Friday, December 9, 2011

Humbug or Another long week at work.

Ahh, Christmas – a time of good will to all and such like, unless you’re shopping. I haven’t had much time to open a book this week partly because everything is now in full swing for the big day and even when I’m not actually working I’m mostly tending to the days cuts (two new ones because the cardboard boxes hate me) and bruises (a cracker across the back of my hand where I trapped it between a rolling cage and an immovable object – possibly another cage, possibly a wall, maybe a shelf, I was too busy swearing to notice which isn’t good because the same spot will inevitably get me again until I identify it to avoid.) After all that excitement all I really want to do is try and scrub off the dirt and sleep.

It has been a trying few days and I can’t help but feel that it’s in the public interest to share a few don’ts with you. Don’t for example ask your harassed wine merchant for a bottle of wine you think is called “Chateau de something”, adding that it may be French and probably red doesn’t actually narrow the field much. Accept that if you don’t actually know what you want you’re not in a position to ask for it, I can and will recommend something I think you might like but can’t promise that it’s the same thing you don’t know the name of.

Don’t keep asking the same question, the answer will inevitably remain the same. For example lady proffering a miniature bottle of Bailey’s “How big is this” me “it’s a miniature so 5ml’s”, “That’s quite small” “yes (not saying it but the clue’s in the name MINIATURE), “Have you got a bigger bottle?” “why yes, we have bottles and litres.” “Oh, do you have anything smaller?” “Just the miniatures.” “you see it’s for a present and I want something bigger than this but smaller than that.” “I’m sorry we only have these sizes.” picks up a bottle of something else “do you have anything in this size?” “Well we have that.” “Do you have Baileys in this size?” “No.” “But I want it in this size, are you sure you don’t have any?” “Yes, we only have the sizes I’ve shown you.” “But it’s for a present and this size would be just perfect.” “.....Can I help you with anything else at all madam?” In truth this conversation went on for a lot longer than you could believe possible and happens many times a day. I will eventually snap and say what I’m thinking and get sacked.

It’s not appropriate to say to a total stranger who’s putting bottles on a shelf that you like to see a woman on her knees. It’s really not appropriate to explain that you want German wine because it’s lower alcohol content means that you can drink a lot of it and still maintain you enthusiasm (the customer was more explicit) in the bedroom.

It’s all very well asking your wine seller to “Check out back” but out back today I had 16 cages of stock and a full cellar, each cage weighs about a third of a ton and at the moment each one is surrounded by a whole lot of other stuff. It’s not easy to find anything amongst that lot so come back later and stop bothering me be nice when you’re asking and don’t get impatient if you have to wait. We all have better things to do and whilst I’m on it “Can you show me your Chardonnay” is something that’ll take a while.

Mulled wine, Glühwein, and Glögg are essentially the same thing, we happen to sell mulled wine, if you don’t like the mulled wine we sell please consider making your own. It’s not hard and will be better than tearfully insisting that Glühwein is very different – I can’t actually do anything about it. It’s not ‘too much trouble’ to make bucks fizz. Adding fizzy wine to orange juice is unlikely to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Truthfully adding a sachet of pre mixed spices to wine isn't a big effort, and if you want a non alcoholic version adding the sachet to red grape juice isn’t a killer either.  

The answer to ‘Where is the £10 bottle of gin?” is Asda, I can’t remember what wine you might have bought from us sometime in the summer when it was on an offer, wanting something reduced because the label is slightly damaged AND YOU WANT IT FOR A PRESENT makes you sound cheap, I’m glad you’re not my friend. I look forward to Christmas being over – although before it is there will be a lot of harassed men who suddenly realise that it’s the 23rd of December and they’ve done nothing about it, and I will have said we had it until yesterday about a thousand times. 


  1. I loved this article! I feel your pain. It brought back some memories . remember the customer isn't always right. xxx

  2. Oh the afternoon of venting we could have! I work at a library and we have a cheap so-and-so customer who roots through our discards for Christmas presents. And believe me, he can afford something that hasn't had the pages torn or printed prior to 1979.

    You could write a book with anecdotes like yours, you cracked me up, but I'd say it's also time for a holiday.

  3. The general public aren't they treasures!!!!!!

  4. Ruby - I did offer you the chance to come work with us ;)

    Darlene - it's good to get it off my chest, maybe I'll write about all the really nice people deal with every day sometime, but they're not so funny...

    Jo - I'm guessing you work with them as well? I don't think it's worse at Christmas, there are just so many more of them.

  5. That did make me laugh. Mind you, we get just the same sort of thing in the library... It's so frustrating though.