Dear Man in Waterstones
Before I get into the reason why I’m writing you this letter, I’d firstly like to thank you for taking the time to talk to me on Wednesday. I’m grateful that you felt able to approach me, despite the toddler snot on my cardigan and the recently discovered remnants of a Dairylea triangle on my jeans (which, for the record, I’ve now been wearing for 5 days straight).
Your advice was appreciated and I look forward to reading A Little Life (although to be honest at 720 pages, I think I’ve as much chance of finishing it as the Pontipines have of ever getting a decent storyline).
The thing is, Man in Waterstones, pleasant as you were, I didn’t go into your shop for a chat about my tastes in literature, or to hear your recommendations regarding the latest Man Booker nominees. Let me explain.
Three days per week I have a thirty minute lunch break, during which time I’m free to do exactly as I please – well, not exactly as I please, but if I’m not power shopping for rice crackers, belated birthday cards or Petits Filous, then that 30 minutes is mine, and mine alone.
Sometimes during that 30 minutes, I like to walk aimlessly around town, making the most of being able to overtake people on cobbled streets without worrying that my little girl is going to end up with the first ever case of pushchair whiplash. Other times, I like to wander into your shop and browse the shelves and tables of books I’ll never have time to read, look at the quirky gifts I’ll forget to buy for people, and sometimes, quite frankly, I like to stare into space and enjoy the feeling of being alone with nothing pressing to do, just for that short while.
Occasionally (and only if I’ve had more than 6 hours sleep), I like to leaf through books and imagine that I’m the mysterious lady in the manor house with the exciting hidden past that everyone’s waiting to discover, and heck, I may even throw in an imagined dalliance with a troubled yet dashingly handsome man who may or may not (probably may) look a little bit like Ralph Fiennes in the English Patient. In that 30 minutes, it’s just me, and I can be anywhere. For just a few precious moments.
So you see Man in Waterstones, while I know you meant well, I was not in need of assistance, or in fact, of any form of human interaction whatsoever.
I appreciate that many people would welcome your advice and suggestions, but personally I’d be grateful if next time you look around your shop and see an overtired, food and snot splattered woman looking a little bit spaced out and a little bit unfocused, you resist the urge to help her figure out what she’s looking for. Chances are, in that 30 minutes of rare alone time, she’s managed to find it all by herself.