I was in Homebase before that, the Ashbourne branch of a DIY chain. They have a member of staff standing just inside the door whose job it is to smile and say ‘hello.’ That isn’t a real face; the operative word is ‘job.’ He’s doing it because he’s told to do it, and that makes it forced, intrusive, manipulative and disingenuous. He makes you feel waylaid; he invades your personal space. And that’s why I ignore him. It can’t be rude if he’s only doing a job.
I went to the garden tools department to compare a range of equipment, and heard a voice behind me say ‘Are you all right, there?’ (That’s the downmarket version of the old ‘may I help you, sir?’ Or maybe it’s just an expression of the modern mania for streetspeak in all things.) Needless to say, I ignored him too
He said it again and I ignored him again. He said it a third time, so I turned to face him. ‘Are you all right, there?’ he asked a fourth time. ‘Yes I am. If I should get to the point where I’m not all right and need your help, I’ll come and ask for it. OK?’ I suppose I shouldn’t have been sharp with him since he was also doing his job, but I was mightily irritated by then.
I decided to complain to the manager. The manager wasn’t available so they gave me his e-mail address to put my complaint in writing, and that’s what I’ve done. My favourite bit is where I point out that this practice only serves to demonstrate that Homebase is a soulless money-making machine managed by a bunch of idiots who apparently don’t know what a gulf there is between genuine friendliness and harassment. I’ve told them that I dislike being harassed, and if it doesn’t stop I’ll shop elsewhere. Much effect it will have, no doubt.