Janet (j4) wrote,

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This girl is the shaking hand, the rattling cup

In response to a post by addedentry.

addedentry said: I hate personal service, the idea that anyone should have to care about my retail choices.

See, that's the thing that always made me prefer the out-of-the-way haunts -- the dingy bookshops full of mildewy Penguin books and heaps of sheet-music for popular songs and dances of the 1920s, where the proprietor barely looks up from whatever tatty 50s SF he's reading to grunt a monosyllable of acknowledgement as you hand over a vague amount of money; the cafés where they don't know your name and they don't want to know, but they can tell you're only drinking their gritty coffee at all because your taste buds have been rendered insensible by the drink or the drugs or the sordid faceless encounters in dark alleys. The smoky pubs where they won't balk at the request if you order half a dozen double shots within half an hour before it's even midday, because they don't care if you drink yourself to death so long as you don't die on their doorstep.

I don't want some bland, how-can-I-help-you-madam if-I-don't-keep-smiling-they'll-fire-me short-skirted child offering me a frappulattecino-shake and asking me whether I want it strong or "regular" (yes -- every day at about the time the hangover really kicks in, please) and whether I want it black or white and do I want fucking SUGAR in it, and would I prefer cinnamon or chocolate shaken haphazardly over the counter in the direction of my drink by a minimum-wage high-school dropout who probably can't write their own name without moving their lips. And that's what I get in StarBorderStones. Yes, I appreciate the vast cool aisles in which to wander; yes, I appreciate the choice, the browsability, the buyability, the immediate give-me-what-I-want-and-give-me-it-giftwrapped, but I do not want my coffee-drinking experience to be facilitated by the user-welcoming ANDROID in the vomit-coloured uniform.

I don't want overperfumed harridans with orange makeup sidling up to me in a suit-you-sir invasion of personal space while I'm idly browsing racks of bland, generic, cheap-end-of-high-street-fashion clothes. I don't want them to claim to know what would help me to hide my big upper arms and the scars that they pointedly ignore, or to tell me how flattering the more expensive skirt is on my child-bearing hips, or to tell me that vertical stripes are so slimming, not that you need it of course madam, but it's the new black, the new in, the new out, the new shake-it-all-a-fucking-bout. I'd rather pass a haphazard armful of silk shirts and leather boots, a big grasping handful of other people's outgrown fetishes, to the mongoloid manning the checkout of the Cancer Research shop; that way I know that if nothing else I'm doing my bit to prolong the miserable unfulfilled lives of the smokers in those grim bars and cafés who are slowly reducing my lungs to a heap of molten tar.

Yes, your city needs the blandness, the shining chrome and glass and wipe-clean surfaces, the rows and rows of identical suits, the "natural look" faces with their identikit eyebrows and their sexless collagen lips just-parted and waiting to take your order, sir. But it also needs the grime and the grease, the grit under the nails with the cheap glitter-polish, the infected wounds, the needles and the nightmares, the open sores on the rotting underbelly of the world. And it needs to stop deluding itself that one is any less escapist than the other.
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