Too busy to get annoyed?
I have no problem saying ‘no’ to things. Anything. I don’t want it; I say ‘no’ to it. It works, usually. Usually, but not always...
Say you go to Specsavers for an eye exam. Well, your last glasses came from there and they keep saying on the telly, ‘You should have gone to Specsavers!’, so why should you go anywhere else, really? You get a wonderful, diligent, thorough ophthalmologist (recommended by your partner, actually) and you come out of the room happy and ready to order new lenses. What happens next, do you think?
A very authoritative sales assistant, whom I took to be the manageress of the place, led me to a wall covered with designer spectacle frames costing an arm and a leg. I was stunned for a moment: it had not even occurred to me that I might be expected to buy new frames. Why should I? The ones I have are great. I bought them in Paris, a few years ago: they are modern, very light, inconspicuous, and they suit me (as much as any glasses can). It’s new lenses I wanted. So, for the first time that evening, I asked how much it would cost for me to use my own. The smile on the woman’s face just faded away. You can understand her dismay: this person who, a minute ago, looked like she might buy two lots of frames and lenses (I was given a prescription for reading glasses too and meant to order them later), now seemed unwilling to. She said they would have to charge me for the privilege and mumbled something about a 25 per cent discount on new frames, but I wasn’t interested. I asked again... and again... and again... and again...
Finally noticing my reticence (LOL!), she led me to another wall – the ‘cheap’ one, full of non-designer frames, just costing an arm. She handed me a couple of those (more or less the same as mine), which I tried on briefly while repeating my question, ‘How much would it cost for me to use my own frames, please?’ We stood there in silence for a few long minutes. I was getting more and more stressed by the situation. I didn’t quite know how to get out of it since she refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. Finally, a man who had been standing a few paces from us and who had been witnessing the scene produced a quote – for new frames plus lenses. The amount made me laugh out loud. That’s when she finally got the message.
I came out shaking with anger and frustration. But it wasn’t the end of my ordeal.
Later that evening, I realized I should have asked for ultra-light lenses, like the ones I already had and was used to. So eager had that woman been to sell me new frames she hadn’t told me about all the lens options. I called Specsavers the next day, thinking they couldn’t possibly have made the lenses yet, but I was told it was too late: they had been ordered and nothing could be done. That was the last straw: I lost my cool and shouted down the phone at the woman and also, later, at the manager (who turned out to be the guy with the quote). He explained that in view of my prescription and since the lense would be quite thin he wouldn’t have recommended ultra-light lenses anyway.
It reassured for a little while, but the whole thing was still bothering me: for the next few years, every time I put on my glasses, I would be reminded of the way I’d felt standing there, not being able to get through to that overbearing sales assistant. I couldn’t take it so I returned to the shop the next morning – with my partner for support – and demanded to be given (for an extra £30, of course) the lenses I wanted. I was dressed up and wearing my ‘frightening’ lipstick, but I didn’t expect them to cave in and agree so readily. The manager chucked the wrong lenses (they hadn’t lied about their having been ordered already) in the bin and requested new ultra-light ones.
In the meantime, the woman had become all meek and mild. Could it be she’d got a bollocking for making a customer so mad? I hope so. She never denied not taking me through the different options, but she said she hadn’t mentioned ultra-light lenses because they were more expensive and, since I’d said I didn’t want to buy new frames, she’d thought, you know, I wouldn’t want to spend more money on lenses either. (Yeah, right!) I explained that for me glasses weren’t a fashion accessory that had to be changed each season and about waste and about wanting to spend money only on things that mattered and lenses being what mattered, etc. etc. She and the manager seemed to understand – at last.
The other day, when I went to collect my – nice and light – glasses (‘Yes, they fit very well, thank you. No, they don’t pinch, thanks. I’ve been wearing these frames for the past six years.’), the woman was all over me. She asked me several times if everything was all right. I wish she hadn’t. Ugh! I came out of the shop shaking again. From having to interact with someone I found unbearable; someone who’d given me so much aggro and stress; someone I’d never wanted to talk to again in my life.
With a bit of luck, I won’t have to.