Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Shop Girl: The Investigative Journalist

That man selling The Guardian came in again.
The same one who said he was a ‘volontaire’ raising money for ‘the children’.
I could have just said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but the journalism student in me thought I should try to get to the bottom of this.
“I don’t get it,” I began.
“Very good news,” he said, turning the pages of the paper he’d placed in front of me, “Celebrity, sport, fashion...”
“I don’t mean the paper. I know what The Guardian is. I don’t get why you’re selling them.”
“For the children!” he cried. “For the church!”
“But why are you selling a newspaper for the church?”
“For the children!”
He was getting exasperated but I had to pursue this once and for all.
“Yes but why would The Guardian give you free newspapers to sell for the church?”
“I sell them for the children, very cheap price.”
“The same price as the newsagents, I know that but...”
I could see I wasn’t making much headway with my investigation. I wasn’t sure where I was going wrong either.
Then I zoomed in on his name badge, which as before, wasn’t a name badge at all. Actually it was a huge, red piece of card with ‘Back Stage Access’ on it and the Virgin logo in one corner.
Aha, I thought, feeling clever.
“So, what charity is it?”
“I do it for church!”
“Yes,” I nodded at his card, “but what charity.”
He looked down and held it up.
“They sponsor.”
“Virgin sponsor you to sell The Guardian for the children?”
“That doesn’t make any sense. Why would Virgin buy The Guardian for you to sell for the children?”
“I don’t get it.”
“I get money for the children!”
“So you say.”
To be honest, I was starting to get on my own nerves.
Why didn’t I just give him a break and buy it? It was 90p for god’s sake.
And maybe it was for the children.
Perhaps it would make sense if I thought about it long enough.
“I just don’t get it, that’s all,” I said, surrendering a pound.
His face lit up. He tried to give me a ten pence change but I told him to keep it. Perhaps he was a victim of the credit crunch; if so he needed it more than I did.
I still had lots of lights to sell, which was why the shop was still open.
A lot of people are only just noticing we’re going which means conversation is getting repetitive.
“Oh no you’re closing! Why are you closing?”
And we give a long explanation about how we’re only shutting the retail, that we’re still clearing samples from the factory and that we won’t go quickly.
Except today.
Today I kept it short.
“New life,” I said.
The customer was so surprised she didn’t know what to say.
“Oh!” she said.
Then because I felt like I’d been too abrupt I ended up giving her the long version as well.
“I’m only browsing,” she said, when I’d finished.
So I went back to reading my newspaper.

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