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The Periodic Table of the Middle Class
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    Entries in Sue G (5)

    Friday
    Mar292013

    Go away, garcon: how to handle the over-friendly/bantering waiter  

    The other evening, a girlfriend and I had dinner, and it was a thoroughly nice evening, marred only by an over-attentive waiter we just could not get rid of. At first it was funny and quite nice, it put us at our ease, etc, but after not very long it was just too much. He came back to our table too often, asked too many times how our meal was and if we wanted anything, and was just generally right in our faces for the early part of the meal.

    Our approach was gradually to calm down our own interactions with him, not laugh and smile as much as we had at first, and keep our body language angled towards each other, looking up and making eye contact with him only minimally, all of which heightened the sense of an intimate conversation happening between girlfriends who did not want to be interrupted. He seemed to get the message eventually, but we had to be quite rude in order to shrug him off. Or was this a kind of middle class rudeness that only we would have noticed? Was there a simpler way to get him to back off?

    Monday
    Jan212013

    How to be MC at the supermarket: being too embarrassed to go and swap a faulty trolley 

    I find that being lumbered with a faulty trolley, with wonky wheels that make it awkward to manoeuvre around the aisles, is a bizarrely frequent occurrence. For some reason, though, every time this happens to me, I just can’t bear to go back to the trolley bay and ask someone if I can swap it. So I end up getting very hot and bothered and pulling all the muscles in my arms trying to wheel the thing around the shop.

    I don’t know whether it’s a fear of being perceived as fussy and demanding, or if I just don’t want the bother, but I seem to push on with this very uncomfortable situation at all costs. I must look so ridiculous on the CCTV, driving my full weight behind the trolley just to steer it from one aisle to the next, and apologising for nearly taking out other people’s children at every turn. Oh well… hopefully it gives the CCTV monitors a bit of a giggle.

    Monday
    Jan142013

    How to be middle class: feeling a little bit ‘on holiday’ in the world food aisle  

    The food shop is the most boring part of my week. But I have to say that there is one supermarket aisle that I actually kind of enjoy and can easily get a bit lost in. It’s the ‘world foods’ one, and I go down there for this amazing Chinese Aloe Vera juice drink which my friend recommended for IBS, and I just love looking at all the packaging with different languages on and wondering what everything is and what the traditions are behind the stuff.

    You wander in from the bread or the fruit or wherever and there you are suddenly in a Caribbean market and then an Asian supermarket and it’s just fun, like going shopping when you’re on holiday and self catering and trying to work out what’s what. Does anyone else get this sort of holiday buzz from the world food aisle? Or is it a bit wrong of me?

    Thursday
    Dec202012

    How to be middle-class: being a total hypocrite about the supermarket conveyor belt separator system  

    At the supermarket checkout, it never fails to amaze me that people don’t understand the rotational system of the conveyor belt separators: the person in front picks it up and places it behind their shopping on the belt. Simple. But week after week, it seems, I have to stretch over someone’s shopping to pick it up myself – and nobody ever apologises! A bit of common sense wouldn’t go amiss.

    However, I have been known to slip up myself… My mind wanders or I’m sorting out the kids who are running around at the crucial moment and I forget to place the separator behind my laid out shopping. And there’s a terrible moment when the person after me in the queue goes and picks up the separator and plonks it down for me. But, funnily enough I find that instead of feeling embarrassed, defensiveness kicks in and I just tut to myself about people being so bloody impatient. One rule for me…!

    Thursday
    Oct042012

    Is there anything more awkward than the Work Birthday?  

    I’m freelance and work from home these days, but office life is a recent enough memory for me that I can confirm the Work Birthday is one of the most hideous experiences a middle-class office worker has to endure. What are the essential ingredients of middle-class Work Birthday hell? Let’s see.

    1. The excruciating morning waiting for your colleagues to spring on you whatever they have planned.
    2. The fact that ‘whatever they have planned’ is utterly formulaic: awkward song moment around your desk, a cake, card that everyone has signed.
    3. The fact that even though it’s utterly formulaic, and will be repeated the next day for Sue in Accounts, you have to act all surprised and say things like ‘you sneaky sods, so that’s what you’ve been up to.’

    So awkward is it that many of us will actually book annual leave for two whole weeks around our birthday just so we can escape the ritual. It can even (and I can vouch personally for this) be part of the reason middle-class people decide to go freelance and get the hell out. 

    Flickr: sun dazed