Dan Majestic writes: Let me tell you what happened with me at a large Boots chemist, in the West End of London recently. On Regent Street, to be exact. I was doing a radio show that day and arrived at Broadcasting House rather early.
I arrived at Boots, around lunch time, to have a photograph scanned and put on a DVD. I started to have a bad feeling the moment I laid my eyes on the shop assistant behind the photo counter. He didn’t look friendly: wrinkled narrow brow, unhealthy bloodshot eyes and bad teeth. And he kept his left hand stuck deep in his trouser pocket, probably playing with himself.
It’s OK, I thought. You shouldn’t judge people by their appearances. For all you know he might be a good man. Besides, I didn’t really need anything special. I just wanted one photograph to be put on a DVD. No big deal, nothing of any complexity. So I asked the man whether he could transfer my photo on to a DVD relatively quickly, as I did not that much time before my show would start.
The man was rude to me the moment I enquired about the possibility of scanning my photo. He looked at me in a way that implied that he was way too busy to attend to my needs. And he continued to keep his left hand deep down in his trouser pocket as he took my photograph from me with his right hand. His bloodshot eyes looked absolutely lifeless, as if he was high on something.
He went to the scanning and printing machine but I could see that he had absolutely no idea of how to operate it. He put the photo into the scanning tray, pushed some buttons, but nothing happened. He then picked up the internal phone, dialled a number and said: ‘Joe, do you know how to put photos on DVDs…?’
It was then that an edgy looking customer came up to the counter and started asking the shop assistant about his mobile phone camera. I pointed out to him that I was being served at that moment and was rather in a hurry.
The man suddenly turned very aggressive. ‘Don’t you talk to me like that,’ he hissed, hatred distorting his face. ‘You f..king prick. You f..k!’
I was taken aback. I looked at his ugly mug and the words of my instructor from the times I’d been a military cadet flashed through my mind: ‘If attacked unexpectedly, hit your enemy in the Adam’s apple. One sharp blow would be enough. Then just walk away, and may be, just may be, the paramedics would be able to save him.’
But then I brushed the thought aside, horrified at the idea that I could even think of killing a man in broad daylight, in Boots, in the centre of London. My friends would have not approved of it, I can tell you that. They do not like violence.
‘Why are you swearing at me?’ I said, calmly, looking the punk straight in his colourless eyes. ‘What’s wrong with you?’
‘And what the f..k are you going to do about it?’ the disgusting man hissed. ‘What’s you’re gonna do about it?’
I smiled, remembering the face of my instructor again who taught me to keep my cool under pressure and never threaten anyone if I was not prepared to carry out my threat.
‘Nothing,’ I said. ‘I’m not going to do anything at all.’
I signalled to the shop assistant, who was still playing with himself and pretending that nothing was happening, to give me back my photograph. He handed it to me and I walked away.
Now, you might say that it was no big deal, that these things happen. But let me tell you something: if you have punks like that guy in the photo section working in Boots and customers like that disgusting foulmouthed dickhead feeling very comfy in that environment, then I’d have nothing to do with them, Boots that is, anymore.
Boots are already bad enough, with their inflated prices and bad level of service. But to be treated like that by staff and offended for nothing by some lowlife, who, as I have already said, felt quite at home there, was way beyond all acceptable behaviour.
That’s why I’ll never again buy anything in Boots. I’ll never actually walk into any Boots from now on. Because who knows what might happen if I encounter some more unprovoked rudeness. I just might be tempted to use my military instructor’s advice. And someone might get seriously hurt.
By the way, if things continue as they are, Boots will pay the price for hiring lowlifes to work for them and cutting corners. Because that is the price you usually pay for being taken over by the money men, who do not really know how to run a business. Asset stripping, yes, running businesses – no.
From now on I’m going to use the services of a pharmacy called Bliss, on Marble Arch, which is open till midnight and has another branch off Cromwell Road. They look after me well and are always polite and give good advice.
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