If you've ever visited my fair hometown, you may have been expecting a bit of cheery Cockney chirpiness (although, to be accurate, the Cockneys are nearly all gone, and only ever lived in a small part of the East End, so to find them in Wembley would mean they'd got lost on the Tube, but whatever). If that is the case, can I offer you my deepest apologies.
I've ventured to the shops a few times in the past weeks and I'm starting to miss the high pitched, completely insincere welcome you get in Japanese shops. Admitedly, the squealing can get a little waring, the way they stalk me around the shop makes me want to scream and the wrapping is ridonkulous (yes, I know it's not a word, just trying it out) but at least they seem to realise that, as I am a customer, my money pays their wages. In London, they act as if I'm doing them a favour by giving them my hard earned cash. Um, you're welcome.
I went to buy a magazine the other day and the woman didn't pause the conversation she was having with her sister as she held her hand out for the money. And that was despite the fact that she had spent about five minutes looking for the price, which was at the top, where IT ALWAYS IS! Don't mind me, love, I'll just stand here, waiting aimlessly for you to try, and fail, to multi task, because, really, it was rude of me to come into your shop when you clearly have other things to do.
In America, they follow you around the shop which makes me feel like I look like a shoplifter. I might be a bit scruffy, but I'm not a thief. And then they ask me how I am, which always makes me worry that I've met them before and just totally forgotten who they are. Awkward.
So, sometimes, I like the English way of letting me pay and go about my business, without having to deal with people I know are only being nice to me so I'll spend money, but if I could get a smile once in a while, that'd be great.