Sunday, 2 June 2013

customer expectations

We spent a long time this morning watering great areas of the plant centre by hand, to try and make sure that only the things that were dry got watered, while those which were already too wet didn't.  It is tricky, among the tangle of vegetation, to spot which pots are light, and we went on finding odd dry ones for the rest of the day, but we did our best.  It was a beautiful sunny day, so the soggy pots should have had a chance to dry out.

Returning from my morning tea break I was happy to see an old customer I hadn't run into for a long while.  She is a very sweet person, who makes no secret of the fact that she has suffered from severe depression in the past, but she was looking very well today, and seemed pleased to see me, screaming and rumpling my hair while crying You lucky, lucky girl, to be able to wear your hair like that.

I think this was a reference to my natural curl, and natural state of grey.  I decided a long time ago that I was not prepared to invest the time or money in having my roots done every three weeks, and have been going peacefully grey for a decade.  Nobody seems to mind.  It is very tactile hair, though more reminiscent of a smart wire haired terrier's coat than the flowing tresses of the Duchess of Cambridge or Cheryl Cole.

Our old customer was on a mission to buy a Robinia for her next door neighbour.  The neighbour blamed our customer's builder for killing her old one.  Our customer was of the opinion that it had probably died of the disease that is killing off Robinia all over the country (another tree disease), but said that a tree didn't cost that much, and was worth it in the interests of good neighbourly relations.

Somebody brought in a tiny shoot for us to identify, no more than the terminal bud and a couple of leaves, picked from a mystery shrub which had seeded itself in her garden.  They were arranged in opposite pairs, faintly bronzed, and I was fairly sure it was a pheasant berry, Leycesteria formosa, which the birds spread around freely.  She admitted that she did have an existing shrub in her garden, and that I was probably right, though she was disappointed.  I think she'd been hoping it was a clematis.  I have never found anything in our garden that looked like a bird sown clematis seedling, although we grow quite a few to provide a source of seeds.  Someone else wanted us to identify a peony from one petal, but that was a step too far.

A woman with gaps to fill before an Open Garden at the end of the month selected a couple of hundred pounds worth of plants, but was reluctant to bring them all to the till, saying that if I charged her for eight pots of alliums she would pick them up on the way out.  I really don't understand what gets into people shopping in the plant centre.  She wouldn't expect to go into Marks and Spencer, show the person on the till one packet of tights, and say that she'd just pick up some more on her way out.  I suggested, as politely as I could, that to save potential embarrassment it would be best if she brought all of her bulbs, and her two large and expensive azaleas, up to the till with the rest of her purchases, just so that my colleagues would be clear that she had paid for them.

Someone else wanted a bowl of water for his dog.  I didn't grudge the water at all, but thought he might have brought his own dish.  We are a plant shop, not a dog cafe.  After hunting around for something that wasn't going to be used for human food, but hadn't been used for chemicals or anything that might disagree with the dog, I found an old tupperware box that we used to keep biscuits in, but is now pretty knackered.  You don't expect Marks and Spencer to provide dog's drinking utensils either.

When I got home I had to water the greenhouse and conservatory and pots outside.  It makes for a long day.

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