Adventures & Insights

One man's adventures in the physical and intellectual worlds…

No, I Don’t Work Here. But Please, Ask Me Anyway.

While I will never reveal the source of my employment within the pages of this blog, I will tell you all this right now – I do not work at the Brisbane Myer Centre. The events of today, however, make me wonder whether I should rethink that fact.

I’d arranged to have lunch with two friends today in the aforementioned Myer Centre. This central location is a blessing for us all and because we all have different tastes, the variety of the food court is also a boon. Coming from three different offices, we naturally all arrive at different times. Today I was the first to reach our meeting point and as I stood patiently, it happened. Not just once either. Twice – within five minutes. And today’s experiences took the tally to three.

I might understand if I had been wearing something that resembled a uniform. As it was, I was wearing a simple ensemble of black business pants, a tan shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a black tie. I looked like many of the hundreds of other people making their way through the mall. I might have accepted it if I had been standing at or near an information booth, but I wasn’t. I was waiting near the top of an escalator and I was intently minding my own business.

I was doing a spot of people-watching while keeping my eyes peeled for my two friends when I was approached by an absolute stranger. He stopped before me and started speaking.

Man Seeking Information: “Excuse me, can you tell me where I might find an internet cafe around here?”

Luckily, I have some awareness of my fair city and I’m not one to turn down someone in need of assistance. Giving him the location of two nearby internet cafes, I figured I had chalked up my good deed of the day. It seems that one wasn’t enough. Shortly after the man departed, but not soon enough that they would have seen me giving him directions, a couple approached me as I leaned casually against the rail.

Couple Seeking Information: “Excuse me, could you tell me if there’s a Sizzler here in the centre?”

What else could I do? I smiled and advised the couple that unfortunately, there was no longer a Sizzler in the Myer Centre. It had closed down a number of years ago. They inquired as to whether there was a Sizzler nearby and again I had to break their hungry hearts. With the sad news that there was no all-you-can-eat pasta and salad bar to be found, they hung their heads, slumped their shoulders and walked away.

It occurs to me that I may be some kind of “lost person” magnet. Not that I really mind. Standing in the same spot I had been the recipient of a request for aid only a few weeks earlier. A couple of backpackers were looking for one of the bus stops and of all the people hanging around the area, I seemed to be the one that appeared most likely to help. On other occasions too, people have singled me out from the crowd to ask me for directions or information.

What about you? Is there something that happens to you a lot that makes you wonder whether it’s related to your “purpose”?

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12 responses to “No, I Don’t Work Here. But Please, Ask Me Anyway.

  1. Hollywood August 26, 2011 at 4:23 am

    Perhaps you could wear a silly hat or eye patch when you are on your lunch hour. Maybe then people would be warded away?

  2. bearyweather August 26, 2011 at 2:33 am

    People mistake me for an employee and ask me for help all the time. It is not a bother, I am flattered that they see me as someone who can help them … and it is usually a very small request for info and sometimes I learn something in the process. Maybe the vibe we send out is just an aura of “non-threatening”, friendly help?

  3. Man of Steele August 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    So your saying that you shouldn’t bother strangers for directions ?
    “I was waiting near the top of an escalator and I was intently minding my own business.”
    followed immediately by
    “I was doing a spot of people-watching while keeping my eyes peeled for my two friends when..”
    They don’t sound like the same thing. 🙂
    Personally, I think its your “aura”.
    You were standing still looking at everyone whilst next to a high transit point.
    If you had been looking at the shops or moving, people may have thought you were like them ie: Not a Local.
    Also you have a friendly face. Strangers feel they can approach friendly attractive people without fear of getting abused (verbally or physically).
    That is why I shave my head 🙂
    Whilst at work tho, I’ll be in a uniform and chatting to a Coles Employee and we’ll be approached by a lost customer and even though we are in a Coles store and the Team member is right beside me. They will still address me with their query.
    Honestly I relish the opportunity to assist strangers. It costs me next to nothing and certainly they feel relieved to have some assistance.

    • Christian Emmett August 25, 2011 at 4:41 pm

      No mate, I’m not saying that at all. People should be absolutely free to ask whoever they want whatever they want.

      As for the two apparently contradictory statements, allow me to clarify. I was standing in an area to the side of the escalators, about two metres away from foot traffic. I was looking over the rail, down on the crowd with my back to anyone approaching from the top. I like to do my people-watching non-invasively (i.e not staring or making intentional eye contact) so to me it’s minding my own business. Of course; I was also awaiting the arrival of my friends, so I had to keep an eye out. 🙂

      I don’t have any objection whatsoever to helping people, I didn’t mean this post to come across that way. I just found it funny that even though there were a number of other people around; these people chose me.

  4. skippingstones August 25, 2011 at 3:36 am

    Yes, people mistake me for an employee at stores all the time. ALL the time.

    I don’t know if it’s because I’ve worked in retail for so long that maybe I carry myself differently than your standard shopper, or what. Mostly I’m just minding my own business, so I don’t get it.

    Sometimes I wonder if people just give off certain vibes and don’t know it. Maybe you just look like someone who knows…I don’t know what…whatever it is they need to know, I guess.

    Or maybe you just need to pick a different spot to wait in.

  5. harperfaulkner August 25, 2011 at 1:32 am

    A man where I work has a sign posted outside his cubicle that says, “I’m new here and don’t know where anyone sits.” He has worked here 5 years!

  6. Shell Barratt August 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    it must be your friendly face 🙂 Some ppl are more approachable i guess

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