There’s kind of an etiquette that comes with working in a shopping centre. For example, you always get your coffee from the same place, and make friends with the people who serve you on a daily basis. You say hello to the custodial staff if they pass you, even if they only give you a quick nod in response. And you try to maintain a polite kind of peace with the other shop owners and stall holders, because these are people you will likely have to see on a daily, if not weekly basis. I’m good at sticking to the first two of these rules, but that last one is…something else.
I have a vendetta, you see. Across the way from my kiosk is a coffee shop. And the owners are a surly older couple who seem to dislike me as much as I dislike them. We face off in silent loathing, pitted against each other like mortal enemies on a battlefield. Well, ok so maybe it’s not that dramatic. Certainly there are no swords involved…yet. What I mean is that we don’t really engage, and I make a point of walking right past them every day to get my coffee from a rival coffee shop. Even though they are the closest, I refuse to buy anything from them, and they are two of the few people that I won’t offer a casual hello to if they pass close by my shop.
This silent war kind of began some time last year. My former employer had issues with them for his own various reasons, but up until late last year I had no real issue with them, except that they seemed rather stand offish. But then came the weirdness. The guy who was one half of the Dreaded Duo started coming up to my shop to chat to me. Which is, in and of itself, nothing to write home about. It wasn’t that he was talking to me that was the problem, but rather the type of things he was saying. He was too familiar with me too quickly, which is one of my pet hates, but beyond that he would often stop by and make strange or inappropriate comments, which largely made me feel uncomfortable. But I’ve dealt with creepy older men many times before, and I knew how to handle him. Eventually he must have picked up on my – admittedly not very well hidden – loathing, and he stopped coming to talk to me altogether. Success! The wife though…well, she’s a whole other kettle of really horrible fish.
I had never had much to do with her really, but last year I began training a new person for my store. We are a shop that makes a bit of noise, not constantly, but you can’t do what I do without making a little bit of racket from time to time. Last year, whilst training my new girl on her engraving, the other half of the Dreaded Duo, who I shall now evermore refer to as the Wretched Wife, came over to complain. She insisted that the engraving was simultaneously driving away her customers and making them complain (if they weren’t coming in, I wonder how they could complain?). I politely informed her that I couldn’t stop the training, as it was necessary for her job development. Besides this, my girl had been engraving for barely five minutes at this point. The Wretched Wife left and shortly later I was approached by one of the men from centre management. She had gone to complain to them, and he came by to demand that I cease the engraving, effectively halting the necessary training that was required.
If you know anything about me at all, you’ll know that this just made me even more irritated. I told him, in no uncertain terms, that I wasn’t going to stop doing my job just because some grumpy old woman thought she had a right to make demands of me. And thus began The War. Yesterday though, after months of not speaking and ignoring each other, I was really craving a muffin. I thought, hell, I’ll be the bigger person and bury the hatchet. I went over, was served by one of the staff who was actually really personable. Later, when I happened to run into the Wretched Wife at the bins later in the afternoon, she said a begrudging hello and I replied, and then said “I had one of your muffins earlier, it was really good!” Her response was to completely ignore me, and I remembered in that moment why I had never bothered to try and be nice to her previously. Some people are just born surly, and stay that way I guess. And so, hatchet or no hatchet, The War has resumed. To hell with her, and her muffins.