is when you wait patiently in the checkout queue with a bunch of flowers and a packet of paracetamol while the person in front of you has enough stuff on the conveyor to start a food bank in every town in Lancashire (because they didn’t bring a shopping list) and when you finally get to your turn, the assistant looks at you, looks at your pathetic excuse for a shop and says, “would you like any help with your packing today sir?”

Could you put them in a box please.

Could you put them in a box please.

“Well”, I reply, “since you ask yes I would actually. Please summon a member of your fine team of supermarket operatives and ask them if they could possibly furnish me with a suitable container for a bunch of flowers and a packet of pain killers. I would prefer the flowers not to be crushed but to be contained entirely within the selected box and please ensure that the small packet is safely confined and doesn’t rattle about or fall out. Furthermore I would prefer the chosen receptacle not to carry any logos or advertising referring to anything of an alcoholic nature lest I should be mistaken for a drunkard on my way to the car”.  I don’t really of course. I just say, “No thank you” through gritted teeth and wonder at what the training sessions for these poor souls must be like.

That’s all for today. See you later.

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