At your convenience

Posted: July 25, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Is there any perceived lower form of life than a shop assistant? More derided than politicians, more abused than traffic wardens, less trusted than backstreet mechanics, these lowly souls shuffle from shelf to till with an air of haunted despondency, in cold realisation that they have traded their dignity for a minimum wage income.
Surely there does not yet exist another profession in which the general public, some who may have never worked a day in their lives, are more likely not simply to offer a suggestion on how to do another person’s job properly, but to demand that they know better. The queues are too long; the shelves aren’t stocked; you never have anything in; the offers should be more clearly printed.
The average person wouldn’t purport to excel at waste management before a burly binman, yet think nothing of claiming they could improve on a shop assistant’s performance with the proverbial blindfold and ball-gag on. Is this because of the perceived lack of retaliatory threat, or is some deeper form of contempt at work?
Then there’s the plaintiff who wants not the crime solved, not the criminal rehabilitated, but a blameless scapegoat to be strung up for pelting, in order to quell their sense of injustice and outrage. It is not an acceptable answer that the buck stops at the manager or heaven forfend: the head office executives. This offer screw-up is down to YOU, lowly shop clerk! On your knees and beg for absolution!
Is it an indictment of our modern age of inferiority perhaps? Where a middle-class mother, unemployed drug addict or professional criminal can feel some sense of unlikely solidarity in looking down their noses at those ‘less ambitious’, or, a more likely generic label; ‘less worthy’? Less worthy of basic levels of respect. Less worthy of reward. Acceptable targets for ridicule, assault and general contempt.
Anybody who thinks they are either above this behaviour or shrugs it off as gross hyperbole is invited to become a shop assistant in any inner city where crime is rife. Then move to more affluent areas, where you trade potential verbal abuse, thievery and violence for the contemptuous sneer and haughty derision of your fellow man. Steer through a month of shifts with your dignity intact and you will be a better man (or woman), yet will still feel the relentless sting that comes with knowing you are the very definition of superfluity.
But then we all dig ourselves into the Hell we occupy.

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