Back when I was at university, I used to earn extra drinking money by working part time at a high street stationery store. (It sold pens, and it didn’t move about much.) I started to really enjoy the role – apart from the odd tourist group of 20 kids paying for a 35p postcard with a £20 note (each!) the customers were generally alright.
One of the extra services we offered (and may still do so, it’s been a while since I was in the shop) was a fax service. As the print shops in town that offered this facility were all closed at the weekend we were the only place available for a casual fax, so we’d usually get 2-3 people pop in on a Saturday to send something off. As part of the policy we had a standard cover sheet to fill out and send with their fax, which involved taking down the customer’s name among other details.
Generally the only issue we had with the fax was either spending 5 minutes to fill out this cover sheet in your neatest handwriting (no mean feat for me) while the shop was busy, or patiently explaining to the hard of thinking that just because they still had the original didn’t mean that the fax hadn’t been sent, until this Saturday. I wasn’t in the best of moods because I’d got soaked on the ride in, and Gillingham were already losing heavily, when one of our regular faxers came in with her husband.
She wasn’t your typical Daily Mail reader/soccer mom/stereotypical retail snob, so that was why this caught me off guard. She said she wanted to send a fax so I took her over the fax desk, sat down, pulled out the cover sheet and begun to fill it in.
Me: “Ok, can I have your name, please?”
Her: “My name? I come in here every week to send faxes, and you always ask me this question. Why can you never remember my name?”
“I deal with hundreds of people every Saturday, and my love for this job stops at 5:30 when I step out that front door. I don’t care enough to remember your name,” is what I dearly wanted to say but thought better of it. Instead I covered my name badge, put my best deadpan look on my face and replied “That’s a fair point. After all, as we see each other every week, you’ll be able to tell me what my name is, wouldn’t you?”
She opened her mouth to speak before her brain caught up and decided better of it. Her husband piped up with a chuckle “haha, he’s got you there love!” which thankfully diffused her, and she saw the funny side.
The weird thing was this event ensured I always remembered her name each week from then onwards, we’d always share a small laugh over it, and when she found out I was moving on to pastures new, brought me in a small bar of Dairy Milk to mark my last day.