Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Mrs Toaster and the... Toaster - A Short Story

Mrs Toaster is a very well dressed lady with the air of intelligence. Little did I know, looks can be very deceiving. Although customer service is partly trying to read a person by just their body language and looks... It teaches me to judge a book by its cover.

Mrs toaster walks into the shop on a sunny Monday morning, bright and breezy. She marched straight through the shop and down to the back of the store where she was greeted by myself. A short, young faced girl, smiling invitingly.

"Good Morning! May I help you with anything in-store today?" I said with a happy tone that shouldn't be acceptable on Mondays.
Mrs Toaster seemed slightly taken back by my enthusiasm to help, which leads me to think she hasn't shopped here before — this is what we are always like.
 "Hello, umm, yes I need a new toaster" she said in a very soft voice that I wouldn't have matched to her overall appearance. But replied promptly.
"Certainly, we have all our toasters on display down this left hand side, shall we have a look?"
"Yes" she agreed.

My general impression of Mrs Toaster at this moment was that she was a well put together woman, had a bit of money to spend on herself as she had nice hair, clothing and nails and a generally decent level of intelligence judged from our conversation so far. Of course I was judging a lot on a small amount of information but in customer service you have to try work a customer out — work out how you should talk to them.... But how wrong first impressions can be.

I get full flow in to the typical exchange between the customer and I, asking specific questions to work out what she was actually looking for today. Some customers come in and have no idea what they want,  so you have to probe them with questions that make them think about it.
Others, well, they've seen and specific item somewhere on the TV or website so of course you definitely sell it (the screen said so, so it's true, and you know nothing shop worker)!

 "Were you looking for a particular colour or have a preference to a metal or plastic toaster today or looking for one to match your current kettle?" I asked expecting her to be very efficient and know exactly what she was looking for. I was surprised to get her reply.

 "Well, actually" she paused in thought for so long I think she drifted off the planet "I need a new toaster because mine is dirty."
I'm immediately stumped and my mind goes into asking itself a spiral of questions, sifting through each one trying to  decide which one wasn't a stupid reply.

I decide to go ahead with a question that popped into my mind. (Though I hoped it wouldn't offend her) I'm wondering if this lady is really dippy or just uneducated on good toaster maintenance.

"How old is the toaster?" I asked. I pushed my luck further by enquiring whether she had tried wiping it over with a damp cloth. To my surprise she almost ignored the questions but picked up on the last part and replied in a lazy-like tone
 "Well, I  haven't got as far as cleaning it yet, I just noticed a lot of crumbs in the bottom that I couldn't reach to dust out, and I wanted it clean you know?"

I'm stood here, with a customer who's had her hand inside a toaster trying to reach crumbs... In a toaster that she said she hadn't got round to cleaning yet... How did this lady make it to her mid 50's without being electrocuted? At this point I decide to take the situation in hand and describe the basics of toaster maintenance and electricity to Mrs Toaster.  She seems utterly flummoxed at the fact that toasters had removable crumb trays and that you should remove the plug from electricity if you want to do anything inside of it. Though she takes the information gratefully, she precedes to say one of the stupidest thing I think I've ever heard a customer say EVER.

" Oh really?" (About the toaster tray) " I haven't seen it before! I thought I had to run it under the tap to give it a rinse out"

Silence. Mrs toaster had resumed looking at the styles of all our toasters and I'm just stood there looking a bit thick. Is this woman having me on and I am rising to the bait... no? She is utterly confident in her answer and there is no mockery in her tone. But I just don't know. It's so hard to believe someone with 50 years of life experience could really consider WASHING a toaster a good idea. I'm struggling not to show my frustration and run my hands over my face, slapping my forehead to try and kick my brain into a new gear to deal with the stupidity that stood before me.

"Never, EVER, get water near your toaster. Never leave it plugged in when you wipe it with a DAMP (not wet) cloth and don't ever poke metal things in it to clean it" I am literally sounding like this woman's mother. And it bother me that I'm half her age and I know this. It bothers me that she never learnt it from her parents in the first place. It bothers me that she has been so sheltered that she's never HAD to learn the basic rules of electricity.

From here you might think the whole situation got better. But it got worse.

After pondering the above statement for a while Mrs Toaster arrives back on the planet and manages to let out why her toaster is so dirty... Yesterday Mrs Toaster really fancied cheese on toast. Mrs Toaster didn't know how to work the grill. So Mrs Toaster decided  the best plan of action was to turn her toaster on its side and make her cheese on toast. Which of cause was an awful idea because the cheese would go everywhere and burn and get stuck everywhere and be greasy.

Of course this is exactly what happened and I was greeted with more stupidity.

"I thought washing up liquid would be a good idea to get it nice and clean, it would, wouldn't it? I'd be able to get the grease off, I've already hung it over the sink and scrubbed the inside..."

By this time I. AM. DONE. I have reached stupidity overload by 10AM on a Monday morning and am seriously considering if its safe to let this lady purchase another toaster. Safe to say I persuaded her to throw the other one out and then follow the new instruction booklet to the very last word.

Whether she is still electrocution free today... we will never know.


I welcome critical feedback.
The last time I studied the english language was about 10 years ago and I was always a bit rusty!


**All characters are fictional and any likeness to persons living or deceased is purely coincidental.**