Sunday, 8 September 2013

Modern Manners & HHD Etiquette

Sometimes I must enter, Noel Leemings – ‘NZ’s leading retailer for appliances and electronics’, to collect the small kitchen items afforded me by the Fly Buys points scheme. To date, I’ve acquired three toasters and one soda stream machine. And continued poor service. 

On Saturday I went to get a replacement gas bottle for my soda stream. I strode up to the counter. And waited. To my left, a stripe shirted staff member with eyes and forefinger glued to his hand held device, was bent over another working on a computer. 

Neither men glanced toward me in way of greeting. I did not stoop to join them and look at my own HHD. Instead, I looked around for someone to serve me. 

No one was nearby, so I returned my gaze to the pair. And waited. What felt like several minutes later, the stripe shirted one sashayed over, eyes still glued to his HHD, forefinger scrolling. He picked up my empty cylinder. 

‘Just checking your emails?’ I asked. 

He looked at me for the first time and smiled. ‘Yes,’ he said. Not in an embarrassed way, but in a way that assumed I endorsed his rudeness. 

Casually he slipped his phone into his black pants pocket. Then sloped off out the back. On his return I checked his name badge. I’ll call him John. John, I read to my horror was also, ‘The Boss’. 

Really? He looked a bit young. Twenty something? His oddly trimmed facial hair gave him a gnome-like appearance. The boss of what? Using company WIFI for checking facebook statuses during working hours? He wore a blackish silver neck chain and a ring in the shape of a bony hand.  I doubted he was checking online sales figures per store in the hope of increasing his.

‘If you collect three tags you get a free flavouring,’ he said, keying in my purchase. ‘$12.50. Do you want a bag?’

‘No thanks,’ I said. We don’t use the flavourings. They taste yuk. And the kids use them up within 24 hours. I just fizz our bore-drawn pure mountain water and add a wedge of lemon. Cheapest eco sparkling around.

As I walked back to the car I wished  I‘d invested in a second gas bottle. Anything to delay my return. I also felt a bit sad about the world, its HHD addiction and the fact that minding your P’s and Q’s seems to be a dying art. Because if John was actually the boss, what chance did his staff have?

Manners obviously do not maketh the Noel Leeming man.

Previously I’d dropped, daughter 15, at her first tax paying job. In a shoe shop. She believes she impressed her employers during her interview, with social skills formed around the family dinner table. She applauds her father and I for enforcing GOOD MANNERS. Refusing to produce meals and snacks without correctly placed, ‘pleases’ and ‘thank yous’. 

In fact, she has been repeatedly thanking me for ‘her good manners’ lately. While bemoaning the shortcomings of her peers. Her thanks feel like payback. I like it.

On Monday I filled my car with 96 unleaded, and four teenagers, then set off for Dunedin as parent help on a 48 hour school trip. On departure the mother of one of my charges handed me, a packet of almond fingers and an envelope of petrol and ice cream money. 

‘You’ll deserve it,’ she said, ‘I owe you.’

‘Ohh, THANK YOU,’ I said.

(Petrol money is offered to the driver/parent help, on most school trips). In this case I was getting a theatre ticket, marae pass and sushi dinner so no recompense required.

On the return journey we stopped in the small town of Lawrence. I handed over the donated $20 and said, ‘what’s 4 into 20?’ Thankfully they all said 5 and happily ran to the dairy.

The lady serving was grumpy. Even more so when I asked if they had any more orange chocolate chip. She changed the ice cream carton over. 

‘How many litres do they hold?’ I asked.

’16,’ she replied. 'Single or double?'

The kids bought thick shakes, cans of coke, strawberry chews and some smelly food free crunchy things. They all thanked me profusely and littered the car with wrappers. Happiness filled. 

‘Don’t thank me. Thank Sam’s mum,’ I said. ‘This is her shout.’

Two hours later we arrived back at our starting point. I was thanked by my charges and their parents; relieved I’m sure to have their safe return. Except for one kid who ran off to find his parent. I saw them on the other side of the car park. All of five metres away. I waved goodbye. They departed. An oversight perhaps? I was jolly keen to get home too.

A couple of days later I received a hand written postcard from the teachers. I was touched. As I read about how creative and enthusiastic I was. How trips like this would not be possible without parents like ME. My memory of cleaning six hairy toothpaste splattered basins, scrubbing bogs, mopping floors, sleeping mattress to mattress in a room with 67 bodies, plus 8 hours driving while participating in a full volume YA survey, faded happily into the background.

If manners don’t come from the boss, maybe you get them at school.

(photo: street signage, Lawrence. Colin says what?)


  1. Yvette Carol said:
    I love the tone of your posts, Jane. It's nice to know there are some bastions of manners and intelligence left in the world.

  2. Thanks Yvette. Yes, gotta love good manners. Funnily enough on this trip (which was huge fun despite the house maiding) I had no cell due to provider changeover. Didn't miss it a bit. In fact I felt superior: unlisted. Incognito. Plus anyone who made an arrangement with me had to stick to it!


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