Last week I was on my way to a radio station event in London at the Grand Theatre on Richmond Street. It was a business function and I was appropriately dressed in what one might describe as business attire. In my hand, my large leather bag that holds my daily collection of cut veggies and bottled water as well as the container holding my big salad, my wallet and other essentials.
Somehow I found myself at the meeting site about 15 minutes early and as my heels clicked along the sidewalk I noticed a particularly interesting store window. It was chock full of shiny home decor items and lovely, one-of-a-kind busts and little statues. As the author of the Toronto Sun’s bi-weekly column, House Proud, I feel it is my duty to explore such shops! And let’s face it, I love to browse in them. That’s why I don’t write a column about replacing engine parts or arc welding. But I digress.
So into the store I went. It’s a long, narrow shop and just delightfully decorated. A woman was at the counter and her attention was caught when a little bell on the door sounded. She viewed me with all of the friendliness of a junkyard dog. She looked me up, she looked me down and her gaze fixed on my leather bag. A bag, by the way, that has drawn compliments from several people, known and unknown to me, including men. She hissed, “May I help you?” in a tone normally reserved for flatulent, unwanted houseguests.
“I’m just on my way to a meeting and your window caught my eye! Just thought I’d have a quick look around.”
“Well, that’s nice”, she replied in a voice that contradicted her words. She continued to eye me suspiciously. Did I really look like a shoplifter? And what could I possible get into this bag if I were? I mean, really. A giant mirror? A table, perhaps?
I did a quick lap of the store as the stink eye burned a hole in my back. As I made my way to the exit I paused to look at a collection of decorative balls designed to just sit on plates not meant for eating or in bowls not meant for filling. Behind me I heard a heavy sigh that you hear yourself emitting when you’re behind a particularly thoughtless person who stops dead in their tracks, blocking your way. I turned, and it was a smartly dressed man, obviously working at the store, trying to get past me to do…something. “Oh sorry”, I said, to no response. Um, dude, I’m not the one who made the aisle so tiny so go say your “sigh” to stink eye lady! I’m a friggin’ SHOPPER!
What a lousy experience. When I recounted the story to my colleague, Leigh, she told me that particular store once opened during off hours so that Shania Twain could shop there on her own. Perhaps they were disappointed that I wasn’t Shania? No matter. I’ll never set foot in there again. Only later did it occur to me that I could have told them about my newspaper column and how it runs in Sun Media newspapers across the country, including in London. But I really didn’t want to see a natural stink eye turn into a fake nice person anyway. What a foolish way to run a business.