Thursday 20 November 2014

An Open Letter to Toddler Shopkeepers Everywhere

Dear toddlers,

No, I don’t want to play shopkeepers. Not now, not ever. I hate shopkeepers. It is the single worst part of being a mother, way worse than the time you pooed on my leg in a cafe. I don’t want this to come across as angry, so I’ve tried to turn it into constructive criticism. I hope you will be able to take the points below and improve your business.

The shop is rubbish. The stock is arranged haphazardly, with little or no thought going into the product range itself, or the way it is displayed. It is hard to find the things I want, and I am very often rudely informed that the shop doesn’t sell the everyday items I am in search of and that I ‘must buy something else instead’.

The pricing system is bizarre, every single item I have ever purchased, from a single playing card right through to the guitar, cost me no more than ‘two’. And, regardless of how many of my plastic coins I pay with, I always receive change. You might wonder why I would complain about such a stroke of luck, but this change is usually throw at my head, often along with the item I have purchased. Fortunately for me, the shopkeeper seems to have terrible aim, though I was struck by a large plastic skittle on one particularly regrettable visit to the shop.

The level of customer service is appalling. I have been shouted at and humiliated for needing to use the bathroom. I have been told I am not allowed to buy a number of the items on display, ‘just cos’. On one occasion, the shopkeeper told me my bottom was much, much too big to fit into the crappy knickers on sale in store, and proceeded to laugh about it for a very long time. Whilst pointing at said bottom.

I would say on at least half of the occasions I have visited the store, there has been a very large, and very distracting, caterpillar hanging from at least one of the nostrils of the shopkeeper. I can see that there are both tissues and handkerchiefs in the shop so this leads me to assume that the caterpillar of snot is there out of choice, and perhaps even part of the uniform.

As soon as I enter the store, the shopkeeper asks me what I would like to buy today, whilst looking around at the seemingly senseless pile of random price-tag-free items next to the till. Sometimes, I like to be given the opportunity to browse. In most shops, I can happily peruse the stock in my own time, and am given the opportunity to approach the staff myself should I have any queries. Not in this shop, oh no, as soon as the shopkeeper gets a whiff of me I am immediately rushed into finalising my purchase.

On each and every visit, I have tried to make small talk with the shopkeeper. Perhaps, I think each time I enter, perhaps today the shopkeeper and I will really hit it off. And yet each time my friendly chatter falls on deaf ears. In fact, when I enquire as to how the shopkeeper’s day has been, the retort is a raised, almost shouted, repeat enquiry as to what I would like to buy that day. Even if I take the weight of the small talk upon my own shoulders, offering information about my own day, the best I can hope for is a roll of the eyes and the shopkeeper aggressively shouting ‘WHAT YOU WANT TO BUY, TODAY?”

Even once I’ve gone to the effort of selecting a mediocre item from the dismal selection on offer, paid for it with my hard-earned two, and caught the change that has been flung at my head, I get no peace. There is no ‘thank you’, ‘goodbye’ or ‘come back soon’. Far from it, in fact, as soon I have stooped down to gather my new belonging up off the floor (yes, the floor), I am immediately asked what I want to buy now. And the whole soulless charade begins again.

I am not even allowed a break to enjoy whichever piece of crap I just purchased. I am forced to abandon it, and immediately re-enter the shop to begin another joyless transaction to avoid the disappointment of the worst shopkeeper in the world.

The only way I can escape the cycle of misery that is ‘playing shopkeepers’, is with bedtime masquerading as storytime. And even then, I can feel the disappointment deep in the pit of my stomach that tomorrow, I will be required once again to enter the toddler bazar.

Please, can’t shopkeepers be yours and daddy’s special game, that just the two of you play?

Yours sincerely etc etc

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