Shop assistance

Tuesday 7th June 2011

WALL Space is one of my favourite local shops. Picture framers. ‘Established 22 years ago, from humble beginnings involving a garden shed and a market stall,’ says their website.

On the rare occasion that I want to purchase anything from them, I enjoy making a preliminary visit, just to browse. There aren’t many places left where you can do so without some bothersome assistant asking if they can help you.

Unlike a certain nationwide stationers, for example: the one voted Britain’s least popular shop in a recent Which? survey.

“Can I interest you in any of our offers today? Would you like stamps with those?”

If I wanted a huge bar of chocolate or postage stamps, I’d ask for them. I do have a tongue in my head. And a shopping-list.

Today it’s the turn of ‘the UK’s most trusted opticians’.

Half-term week: the place is quite busy. No doubt, mind you, that they know the difference between a bespectacled pensioner and teenagers just passing the time of day. There are leaflets advertising free varifocals. I take one from the sta—

“Hello, sir.”

She won’t know, of course, that that was one of the reasons I left teaching.

“Er… can you please explain what you mean by free vari—“

“If you’d like to come this way, sir. Do you know if you’re registered with us?”

I know I have a blind spot when it comes to a number of mathematical concepts, but, from what I can discern, from her high-speed sales pitch and calculator dexterity, it will be cheaper for me to buy two new pairs of glasses than simply having stronger lenses fitted in my current pair.

“So, don’t forget to book that eye test!” she chirrups, as I get up to leave, considerably more confused than I was when I first went in. I still haven’t worked out if ‘re-glazing’ means they’ll also come round and clean my windows or merely poke my eyes out.

I return to Wall Space, take my time choosing a frame, engage in gentle chit-chat with the bloke who works there, and make a purchase.

He knocks two quid off. No idea why. But I’ll be back.

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