It is Saturday evening. I am in Marks & Spencer at Victoria station. I am weary. It has been a wearying week. I am buying approximately £7.50 worth of slightly overpriced but reassuringly high-quality groceries. The cashier scans the contents of my basket.
'That'll be £500 please,' he says, delighted with himself.
'Wow,' I say. 'That is so reasonable.'
We have a little bit of a laugh together, and I pay the £7.50 and get on the 185 bus home.
It is Sunday morning. I am at the Bagel Factory concession in Paddington station. I am weary. It has been a wearying week. I am buying approximately £2 worth of barely toasted bagel and honey. The cashier punches some buttons on the till with his rubbery-gloved fingers.
'That'll be £150 please,' he says, delighted with himself.
'Wow,' I say. 'Is that all?'
We have a little bit of a laugh together, and I pay the £2 and get on a train to Oxford, imagining the memo that went out to all service employees of mainline train stations.
'Your customers are busy working professionals. They may be tired, worried, or just really really hungry. Brighten their day. Create a rapport. Try a joke. Share a moment together. People will come back for more.'
But are staff at Paddington stealing jokes from staff at Victoria? Is there a bitter dispute about whether Caffe Nero at Kings Cross or Monsoon at Waterloo have bagged the exclusive rights to use 'My assistant manager's got no nose...' Will the staff at WH Smith at Euston be taking it in turns to wear a false nose and glasses?
This may only be the start of it.
38. QUEEN ELIZABETH OLYMPIC PARK, LONDON
11 months ago