A friend recently told me about her experience at a supermarket checkout.
She only had a few items to purchase and had also separated a handful of other items to pay and receive a separate receipt for her neighbour. When the assistant asked whether she required any assistanace to pack her items she replied "no thank you" and packed them herself. She paid for the items and was then ready to pack the items she was purchasing for her neighbour. The assistant asked her again if she wanted any help to pack the items. When she asked why the assistant had aksed that a second time after having help refused for an even greater number of items she was told "we are trained to always ask that before starting to scan the goods" - Great service but crazy or what?
Today I experienced a different angle on the "do you want any help" situation.
I was doing the weekly DeeJay household shop (how domesticated is that?).
I approached the checkout with a trolley full of goods and as I placed them on the conveyor, the assistant sat there alternating between analysing the state of her nails and crossing her arms in a pose of utter boredom. When I had finished loading the contents of my trolley on to the conveyor and moved towards the other end of the checkout she looked sweetly at me and asked "do you want any help with packing?" How did I stop myself from telling her that if I did, perhaps it would have been better if she had asked me at the beginning of my conveyor loading!
Being a regular shopper at that time of the morning, I know that one of the other regular checkout assistants (unfortunately busy with another customer today) always, without even asking , starts to scan and bag the items as I load the trolley contents on to the conveyor and usually keeps pace with me so that I only need to pack the last few items before paying. Perhaps I should introduce her to the other assistant?