How to get a reputation you don't want
So, when I went in one morning this week before work and, with a very long queue of people behind me, asked the assistant if they had any bananas in, I didn't think it was stupid.
But they did.
'We don't sell bananas,' the assistant said, with a kind of 'who's this dork who doesn't know a coffee shop from a greengrocer's?' look on her face. Someone in the queue behind me tittered. I should have just walked out there and then. But I swear ...
'Oh, I thought I'd seen fruit on the counter before,' I said. 'Here,' I said, pointing to an empty space. 'It was right here.'
Give her her due, she looked at the empty space with me. I was grateful to her for that. She'd obviously had some training in a care home before joining the cafe ... 'Just humour them; if they think they're at the battle of Waterloo wearing blue slippers, they are. Don't argue.'
'So I thought you might be able to sell me a banana, you see.'
'We don't sell bananas,' she said. That's the training again, see. 'Just repeat, repeat, and stick to your guns when you're trying to get them to do something. Eventually, they'll give back the teeth they took from someone else's sterilising fluid.'
'What, never? Not just not today?'
'Would you like a coffee?' she said, meaning, 'Because if you don't, all these other people behind you DO'.
'No thanks. I only wanted a banana,' I said, and I left.
I don't get it. Before I walked into Cafe Nero, I felt like a normal, average person, who wanted a banana. On walking out, I felt like one of those ladies who wanders around the town with lots of tattered shopping bags, talking to stray dogs, and going into shops to make inappropriate demands. The assistant in Cafe Nero probably popped over to the greengrocer's later to say, 'Look, if a strange woman comes in here asking for a cappuccino and three sugars, avoid eye contact, whatever you do.'
And I swear ...