I’ve been known to cry myself, to ‘get what I need.’ By that I don’t mean I set out to cry my way to satisfaction in every situation. But I was struck by Victoria Coren Mitchell’s tale in the Guardian of crying over 5o tiny tambourines.
(I don’t believe this has anything to do with books. But there’s something touching about weeping over tambourines. Especially if they are tiny.)
Victoria’s sudden idea of buying 50 tambourines as a statement gift not to be forgotten, is one I sympathise with. I once bought 30 sets of sturdy colouring pencils from ‘Early Learly’ (that’s how we referred to the Early Learning Centre) just so Son could hang on to his without them being borrowed. They were good pencils, which is why I’d got them for him to use at secondary school in the first place, and which is why his fellow class mates always needed to ‘borrow’ them.
Without thinking [much] I decided to give every child in his form their own set.
That was no easy task. We were able to buy a few sets in one shop and another few from some other branch of the ELC, and by the time we’d got all 30 we’d cleaned out South Manchester. But it certainly worked as a statement gift. The form teacher was astounded and the children remembered, long after I’d forgotten.
But at least I didn’t cry over them.
I did when the locum GP refused to admit Daughter to hospital once (and then it turned out it was because he didn’t know the procedure, and he’d rather pretend she wasn’t ill).
And now we have to cry to get anywhere with customer services, everywhere. It shouldn’t have to be like that. Not caring about their customers, as Victoria says, ‘exposes the relentless grind of the emotionless, profit-hungry machine. It’s frightening and alienating. It’s what happened with United Airlines and the injured doctor. If you empathise and apologise, it makes people feel less lost in that machine. It’s a really good thing to do. You should be proud, not reluctant, to say sorry; that’s your act of humanity. It doesn’t reduce your standing, any more than it reduces the standing of a skilled librarian to lead a roomful of toddlers in song.’
This is why I shop much less these days.
And I’m sorry for my bookless post.