Shopping Centre Wars

Knight Armor Battle - Free photo on Pixabay

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.

How Do You Make Friends (and Only Alienate People if They Suck)?

I meet people every day. You can’t work in customer service and not meet people. But they’re not the kind of meetings I’m particularly interested in. Unless I get regular customers, who then turn into friends, customer meetings hold no real appeal for me. It’s just business. But it poses the question; how do you meet people? More importantly, how do you meet people when you’re a perpetually angry, misanthropic introvert who is awkward in social situations and feels acutely uncomfortable meeting new people? There’s a Friday afternoon riddle for you.

As you may have gathered if you read my blog even semi regularly, I pretty much think people are the worst. But the flip side of that, is that my life consists almost entirely of work and home, with no real social interaction to break the monotony. And so, as loath as I am to admit it, I think the time has come to break free from my introvert shell, and make an effort to introduce new people into my life. The problem I face however, is that not only do I have very little time to hang out with theoretical people, I don’t even know how to meet them in the first place.

The shop I work at is smack bang between a supermarket and a big chain store. So the people I see every day are either too busy or too far away to try and strike up (probably incredibly awkward) conversation with. And in addition to that, I work on my own, so I don’t even have any work mates to develop a friendship with. I don’t have the time to fit anything more into my schedule, so signing up for a random class is out of the question. And my circle of friends in the city isn’t so large that I’m being invited to parties every other weekend.

I know there are dating sites, but is there such a thing as a friendship site? You know, like a dating site only without the sexual innuendo and expectation of any kind of romance. I’m sure there is, and I just haven’t really considered the notion before, but if there isn’t, there should be.

Look, ideally I would like to be browsing in a bookshop and have a rad stranger approach, tell me they love the book I’m holding, and end up having a long and interesting conversation that turns into a spur of the moment chai date and a friendship begun on the foundations of books and geekery. But let’s face it, my life isn’t a movie, and in reality I would be too wary of a complete stranger to do anything more than politely smile and turn away. But hey, it’s a very pretty fantasy.

Seriously though, I put this to you, because I am in grave danger of only knowing the same three people for my entire life; how the hell do you meet people? Inquiring minds want to know…or at least, I do. Come on, guys. Help.

Public Transport aka My Personal Hell

When I bought my first car, I swore I would never again take public transport. Not that I ever often did anyway, since walking is almost always a better alternative, but occasionally I did and it was enough to make me never want to do it again. And since then, I haven’t. But then silly little Amy went and moved to the city, and now has to catch more public transport than ever. Fool of a Took.

Last week I drove to work. This week, I figured it would be easier to train it in. Cheaper, more direct, slightly more efficient. Yeah, the fantasy was lovely but the reality of the situation is a lot less pleasant. First of all, there’s the people. City trains in peak travel times are absolutely packed. And I’m not just talking a couple of people standing in the aisles. I mean bodies pressed so tightly together it’s hard to tell where one ends and another begins. This brings with it the equally abhorrent side effect of having to contend with the combined smells of, like, a billion people; body odour and bad breath, weird perfumes and stale clothing. And the weather is still pretty cool, I dread to think how much worse it will be in summer.

Plus, I’m not familiar enough with train etiquette to feel entirely comfortable. Is it rude to hold the rail with both hands? Should I put my bag on the floor instead of over my shoulder to reduce space? Am I supposed to apologise when the lurching movement of the train inevitably knocks me against the three people closest to me? I’ve been doing my hardest to make myself as small as possible, and to not meet anyone’s eye but it sure does take a lot of work.

But it’s not just the people. Trying to navigate an unfamiliar city and new travel routes is complicated and overwhelming. Yesterday, on instruction of a Metro worker, I took a tram that took me in exactly the wrong direction. A twenty minute walk and missed train later, and I finally managed to get on the right train home. By the time I arrived, my day had gone for 12 hours. Today it was even longer. An unfortunate accident on the line that passes through my suburb meant large delays and multiple vehicle changes. From train to bus to train. Amidst the stopovers was the achingly slow wait while it poured rain and my fingers went numb from cold.

You can forgive me for thinking driving to work is the better option. There’s only me in the car, I can listen to music as loudly as I want, I know how long the drive will take and I don’t need to wait in the rain. In fact, the only downside is the money factor. When you have to pay $19 a day for parking, it’s really not that conducive to a decent savings account. 

Unfortunately when one lives half an hour away from where one works, there is no way to avoid the necessary evil that is public transport. I have to hope that it either becomes more tolerable as time goes on, or I somehow manage to invent a flying carpet. In the meantime, I guess I have to make a conscious effort to keep my misanthropy in check. Wish me luck, y’all. 

Misanthropy at the Market

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One of these days, I’ll learn to stay away from events in which large crowds of people can be found. It seems every time I end up at one of these events, I make the mistake of thinking there will be some merit to it. And every time, I am proven wrong and I end up looking for a reason to bail. Tonight was no exception.

The town that I live in is fond of putting together markets and weekend events, and this weekend it was a night market in the middle of town. I vaguely recall hearing about it a few weeks ago, but didn’t give it a second thought until a friend asked me if I wanted to go earlier today. I thought, in my infinite wisdom, that it would be worth a look. As a creative person myself, I like discovering cute boutique stalls and makers of handmade art and craft, and figured this market would be a good opportunity to scout out a few.

It was pandemonium. I could barely look at anything because of the multitudes of people, crammed in and bustling about, and the few stalls I did get to look at featured largely overpriced items that I could make myself at half the cost. Ultimately, it was far from a success and, overwhelmed and anxious in the large crowd, I was there less than an hour before I opted out.

I relaxed once I was away from the people, and instead of getting a lift with my best pal back to my house, left her and her fiance to have dinner and walked the fifteen odd minutes back to my house to calm my frazzled nerves. I would like to say this will serve as a warning against all other future public events. But as the trivia nights, local gigs and other such events that preceded tonight’s market will attest, I never learn from mistakes, and maintain a foolish optimism regarding my level of public event enjoyment. Apparently my memory is so bad that I forget just how much I actually hate people until I’m surrounded by them. Foolish brain.

On Hating People

People are fickle, aren’t they? They change on a whim and you can think you know a person one day, and they can be a complete stranger to you the next. Sometimes I think I’d be better off without them. Actually, most of the time I think that.

I’m not a people person, and there’s few days that I live where I’m not reminded of that fact. Day after day, people continue to prove what I’ve known about them all along; they are selfish, and cruel. They are dishonest, and disingenuous. They are careless, and malicious, and full of vitriol and vice. People are fucking jerks.

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Wednesday is my spirit animal.

I think back on past relationships, and past friendships. At the time, those people meant a lot to me. I’m sure I meant a lot to them too. And now, I can’t think of a single reason to speak to any of them again. I’m sure they think the same of me, and that’s fine. Even the people I once thought I would have in my life forever now mean nothing to me. Because people change. I’m not exempt. I’m a people, and I’ve changed.

And then I think about the people I know now, and I can’t help but wonder how many of them will be strangers to me in two years. Five years. Ten. Am I going to hurt them? Are they going to hurt me? Should I just give up now, and save us all the trouble? Sometimes I want to. But no, I won’t. The people I love, I guess they can stay. But as for everyone else, I’m getting as far away from them as I can.

To be honest, I grew tired of people a long time ago. I hate them. I mean hell, read the title of this blog, it’s literally in the name. So, here is what I’m going to do. I’m going to write my book. And I’m going to make a lot of money. And I am going to move away from this town I’ve lived in for twenty two years, and I’m going to live in seclusion, as a recluse. I am going to be the less bald, more female version of Spider Jerusalem, living as far away from humanity as I can. I will have a typewriter, and a dog, and a shotgun to shoot anyone who dares intrude upon my self imposed solitude.