Think of a shop to make some comedy out of. A sketch, a joke – whatever. Notwithstanding the fact you've seen the title of this post then chances are you'd have come up with a Pet Shop anyway. Everyone from Monty Python to Chewin' the Fat have had their snigger at my profession. You know what? the reality can be quite funny too.
First of all it is a challenge to know what the customer wants sometimes. Here is a typical exchange.
"Can I have some worming tablets for my dog?"
"Certainly, what size is your dog?"
"He's 2 years old"
"That's actually his age, I need to know his size so that I can give you the right dosage"
"Just a normal size"
"Just a normal size ok but what breed is he?"
"He's no any breed he's just a mongerel"
"Would you say he's maybe a border collie size"
"(laughs at my ignorance and stupidity) naw he's a bit bigger than that"
"Bigger than a border collie? perhaps a labrador size?"
"Naw he's aboot this size (customer gesticulates with hands indicating that his mut could in fact be anywhere between a chihuahua and a fucking crocodile)"
Eventually we settle on pack size 3 which will do a large dog.
Invariably after such an instance the customer's wife will arrive in the shop with a comment something like "Haw you ye selt ma man the wrang tablets yesterday"
We have several categories of customer. There is the "Alltellur" (I'll Tell Her). This customer asks the price of something they are obviously going to buy if the price of the item matches their valuation. Invariably their valuation will be somewhere around half the retail price. Example
"How much is that bird cage?"
The classic get out clause, "I was asking on behalf of some mythical relative/neighbour/friend."
There is the storyteller/economist.
" I don't have any pets myself but when I was young we had a canary. It was yellow and could sing away…………… (10 minutes later) and you could buy seed at that time for tuppence a ton……………….(ten minutes later) so how much are they now? eh? FIFTEEN POUNDS god! you could have bought the Canary ISLANDS for that in my day" " I can remember when you'd get a bucket of herring for a tanner off the fishing boats down the qay" (drones on endlessly despite being ignored by everyone)
When it can be impossible to keep a straight face.
I had an assistant, Richie who worked with me for 10 years before going off to study zoology. One day a wee wummin came in to the shop. The coversation went thus:
WW: Ah've goat a coakateel son an' ah want tae know if it's a boy or a lassie
Richie : Is it grey or white?
WW: It's grey
Richie : Has it got a bright yellow or a pale yellow face?
WW: I'd say it's pale yellow.
Richie: and the cheeks are they bright orange or pale orange?
WW: More pale than bright.
Richie: Can you remember if the tail feathers are striped or plain underneath?
WW: I think they're striped.
Richie : I'm almost certain the bird's a hen.
WW: Naw son it's no a hen it's a cockatiel!
When Richie had regained his composure he explained that a hen was a generic name for any female bird.
The wee wummin reassured made to leave the shop. Her parting shot was "I was only asking because it laid an egg yesterday!"
We nearly pished ourselves!!
Probably the most difficult fish to catch are Chinese sucking loaches or algae eaters. These little blighters can move faster than Lewis Hamilton in a Ferrari. They lodge themselves under a filter or heater and due to their sucker mouth can stick on to any surface they choose. It can take five minutes to extract two of these from a tank. The laughs of the customers as you attempt it doesn't ease the situation at all!
I swear that there is a terrorist organisation secretly plotting against pet store staff. You can be sure that when you have a queue of ten people at the counter, one of the staff has just gone for lunch, another is dealing with a shoplifter and the other one is in the bog, a 40 foot truck has just pulled up at the door with an order and a sales rep has 'just dropped in' and both the mobile and the shop phone are ringing, the first customer says "Two algae eaters mate" – It's uncanny! it ALWAYS happens when we're busy!
WHY DOES NO ONE WANT TO BUY ALGAE EATERS WHEN I'VE GOT PLENTY OF TIME EH?
I'm going for a lie down!
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