Compare & Contrast
Updated: Oct 4
Sometimes, pleasing things happen - other times not. It's the way you look at it and figure out how much control over the situation you have.
Such a thing happened to me. And it has been the dreaded virus that has brought it to light.
I'll give you the two scenarios:
Morrisons vs Waitrose Supermarkets
I have shopped occasionally at Morrisons and have found their staff to be cordial and lighthearted, although just a tad unhappy. During the height of the pandemic, I visited their store to stock up on essentials - water in particular.
Upon entering, I was greeted by a sea of confusion:
warning tape in bright yellow and black
pathways separated by black nylon belts
'feet' stickers on the floor to show you where to stand
directions telling you where to walk - and staff on hand to direct you should you accidentally wander off of the beaten track
Thankfully, I had done most of my shopping but had yet to get the water. That particular aisle was in the corner and I was at the end of the aisle nearest to it. Separated by a simple plastic stand and a bit of black tape that looked much like a belt, I was sorely tempted to get my 50+ year old out of shape body to jump the barrier.
About 10 shoppers were scanning the shelves in the store and 20 staff watched them. No one was near the water.
"Should I make a run for it?"
I decided to act with common sense.
Gently, I pushed the barrier aside and slowly pushed my trolly through.
Almost immediately, two members of staff pounced on me.
"You can't go through that way!"
"But I only want a pack of water bottles, can't I just get them?" I pleaded, "They're just there."
For emphasis, I pointed at them, not 20 feet away.
Her response wasn't a 'no' as much as an odd kind of glare. As though she hated having to do this kind of thing. She replaced the barrier and attempted an apology.
"It's cos of this Corona thing." She said with a thin smile.
"I know," I agreed with a sigh, she appeared to be in alignment with my thoughts, "But don't you think it's getting more and more like a Nazi state?"
Perhaps I read her wrong? Perhaps I used the wrong tone? Either way, immediately she took offence to that, pushed through the barrier and marched me back down the aisle and up again until we reached the water where I grabbed a six pack.
She continued to march me towards the till - where she had obviously already given prior information to the staff I was one of these trouble makers.
As I unpacked my trolley, I smiled and attempted to engage in convivial conversation. The most jovial of natures was conjured up - just so I could get through the experience. But, trying to engage with the staff member on the till who was having none of it, proved a tiresome exercise.
Upon receving credit card and paying for my items, my friendly (not) escort, escorted me out through the exit door. where two Security Guards almost stood to attention. I smiled my best smile at them and, for good measure (to demonstrate I wasn't a nasty person), I asked where the cashpoint machine was, then asked them how to navigate the taped off areas.
Not a pleasant experience.
Morrisons will never have the pleasure of my shopping experience again.
Waitrose, on the other hand, were filled with polite staff who waved me through. They trusted I would make my own clever decisions on social distancing. They smiled at me, encouraged me to be at ease and even asked me to enjoy my customer experience.
I will buy from them again.
Camping & Motorhome Club vs Camping & Caravan Club
After many attempts to secure a spot on a camping site in Malvern the Camping & Motorhome Club (CAMC) answered my prayer - and booked me in.
I arrived at the site, it looked a little too packed for me. Considering.
The office had two doors - one you entered, one you exited. Having not 'shopped' on a campsite for what seemed like a very long time, I wasn't used to this. So, I followed instructions, delivered quite pleasantly as it happens.
As soon as I entered, a woman came out from the shadows and stated in a firm tone "You're supposed to be wearing a mask!"
Oh, ok. I returned to my van and retrieved my exemption card.
She gave a thin smile but accepted my hidden disabilities.
As I went through the booking in procedure, whe continued to stare at me. It was as though I was some kind of leech, undeserving of being on the planet, let alone paying £18.46 for the pleasure of parking my van and using about a £0.05ps worth of electricity.
After being handed a sheet of paper with directions to my parking place - together with instructions on how to handle the virus, I returned to my camper. Slowly, I drove round the tiny roads in my big van. The park was packed to the brim.
So many people.
So many vans.
It was a confusion of roads that lead to nowhere while my nerves went everywhere.
Eventually, I found the spot I wanted and turned the engine off.
People stared at me as though I was some kind of alien in their midst. I guess I was with my big blue camper was an alien, compared to their pristine white caravans.
I stared at the people sat in their chairs having afternoon tea.
I felt uncomfortable. I felt uneasy. I felt unsafe.
Nevertheless, I had paid for my parking.
Upon my return to the office to retrieve my key the same lady stared at me again. It was an odd kind of stare. One where someone had found a little bit of power and was never going to let go of it.
I trembled as I asked for a couple of icecreams from the freezer. She was having trouble with the credit card system as it wouldn't work for £2. So, I returned them to their icy grave and trundled off back the safe confines of my campervan.
Sitting in the back on my cozy sofabed, I sighed and looked around me. My phone burst into life, it was The Caravan and Camping Club (CACC) returning my call.
"We've just had a cancellation!" the friendly voice answered.
Music to my ears.
"Please, I'd like to have that spot."
I asked how much it would be and the price was less than the CAMC, but... I'd just paid £18 for the CACC and wondered what to do. She had empathy in her voice, a kind of knowing, an understanding. So she said she would search the system and see if she could get me a discount.
Immediately she said "Yes, I can get you in for a tenner!" I jumped into my driver's seat, released the brake, pushed down on my accelerator and drove away.
From prison to paradise! I felt like a bird being released from a cage.
As I entered the CACC, the staff waved me through, cycled in front of me to an allocated spot and smiled cheerily.
At last, I felt at ease. I felt comfortable. I was ok.
The Moral of the Lesson
Always remember, you cannot control another's way of being. You can only control your own.
My message to you is focused on action.
Your action and manner of dealing with challenges, other people and situations, matters.
Even if you feel frightened, nervous, scared and you have that odd trembling take a hold of you when you're standing in the face of uncertainty - you must have the courage to stand firm in your beliefs.
Think back to those brave soldiers during World Wars 1 and 2. They bravely faced bullets. Some pissed their pants in fear - but they still went over that parapet and walked into a hail of bullets.
Your courage may only be from being denied entry in shops or have been pressured by your doctor or employer to endure unlawful protocols.
Keep your wits about you and your hope up.
Remember, you can only control what you do - you cannot control others reactions and ways of being.
Don't lose hope.
There are plenty of people who may not say anything, but agree wholeheartedly with you. It's crucial to keep thinking good things, and not to focus on the bad that is happening around us.
All the best,
Please note, if you buy anything from the links provided, I will earn a smidgen of a commission - and I mean a smidgen (like 0.0001p for any product that takes your fancy enough for you to press the buy button). But at least it's something. And, please know that none of those funds are paid by you, the buyer.
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Kaye is a freelance publisher, author and certified psychotherapist with over three decades of experience. She is also a writer for various blogs about writing, publishing, travelling and health care.
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