Communication Glitches

I reserved my Harry Potter book today. I hate it when people whip out a form and try to fill it in for you. “Name?” I always want to grab it from them and fill it in myself – and sometimes do. It stops them spelling my name and address wrong.

Another communication glitch occurred in a small shop where I bought several things, trying (as I always do) to see the total when it came up on the till. Unfortunately it was a large computer screen, reflecting the light from the window, and I couldn’t see it or even where the total was supposed to be. I hope they don’t replace all the old machines with these. I always have to see the total as I never hear it when the assistant asks.

Uncertainly, I handed over a tenner, hoping that would cover it, but turned out to have underpaid by a few pence, only I didn’t know how much more she wanted. She asked something, and I hesitated – would another pound cover it? Two pounds? 50p? I would have asked, but she was looking away, tapping her fingernails impatiently.

This is an odd thing that I’ve noticed before… I must have the person’s full attention before I’ll speak to them. I didn’t realize I felt that way at first, but it dawned on me gradually. If the person I’m speaking to turns away in the middle of what I’m saying, I stop abruptly. The explanation is that I wouldn’t even know that someone was speaking to me if I wasn’t looking at them, so there’s part of me that automatically assumes everybody else is the same way, even though I know they’re not! Even now that I’ve figured this out, I have a lot of trouble forcing myself to speak to someone who is looking away. To me, eye contact is vital for face-to-face communication.

The shop assistant never did look round, obviously wondering what the delay was. I even found myself reaching out towards her a little as though to touch her shoulder, but that’s considered rude in this society. I gave up and tentatively tried a pound coin on her, and she took it. Problem solved – this time.

It’s not been a bad day, but it’s been an odd one. I had a strange experience with the washing machine only just now. I washed a load of socks and was removing them, turning the drum. I was just thinking there were no more, when there was a soggy ‘splosh’ and a shadow flopped past. I had already turned the drum too far, so I kept turning – “I’ll catch it the next time round.” I kept turning and turning, and there was nothing there! I must have gone round another 4 or 5 times, seeing absolutely nothing, when suddenly the sock leapt out with a “whooo!”

The thing obviously has a sense of humour.

Edit March 2008: Comments for this entry when it was on the old site:

1. Pete wrote at Mar 2, 2007 at 08:23:
what you should have said is…
I am deaf is it possible that you could give me some customer service. oh and in a loud voice. Or just complained to a manager.

I am away the Potter comes out. My hotel (pub!) is close to a Tesco (2 miles so it’ll be up and get it)

2. Diddums wrote at Mar 2, 2007 at 11:03:
The ticket said ‘half price if you reserve’, though I seem to remember last time I reserved a Harry Potter, I thought I would be getting more of a discount than those who didn’t reserve – and actually they got it for not very much more. Hmf.

3. drifting wrote at Mar 2, 2007 at 21:10:
Good customer service seems a rarity these days. I try to avoid places that I’ve had bad customer service, but that leaves you few places to shop! My workplace is very big on customer service and yet, ironically, doesn’t count workmates as customers so we smile to the ‘real’ customers while being treated like shit by the management. Perhaps that’s the problem. A general lack of respect for anyone. What is this world coming to?

4. Diddums wrote at Mar 2, 2007 at 21:43:
People are not valued much – maybe because there are too many (pet hobby horse of mine). If there were only a few people around to help, we would value ourselves and each other more.

5. Pacian wrote at Mar 3, 2007 at 12:40:
I sometimes have to remind my mum that I don’t need to lipread too. o_O

Harry Potter. I like the movies. On TV. For free. Not sure I’d pay for any of it. 😛

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