Do they sell Hair Shirts in M and S ?

Back on Monday (I haven’t had time to write since then) it was Blue Monday. Reportedly, this is the day of the year when people are at their lowest ebb.

They have the credit card bills to pay from Christmas, it’s the middle of a month of the worst weather with precious little sun and pay-day is still a couple of weeks off.

I don’t usually take any notice of that rubbish, but actually Monday DID seem different.

On the front line (reception desk of a GP surgery) my colleagues reported a big rise in the number of people who were pre-irritated before they even picked up the phone to make the call.

They were already spoiling for an argument, already geared up to counter what they have pre-conceived might be a battle.

It’s easy to defuse this kind of attitude very quickly by unfailing politeness and helpfulness. Who can continue to be irritated if the person you’ve rung sounds pleasant, is considerate and moreover is giving you what you want? They usually want access to a doctor or nurse, but sometimes, you just can’t give them what they want…

“My tooth’s agony and I can’t eat anything. Can I see a doctor today please?”

“Er, you need a dentist for that.”

“I can’t go to the dentist. There are no appointments for two weeks and I need to be seen TODAY!”


So Monday everyone did seem more irascible and a rad more unreasonable than usual, which was bad news because some people’s default mode is Blunt Verging on Rude and others are merely totally devoid of Charm. They have no idea that a doctor is addressed as “Doctor” rather than “The Fat One Upstairs” or “The One With The Foreign Accent” and they have no conception of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ or any other manners.

But hey, as I’m typing this I feel like I’m throwing stones in a glasshouse.  I have to confess that although I’m pretty civilised around people (apart from idiots who run red traffic lights)  I too fall short of the mark on occasion.

Last Saturday morning, I was half way through breakfast and a warm and delicious slight of brown buttered toast and marm when the doorbell rang.

Hurrying to answer it, in case it was a postman bearing an Amazon parcel, I found two strangers there – a bloke and a boy who was aged about 14.

“Good morning. Who do you think controls the world?” the boy started off…

I groaned. Outwardly.

“Sorry.  Not interested” I snapped and closed the door to return to breakfast.

It was only later, while out for a ride on my bike that I thought about the two people at the door and considered how bloody rude I’d been.

I remembered how I’d dismissed them in a peremptory fashion with not a shred of consideration and certainly no charm whatsoever.

Is it ok to be polite to everyone *except* Mormons or Jehovahs’ Witnesses or whatever they were?

No. I didn’t think so.  It was right out of order set no example to set to the young boy who was asking the ridiculous question that blew my patience.

Anyone know if they do Hair Shirts in M&S?

Oh well, this blog will have to do for now. I can take it off tomorrow…

About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
This entry was posted in Current Affairs and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Do they sell Hair Shirts in M and S ?

  1. Julia Byers says:

    As I think you found, we don’t buy hair shirts we weave them ourselves.

  2. Darrel Kirby says:

    I think when people come uninvited to your door then you are allowed to be rude to them. This is especially true if they are making your toast go cold. If you had called them to ask for their views on religion you would be expected to be a little politer.

    • janh1 says:

      🙂 Thanks, D. I felt especially bad because he was only a young teenager, probably encouraged to engage with the public by the guy with him who was standing to one side. I just wish I’d got rid of them more kindly.

      • Darrel Kirby says:

        That is a common ruse: turn up to the door with a child – often younger than teenage. I’m not sure if it is part of the wholesome family image they want to portray or whether it is to stop you being so rude. I call it cynical and let the rudeness flow nonetheless…

      • janh1 says:

        A bit of both, I suspect. But yes, it is cynical and I hope the youngsters aren’t dragged around when they’d rather be doing something more interesting with their Saturday mornings! 🙂

  3. Isobel says:

    I wish e had friendly polite receptionists at my GPs. We used to, a wonderful woman who remembered your name from one ear to the next, was smiling and helpful. Now we have sour faced people who bark questions from behind their computer screens.
    Your Sunday morning tale reminds me of two door answering incidents in my life. As you may have gathered, mine is an existence that is not overloaded with excitement.
    The first incident was when I was a teenager. My mother had ordered a new quilt for my bed and I was eagerly expecting its arrival. The door bell rang and I penned it, confidently expecting a large cardboard box. Instead there was a short woman in a beige coat. She introduced herself as Dorothy and gave a copy if the Watch Tower. She visited quite often after that; Mother enjoyed chats about religion.
    The second incident was when I made the mistake of answering the doorbell here via the intercom when I was cooking an omelette. The person on the street wanted me to vote for her preferred candidate and did not understand that omelettes can’t be left while politics are debated. I voted for someone else.
    You can probably get an itchy jumper fom M&S.

    • janh1 says:

      Our reception team is quite wonderful. We’ve had Friends and Family questions available since December and reception gets overwhelmingly positive mentions for friendly, cheery service. No sour faces, even under extreme pressure.
      But you weren’t rude to either of them – even though your omelette was going rubbery! You are a saint 🙂
      Shetland wool, why YES! 🙂

      • Isobel says:

        When you are already feeling unwell, the sour reception our lot give you just makes you feel worse. I wonder if they could travel to yours for some training…

      • janh1 says:

        Any time. Well that’s the point – they are patients and may have a lot wrong with them or a lot going wrong in their lives. Receptionists should always make allowances for that and show kindness, courtesy, patience.

  4. People who call uninvited upon strangers (in person or by telephone) may hope for more but can expect little else from me I’m afraid. I don’t feel like I should wear a hair shirt as a result and I do preface my door shutting/phone hanging up with “Sorry”.

    There are times when I may be a little rude by accident and I deserve to wear a hair shirt (and times when I’m rude by design in response to rudeness – where I realise I have no hope of properly learning to turn the other cheek :-D).

  5. janh1 says:

    I did say ‘sorry’ but in a very curmudgeonly tone. 🙂

    Rudeness in response to rudeness can be quite fun but I am usually so taken aback by overt rudeness that i only think of my devastating and witty repost 15 minutes later.

    Mater told me the story of when she was taking her corgi for a walk in a local field (he was known as Saint Buster for he was a Good Boy) , when a farmer-type shouted in an uncouth manner across the field “Get that bloody dog on a lead!”

    Mater explained “I had a bit of a sore throat so couldn’t shout back, so I stuck two fingers up.”

    Shocking, to think she flicked her first V sign at the grand age of 72! Not very June Whitfield at all! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s