Donald MacInnes: Why I'm feeling disconnected from the phone guru

In The Red

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The Independent Online

Shopping is fairly straightforward: you want a thing; a shop has the thing; you give the shop some money in exchange for the thing. Everybody's happy.

But is it really that simple? I only ask, because of the singularly odd experience I went through last Saturday afternoon. To recreate this event, you will need: 1) a woman who wishes to buy an iPhone; 2) a phone shop named after the very air we breathe; and 3) a medium-sized shopping mall in south-east London which smells of butter and disappointment (any regional shopping centre can be substituted).

So we entered the shop. Well, I say "enter", but it's not like it had a door or anything. The whole frontage is open to the mall, so one minute you're walking towards it, the next you are in it, without actually having entered it. You're just nearer to it than you were before. In fact, you could probably buy something as you walk past without stopping.

Anyway, there we were, in the shop (or not). We stood around for a while, in expectation of any minute being sold a phone. How naïve of us. After a while, a woman with a clipboard walked over and asked if she could help us. My companion began to describe the kind of iPhone she wanted and the woman said: "Can I just stop you there? I'm not a salesperson. I'm the concierge. We don't have anyone free to serve you just now, but if you like to give me your name, you can come back in about 15 minutes and someone will be pleased to help you."

We looked around the shop. Sure enough, there were half a dozen staff seated at their work stations, all dealing with punters. Then I noticed a chap at the back wearing a name badge. He seemed unoccupied. I looked back at our concierge. "What about him?" I said, nodding at the guy in the corner. "Oh, he's a guru," she smiled, with the merest sneer of disdain at my ignorance.

I looked over at the bloke in the tie and then back at the clipboard woman. "A what?"

"He's a guru. He's here to give tech advice." I suddenly realised my mistake and blushed scarlet. What was I thinking? Of course he was guru. How could I have missed that fact, when he was clearly wearing a bejewelled smock, sitting cross-legged on a satin cushion and levitating 14 inches off the ground?

You won't be staggered to discover that we refused the offer of a deferred purchase and stormed out (not easy in a shop with no doors) and found a place which actually sold phones. Then we hit Greggs. No gurus there, thankfully.

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