Well, because of my Post Crossing hobby ( two more cards arrived today - one from Poland and one from Russia; it is all marvellous and cheer-making stuff) I go into the Post Office fairly regularly to stock up on stamps, and thence I was today.
Now, a few months ago the main office in town was installed of some fancy shiny red leatherette banquettes, upon which people can sit whilst waiting to be served. To me, this said, 'You might as well park your backside because the queue will be massive and the counter staff non- existent.' To me, this is NOT GOOD. I want to stay standing and move asap to the front of the queue and then be gone as swift as a swifty thing. When I sit down I want it to be at home with a cup of tea in my hand and a cat on my lap.
When the banquettes first arrived I wondered how much they cost and if another member of counter staff could have been employed instead. Not for people to sit on, I hasten to add, but to cut through the extensive queues. Same with the installation of a couple of 'Serve Yourself' stations, which are okay providing you know what you want, which buttons to press and you don't get stuck behind someone who doesn't.
But the queues remain the same as they were pre-banquette/ serve yourself. The only difference is that you can now seethe about queue lengths and rest your bunions at the same time. Oh, and one of the counter staff has been re-deployed to tell people, nay force them indeed, to sit down, and to tell them how to use the serve yourself machines, although the lady on that duty today seemed just as confused as everyone else and took so long to show another lady how to get the correct stampage for a letter to Australia that I almost snatched the thing from her hands and said, 'Oh for heavens' sake - this is how you do it!'
But I didn't because I was resolutely avoiding the banquettes and standing in the queue, Number 114 on my ticket and with 17 people ahead of me.
Well, at some point a Time and Motion Gnome must have employed his pointy stick because there was a flurry of counter activity and the queue standees and banquette sittees began to move at a goodly brisk pace. It was 'Ticket Number 98 to counter C, ticket number 99 to counter H, ticket number 100 to counter D, ' and it all got a bit frantic, what with us standees crossing paths with the sittees who were becoming standees and cutting across the path of the queue.
And because it is Monday, which I believe is pension day (correct me if I am wrong) there were several senior citizens attempting this cross dancing routine, and some of them were very senior indeed and understandably not the quickest of movers and shakers.
Number 111 was called twice by a counter staff person who, in the common vernacular, had a face like a slapped backside. Or bulldog chewing a brick. Or possibly a wasp. Any how, you get the idea. She did not look like serving the Great British Post Office was a vocational thing. And after calling 111 to her counter twice in quick succession (feeling the sharp end of the stick of the Time and Motion Gnome no doubt) she moved on to Number 112.
The owner of ticket Number 111 was a very, very senior citizen. He was sitting on a banquette. He had a walking stick and a hearing aid. He looked frail, and a little confused. And when his kindly banquette neighbour pointed out his ticket number and gave him a nudge in the direction of the right counter, he negotiated the cross queue of us standees, and arrived at the same time as Ticket 112.
'I called your number TWICE!' barked the counter staff woman. 'You have to come when I call your number or you lose your place in the queue.'
She was unkind. No, she was more than that. She was horrid. Buy a share in her? I think not.
Luckily, Number 112 insisted this elderly gentleman was served first and stood patiently to one side whilst Grumpy Horrid Woman did her job, for which she is presumably paid, with all the grace and cheerfulness of a bag of poo.
Now, I am not saying that we can all be cheerful all the time. Heaven knows, when I worked in Customer Services I could have quite cheerfully told some of my customers where to go sometimes. But I was in Customer Services and the Customer Is Always Right, so you smile and grit your teeth and then, at the end of the day, go out the back for a good swear.
And this chap in the Post Office today wasn't even being awkward or cantankerous. He was coping with his great age. He was coping with what amounted to two sets of queues, and an automated voice calling ticket numbers and counter places at a fast pace. He did not deserve being told off like a teenager.
I'm just saying. That's all.