I’d like to think I’m becoming less petty with age, but there’s mounting evidence to the contrary. Things really irk me, a lot of things, a lot of small, inconsequential things that shouldn’t occupy my thoughts at all. Take yesterday. I do a big fortnightly shop at the local Harris Farm Market, and I think it’s a great business, so I’m very happy to give them my custom. Except yesterday, I’d just walked in the door, and a staff member started loudly shouting out their specials at the top of his voice as he stood turning artichokes.
“YES, FOLKS, THAT’S RIGHT, JUST INSIDE THE DOOR WE HAVE BLAH BLAH BLAH FOR YOU TODAY, THAT’S AN UNBEATABLE PRICE, BLAH BLAH BLAH…”
I frowned at him. He turned another artichoke and let rip with another deafening burst of frenzied spruiking. And here’s where it’s helpful to note a couple of things.
First, we can all read. Yep, I clocked those bargain basement prices as I wheeled my trolley through the door, and if I didn’t load up on lemons it’s because I didn’t bloody well want any. I didn’t care if they were giving them away, I already had a bag at home.
Second, Harris Farm is laid out just like IKEA, so that it’s impossible to go back the way you came. You are guided past everything they want you to see on your inescapable route to the checkout. Once you’re in, you’re in, and you have to walk around the entire store to get out again. I don’t mind this at Harris Farm because I’m there to shop, not be shouted at. So it’s totally unnecessary to have shouty man there barking out the prices, because the prices are well-displayed and impossible to avoid.
He just kept it up, pausing for breath then launching in again. I started looking around at other customers, desperate to make eye contact that would confirm I was not the only one who wanted to leave my trolley right there in an unauthorised zone – in that little crowded bit between the nuts and the eggs where it’s really one trolley at a time – and march out the In door just to show them who’s boss. Yes, I actually considered leaving. His shouting was really jangling my nerves. Like I said, small things.
It gets better, though. I wasn’t done yet. Finally he stopped, but not until well after I’d started audibly muttering “Shut up, Christ, shut up, would you?” as I furiously scowled and thought long and hard about running at him and ramming my trolley straight into his side. But then he cut out that infernal racket, and I was once more free to wander my fixed route in peace and quiet. Harris Farm calm was restored. But I couldn’t let it go, could I? Nope, I’m too petty and too particular and too prone to certain behaviour to just let some things go. So this morning I visited their website and lodged a customer feedback e-form. I told them how irritating it was, and that I hoped it was an isolated incident. I told them it would drive me from their store if it became a regular feature of trying to shop there. In a word, I spat (the dummy, that is). That’s what we petty people do: we fire off letters of complaint and hassle overweight ombudsmen (well, we would if only we knew what it was they did, exactly).
I’m having a big day of being small. The other thing that happened earlier is that I caught out my cleaners. They come for an hour once a fortnight, and I clear out for the duration, often times taking the opportunity to go for a run. But as I’ve run past at the end of lap one the last few times, I’ve noticed the place looks all locked up and empty well before time. So today, I stopped running, crossed the road, and opened my door. They were gone. It was twenty minutes too soon. I didn’t quite yell “Aha! Gotcha!” but the sentiment was there, all right, coursing through my veins. Oh yes, how briefly triumphant I felt finally having confirmation that my cleaners are actually screwing me! Only a very petty person could thrill to that heady news.
Little things like this genuinely irritate me. I wish they didn’t, I wish I was a better, bigger person, but I’m not, and they do.