Are we being served? Well, a lot of the time, not really ...

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Between The Lines, by Diane Lines, March 6, 2015

I do like a rummage around our many charity shops, and earlier I managed to bag a couple of splendid bargains in one of them, which shall be nameless.

Having tried on three things, two of which fitted, I politely placed these on one side of the counter, and also politely said that I didn’t want the other. Well, I was barked at! Really, that is the only way in which I can describe it. I was told in no uncertain terms to put the other one back from whence it came. I meekly did so – oh how I wish I had that ability to just make other people do as I wished, with no ifs and buts. Although I suppose that does come with the proviso that, if you work in a shop, certain customers might never set foot in there again.

For a charity, that is a great shame. It also makes me wonder why anyone would wish to volunteer to do something that they so clearly dislike.

This brings me back to the long face, which didn’t actually make eye-contact with me.

Because none of our bigger shops ever seem to have enough staff, there is always a queue, at whatever time I go. Now, either there are not enough staff for the customers, or there are too many customers for the staff. On the last couple of occasions on which I have been to one of our large stores (think underwear, food-hall; you may need to think pour una minute) I have heard frantic, desperate ringing from the tills, trying to get more tills open.

In the meantime, queues of disgruntled would-be customers mutter and shuffle or, if you are me, you give up and leave all your stuff on an empty conveyor belt because, quite frankly, I am very busy.

Just as annoying are those four words which are guaranteed to send me in to an apoplexic rage – ‘Thank you for waiting’. Quite frankly, when I get to the head of the queue at the main Post Office, after standing behind 18 people, when there are only two counter staff on duty, I smile cheerily through my gritted teeth and jauntily reply, “Well I don’t have a lot of choice”.

I much prefer independent shops, where you are served with a genuine smile. In Norfolk Street in King’s Lynn, on the Fairstead Estate in Lynn and at a shop in Heacham which sells everything but the kitchen sink, I always receive excellent service. I do wonder, though, what will happen when the whole of our lovely West Norfolk is covered in houses; will there be any extra staff on in our larger shops?