Living Between the Lines

The iron, the ironing board and the sales assistant

Having struggled to clean our old steam iron (maybe not so ‘old’ as neglected) after its latest run-in with fabric that left the mysterious brown rust mark on its plate, I gave in. We needed a new iron. Not only that, but the ironing board itself had begged to be replaced years ago. It had come close a while back, I ordered one online. When the board arrived it was more suited to a doll’s house. It was quite possibly, the smallest in history.

So, a trip to an actual shop was called for. We headed to that well know store that sells electrical goods of all descriptions.

There was a wide variety of irons to choose from. We weighed them up, one by one. This one too heavy, that one too flimsy, ah, this one – just right … we looked under the counter but although there were boxes of irons ready to pick up, we could not see a box containing this model.

‘Do you need any help?’ enquired the smartly dressed, slightly camp, youthful, sales assistant.
We indicated the iron we had chosen,
“We would like to take this one, do you have them in stock? We can’t see any here …’
Sales assistant regarded us briefly before turning to his ipad to check stock,
We waited.
His pager crackled and he ignored it, it crackled a second time,
‘I’m with a customer,’ he said.
He continued to stare at the iPad.
‘What happened to your last iron?’ his voice was deadpan, yet accusatory. We were taken by surprise. It felt as though we were being judged. It was like a teacher demanding to know what we had done with that pencil he gave us yesterday.
I pulled myself together and avoiding Lisa’s eye, I managed not to utter the first retort that flew to my lips, ‘it was the bigger boys, they broke it,’answering instead,
‘It was very old, cleaning it didn’t help so we decided to buy another,’
Sales assistant did not answer, he continued to scroll through the ipad, while we waited.
‘Got one?’ asked Dave, joining us belatedly so not having witnessed what had gone before.
‘He is checking,’ I indicated the sales assistant…

‘No, it’s out of stock, is there another one you’d like?’

We were under pressure now, as he waited for us to choose.
I plumped for one of the cheaper models that was both light and a decent colour. (no technical reviews consulted).
‘We’ll take this one and do you have any ironing boards here?’
‘No, we used to sell them but we don’t any more,’ he told us, adding, ‘They have ironing boards next door,’
We looked at one another. Next door was B&M. We don’t have pleasant memories of that shop, at least, not of the one in Cornwall. Once in, it is very hard to get out with its lengthy no turn aisles.
Our dislike must have shown itself on our faces because he turned and strode off towards the checkout desk, tossing a petulant parting shot over his shoulder as he went,
“Well, they have ironing boards there,’

For which we translated, ‘suit yourselves but it’s the only place you’ll get an ironing board round here,’
We followed him to the cash desk.

‘We had a bad experience in B&M in Cornwall,’ I offered by way of explanation, ‘once in, it is hard to get out, a bit like Ikea,’
‘Oh, next door is laid out the same as this place. Not at all like Ikea,’ he objected.
‘Do you want a receipt emailed to you?’ his voice remained deadpan.
I produced my bank card, he put in my email address.
‘Can we keep in touch?’ he asked.
(I didn’t laugh, honest!)
He let the till churn out paperwork and then reached for a small card which he clipped to the receipt,
‘They ask you to rate my service, 9/10 is good,’ he told us, ‘my name is Declan, just so you get the right one.’
‘Do you get an award for good service?’ we asked. We were genuinely interested…
‘No but 9 is good, 10 is better, anything below 9 and I’ll probably get told off,’ he explained, still in that disinterested, deadpan voice.
‘Well, I am sure we can give you a good rating,’ we assured him, though truthfully, this would be because he had made us laugh so much, not because he gave us good service.
We thanked him and left.
Outside we looked up at B&M. Ok, we’d try there.
B&M sucked us in along its long, high shelved aisles with no get-out. We managed to overtake a few people and made it round to the aisle where there should be ironing boards. There was one. It was tiny. They had no others. We followed the aisles until we found the way out.

(Declan’s rating just dropped to a 4).

We headed to Sainsburys and Argos, just across the street, where we purchased a full-sized ironing board. We didn’t tell Declan.

(I won’t dwell on the fact that once we got it home, we could not get it to spring upright – an inherent design fault apparently. So, back it will go! Luckily, I still have the old one, albeit tatty and a little broken)

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Patricia

    I need to replace so many items but I refuse and make do. Old heavy iron I just do not use any more! You are brave to go forth and purchase new! Pressing on!

Leave a Reply