Archive for February 15th, 2007

Like Shoe Business

At times I frown at the depths of my own cynicism. A couple of months ago I went into a shoe shop that sells only one particular brand of shoe. I don’t know if the shop is a franchise or owned by the manufacturer, but that’s not important right now. I tried on a couple of different pairs, and picked out one pair. It so happened that I was wearing the same brand of shoe that the shop sells, and when I approached the counter to pay for the shoes I had chosen, the girl behind the counter said:

“So, are you a fan of (the brand name which shall remain brandless)?”

To be fair to the girl, I am now sure this was just her way of making polite conversation, just as other people talk about the weather, or the number of people in town or what have you. Yet, and this is where the cynicism comes in, I immediately took her words to be part of some sort of pre-rehearsed butter-up-the-idiot-customer spiel. So, rather than smile and nod, or whatever it is that you’re supposed to do when asked a dumb question, I paused. Then I raised my eyebrows (I can’t do only one eyebrow). And I peered at her over the rim of my imaginary pair of glasses and said:

“Well, if it’s somehow possible to be a fan of a shoe, then I suppose I must be.”

Which was neither witty nor particularly nice. She smiled, but behind the smile was a poorly concealed “oookay, whatever, asshole”, which was probably justified. But -and this is the point- would it have been any better for me to have simply said, yeah, I’m really a fan of your shoes? I think I’ve reached a stage where I can’t bear conversations like this anymore, where people talk openly and honestly about love for mass manufactured items. I have nothing against such items, but people blathering on about them make me feel like I’m suffering brain death by a thousand stupid cuts.

Small talk – the weather, the roads, the, ah, weather- is fine, I suppose, and there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘your coat looks fabulous’ but people getting unduly excited about stuff -or, even worse, cool stuff– and rhapsodising about how wonderful it is, that just does my nut.

I would prefer not to be this way, especially as I’m starting to feel like I’m from another planet.

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