Monday, 14 September 2015

Huffing and puffing



I was stood in a Post Office queue today, a couple of places in front of that man who you know. I know you know him, because he gets everywhere. He's been in nearly every queue I've stood in, in nearly every place I've ever been over many months and years; I'm sure you can say the same.

The minute he walks in through the door of the Post Office, or the bank, or the Co-op, and sees the queue, he starts. He huffs audibly, and puffs too. In his lengthy repertoire of sounds he also includes a tut, a tsk, a sigh, a tch, a pfft, a chuff and a sniff. He may pepper his puffing with a few half-finished sentences, along the lines of, “Oh now she's...” or “Oh what's he...?” as he obsesses over every action and interaction taking place behind the counter, then he pfffs and he phews and he hhhhs again. All of this is to no-one in particular but you get the feeling he wants to engage you in his show of disapproving impatience, hopes that you'll join in perhaps, or at least express some kind of solidarity – a casual eyes-heavenward glance or an insincere smile would do.

I felt so calm until he arrived – acceptant of the long wait, disengaging my mental gears and letting my brain coast for a while. I read a couple of posters on the wall, although I couldn't tell you now what they were about. I only noticed that the woman pictured in one looked a lot like the lady I see walking her dog every morning, but without the frizzy hair. I registered that all the generic white type on red packaging and advertising was a bit overpowering en masse. Far too much red everywhere. Would it look better if it was blue? Probably not. I looked at my phone and vaguely realised my clock is a couple of minutes slow. Must sort that out. I observed that the woman a few places in front of me had unusually thick ankles. What can you do about thick ankles? Not a lot... only wear trousers? Well, not only – I mean, wear a top too.... That kind of thing. It gets you through for as long as it needs to, an array of pointless thoughts filling the void of waiting, it's just what you do, just what you have to do.

But Mr Huff'n'Puff disturbed my relative peace. Once he started it was impossible to tune out. Huff puff tsk tsk “oh now what's she...” pfft huh sigh puff.....  it's incessant! I wish I could've told him to please keep quiet: it's simply a queue, it won't move any faster just because you're making all that fucking noise, I suppose I should feel sorry for you but I can't any more because you're your own worst enemy and all you're doing is getting to the rest of us now which is worse than just being stuck in the queue in the first place – in fact we were fine before you came in and made us all acutely aware of just how unfine it is. Grrr!  See what I mean...! I was ok until....

Next time you see him – or hear him (you're bound to soon) – do you reckon you might have a quiet word with him.... please?!  Oh and... he has a sister too.

14 comments:

  1. Oh yes, I know the family quite well. Only last week I saw his elderly sister haranguing a poor supervisor at Tesco to open more tills. When he politely shook her off to do just that, she stood in the queue huffing and puffing as loudly as possible, then took great delight in pointing out her supervisor's inadequacies to the young girl who eventually served her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes, I know her too! I suspect she's rarely satisfied even when things run smoothly, some people seem to make it their mission to never find anything quite good enough, don't they?!
      The only thing I would say in her defence (?!) is that at least she articulated the reason for her frustrations to someone on the staff - unfortunate though it was for that person. What really frustrates the hell out of me is when it's just aired to a roomful of people who are in the same position and who can't do anything about it either!

      Delete
  2. Yep, know them well too, and while they are deeply irritating in a queue they are downright dangerous behind the wheel of a car, their hand pumping the horn (oooo-errrr, Missus!) while you try not to mow down a small child or animal that has strayed into the road ahead. I am not the most patient person but actually kind of enjoy the chance to just zone-out in the odd queue every now and then... plus, I like to feel I am keeping fellow designers in work... if you weren't there ruminating on how there is too much red in their poster display, well, they wouldn't need to hire someone to design the posters in the first place... plus, you do sometimes meet some wonderfully eccentric old people in queues. They probably ONLY ever get the chance to speak to other people in queues!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, Yve, what's that all about - the ridiculously impatient driver? At the funeral last month we were in a queue of cars in a very narrow bit of road waiting for a large van in front to turn round, nobody could get past and it was clearly visible to everyone what was happening and that we were all in the same predicament, just having to wait. Another van came up behind us and pumped his horn. Totally and utterly pointless. What a waste of energy!

      Can you get yourself some work redesigning stuff for the Post Office? It'd be very welcome. Mr Huff'n'Puff really WAS seeing red...

      Delete
  3. They do drive you mad, don't they? Can ruin your day, too. Can I make a confession? As much as he/she annoy the hell out of me when I'm just chillin' in the queue on a good day, on a bad day, I've *been* him. Oh, the shame.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dear Mr Bear, you can make that confession of course but I cannot believe you have really ever been a fully-fledged member of the same Huff'n'Puff family! We all have our moments, I'm sure, when we're in a rush and everything's gone wrong and there's only one person serving and they're chatting about the weather.. but to spend a solid half hour sounding like a cross between a kettle on constant boil and a heavy breather phone call is truly something else and I refuse to believe it's you!

      Delete
    2. I'd like to think I've never been that bad. It's just that I can be a little impatient at times and i know it's a fault I need to rectify. After all, working at a check-out/till/or similar is not necessarily a lot of fun.

      Delete
    3. Yep, I've had various jobs behind tills and counters... a customer can make or break your day!
      I think the problem is when someone in a queue is obviously totally obsessed - it's that manic obsession which gets me. I would love to be able to speak to them calmly, even just to help them as well as me, and make all the suggestions I've addressed here (why don't they report it to the manager, learn to keep it in and don't unsettle all their fellow queuers, the queue won't move any faster the more noise they make, etc.) but I'm seriously afraid of being punched. That's how crap it feels!

      Delete
  4. Yep, these numpties are everywhere. I've always assumed it's a form of passive aggressive bullying, - carried out in the hope someone will let them jump the queue. I find it fairly satisfying to deliberately leave a little more space between me and the person in front, to make Huffty-Puffty feel like they're being held up even longer. They're not, of course, but you can tell it gets under their skin. I find starting to read the paper and not noticing the queue's moved on quite useful here.

    The real diamonds are the ones in Sainsbury's who 'accidentally' push their trolley into the back of your legs. Those idiots will never see anyone pack a carrier bag slower, or misplace their Nectar card for longer, than when it gets to my turn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I smiled when reading this, Hugh! You sound just like Mr SDS who adopts very similar tactics to those you describe. I am sorely tempted to as well - but I just can't see it through, I'm afraid I'm more likely to buckle under their pressure. I don't see why I should, after all I'm in the queue having to wait, too and I'm not the one making a fuss... but anything for a peaceful life!



      Delete
  5. Oh, NO!! There goes our budding friendship, C. I'm afraid I have been known to behave like one of that dreaded gang from time to time - guilty as charged. I'm at my worst when it's due to incompetence on the part of the store manager, who only places one cashier on at the busiest time of day. I never get angry at the poor soul who's at the register though. And I'm never spiteful enough to make another grumbler wait longer than they have to when it's my turn.

    I have to disagree with Hugh. When I encounter others who are moaning in frustration in front of or behind me, I just feel sorry for them - it's a sure sign that all is not right with their world. I don't think they're deliberately trying to be bullies, at all.

    Marie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marie, nice to see you again! I refuse to believe that you are as bad as the character/s I describe who really are intolerable in their constant, intrusive, huffing and puffing.

      We all have things on our minds, worries, frustrations, things that aren't right in our world, deadlines, stresses, issues... that's probably a given. But everyone could gain from learning to let go in certain situations and trying to deal with things in a way that doesn't make everyone else around them feel even more frustration (on top of their own) at being forced to listen to theirs. I'd suggest that the right way to deal with an under-staffed bank or an inefficient supermarket is to report it to someone in charge... the huffing and puffing at a queue of people in the same boat is just maddening for all concerned!

      I do feel sorry for them in a way too. I realise it must be awful to have that much frustration building up inside you that you feel it necessary to act that way. But there's a limit to where I can stretch my sympathies... it still comes over as selfish regardless of any underlying cause. Indeed, maybe they aren't deliberately trying to be bullies, but a little more self-awareness might help them realise that that's how it comes across?!

      And I'm sure you're not in that league! :-)

      Delete
  6. I know the one - I generally find for some reason when they are behind me that I engage in a longer friendlier chat with the person on the till for some reason or find another couple of questions to ask like - Can you tell me the cost of 13.65kg parcel to Svelbard recorded delivery please? That kind of thing that might at some point in my life be important to me

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I guess they only have themselves to blame! I've always wanted to know much does a 13.65kg parcel to Svelbard recorded delivery costs....you never know when it might come in handy.

      Delete

Please come in, the door is open

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...