I’ve mentioned before the concept of being customered. This involves customers of an establishment asking questions of other people who don’t actually work there. This happens to passengeraction a lot for some reason. A really lot. It even once happened to him while I was standing beside him in uniform. I’d guess it’s the jacket. It makes him look ’employed’. I don’t mean employed by a particular company, I mean employed by all and any companies and most likely in a managerial role. That jacket is speshul. Anway, it’s always made me laugh to see him get customered.
I am very rarely asked questions. I am even less likely to be approached while in uniform. I have no idea why although I am grateful because I have no ability to navigate the tube and most requests for directions are met with a blank look. I remember at a company-wide training session last year Tim O’Toole (the heid bummer as was) was a speaker and expressed his admiration for the way LUL staff were asked for the most obscure directions and would merely pause slightly to boot up their mental map before giving perfect instructions. I stuffed my fist in my mouth and tried not to giggle. Ask me how to get to a station and I’ll likely be surprised to discover that this place is in London, nevermind that they have a station there.
I like to hope that I don’t *look* utterly clueless so I can only think that I emit subsonic lostness vibes. It’s the only reason I can think of for people not ever asking me questions. As an example, I once had a track specialist wander onto my train. He fished out his ID then asked for a ride in the cab, explaining that he wanted a look at the railheads a bit further on. We got to chatting and he ended up staying til the end of the line. As we both exited the train, me in uniform, him in a shirt and tie, a customer appeared looking lost. I waited for them to get nearer expecting that they would want to know how best to get to Gotham City or somesuch and to my surprise they walked right past me and asked the track specialist. He looked surprised and racked his brains to think of the answer. Miraculously I happened to know it and spoke up. The customer continued to look expectantly at the track specialist until he repeated my answer. As the customer departed the track specialist and I looked at one another and laughed. Then turned to get on another train and had the exact same thing happen. Have you ever felt invisible? 😦
It turns out, though, that my cloaking device only kicks in when in the vicinity of the tube. Today I was shambling towards the supermarket when somebody stopped me in the street to ask if there were job opportunities. I looked at him blankly (I’m good at that) then asked if he wanted directions to the job centre. He said no and pointed to the Sainsbury’s petrol station. “Are there jobs here pumping petrol?”*
I have *no* idea why he asked me this. I was wearing scruffy black jeans, a multicoloured tshirt, converse and unruly hair. Is this normal uniform for Sainsbury’s management? I advised him that I had no idea and he’d be better off going there to ask but he didn’t seem convinced. And now that I write this I remember another occasion in a Tesco where I was asked for the sausages. I told the lady to take the District Line to Earl’s Court and change at platform three. She looked at me oddly for a moment before laughing and going to find an actual Tesco’s assistant. I thought it was a reasonably easy mistake to make as the LUL uniform does resemble the Tesco one. Though I do remember being most put out as I was in training to be a traindriver at the time and the standard joke in the class was that if we failed then at least we already had the uniform for Tesco. Talk about yer harbingers!
* He was foreign so not such a strange question re the pumping petrol part.