How To Shop

22/11/2011 by Iain Hollingshead
Humour

Learn the art of shopping from these unpublished letters to The Telegraph in I Rest My Case

SIR – Am I alone in being intensely irritated by shop assistants asking if I am ‘alright there’? If one cannot browse in a bookshop, where can one browse?
Stores always seem to have long queues at the counter. Perhaps all the assistants are on the shop floor, inquiring after the health of their customers.
Annette Owen
Oldham, Lancashire

SIR – While purchasing a newspaper from my local Co-op this morning, the otherwise perfectly pleasant male assistant asked if I was ‘having an enjoyable St Valentine’s day’. As a middle-aged, middle-class, Radio 4 listener, you will anticipate the nature of my reply.
Has anyone else encountered such drivel?
Peter Wride
Westrip, Gloucestershire

SIR – I paid a recent visit to our local emporium, Trading 4U, in order to choose my wife a birthday present. At the checkout I explained that I would like the four lavatory brushes and containers to be giftwrapped. Despite the tiresome process of having to explain that they were for my wife’s birthday, I got nowhere. In fact, the checkout lady was not slow in voicing her lack of sympathy for my plight.
I do not know what to do: present them to my wife unwrapped or have a stab at wrapping them myself, despite having had no training in such matters.
To whom can a chap turn in a crisis?
John Harvey
Uckfield, East Sussex

SIR – Surely one of the most unpleasant tasks in modern life is queuing at supermarket checkouts. Eventually, a glassy-eyed assistant recites the practised words of welcome with all the enthusiasm of a very old Basset Hound. Is there not a better way?
I feel that if food shopping were predominantly a male activity and not left to the gentler, more tolerant sex, things would have already changed.
Frank Dike
Salwayash, Dorset

SIR – Standing in the queue at my local Sainsbury’s the other day I was struck by a thought: there is a need for a men-only checkout.
There were several ladies in the queue in front of me. When they came to pay, all went through the same ritual: 1) Extract handbag from shopping bag; 2) Extract purse from handbag; 3) Extract credit card from purse (in one case going back into the purse to find pin number); 4) Tender card; 5) Take card and do numbers 1–3 in reverse order.
As a mere male I already had my cards in my wallet, which was in my jacket pocket.
Who invented the handbag, anyway?
Mike Usherwood
Huntington, North Yorkshire

SIR – I find it slightly irritating, when paying by plastic card at a checkout to have the displayed instructions to ‘enter PIN’ and ‘remove card’ verbally duplicated a fraction of a second earlier by the assistant. Is my wife right in telling me that I’m alone in my irritation?
John Evans
Ormskirk, Lancashire

I Rest My Case by Iain Hollingshead is out now published by Aurum at £9.99.

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