The Youngest of the Darling Daughters tells me I should have ordered on-line. It's called Being Wise After the Event.
It just so happened that I had half an hour to spare
before a meeting at 10 a.m. and Marks & Spencer kind of beckoned me in. The store was in its early morning mode, with shop assistants wandering around re-arranging clothes on racks and just an odd customer or two, even in the normally crowded food hall.
It shouldn't take me Two Ticks, I told myself as I strode towards the Order Desk, to sort out a beautiful bouquet of flowers for a Birthday Girl.
Which only goes to show how wrong you can be. There was one
person ahead of me at the desk, an elderly fella on one of those mobility scooters. He told me he had been waiting for his order to be processed for a good ten minutes. This did not bode well. Three shop assistants were all crowded around the computer trying
to work out what was amiss but despite this combination of brains, it seemed that no progress was being made. A fourth assistant approached and asked if he could help me which sounded decidedly helpful until I told him that I wanted to order flowers - when
he gestured towards the computer (around which four assistants were now crowded like busy bees round a particularly runny honey pot) and told me his colleague would deal with my request just as soon as she was free.
"I wouldn't hold your breath!" warned my fellow Thwarted Customer, waving a twenty pound note at the assistants in frustration. We waited and waited, engaging in one of those fruitless conversations about what we could be doing were we not standing
in this queue. We were getting on famously, which is more than the shop workers were.
Finally, but finally, one of them twigged why it had not been possible to process the order all this while (no, I decided
not to ask) the elderly chap handed over his twenty pounds, received his completed order form in return, and motored off through the store, muttering dire threats about what he would do if his turkey breast did not turn up in-store as ordered. Here I was at
the front of the desk, my turn to be served. Hurrah!
Because I had by that time been waiting twenty minutes, I was running short of time so I had found the exact bouquet I wished to order in the Autumn Flowers
booklet and had address details at the ready. The shop assistant took down details of what date I wanted the flowers delivered, then broke the news to me that this delivery date was not possible. Could I select another date, she asked? I explained as sweetly
as I was able (which was not so very sweet, to be honest) that the idea of ordering flowers for someone's birthday was that they would be delivered on her birthday. Not the day before or the day after. On the day.
The problem seemed to be, the shop assistant said, that I was ordering an item from the Christmas catalogue. I pointed out that the bouquet in question was called "Autumn Bouquet" which one might assume was a bit of a give-away. It was also featured
in the Autumn order booklet. The shop assistant said there was nothing she could do, as it was all down to the computer. Is that not the very worst excuse anyone can give you? Even if - especially if - it happens to be true.
A new assistant appeared and asked what the problem was. He came up with a novel suggestion which was that I should order a different bouquet, one which could be delivered on the Big Day. He was so pleased with himself at this example of lateral thinking,
and I was so, so, short of time by now that we tried it out and it worked. Which is how I came to order a bouquet of flowers which wasn't the one I wanted but can be delivered on time.
It was, I suppose,
success of sorts.