This is John Lewis! How Spartan Scotswomen metaphorically threw American rule-breakers down the well – Susan Morrison

There was a queue to pay in John Lewis, unusual on a Tuesday afternoon. In the main, it was Marchmont and Morningside’s finest lady shoppers, and they were becoming mildly restive.

The queue at John Lewis looked different that day (Picture: Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)
The queue at John Lewis looked different that day (Picture: Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)

There was sighing, some of it quite heavy. Professional standard tutting. Strangers side-eye glanced each other. A woman behind me rolled her eyes.

The problem was at the desk. An American couple had commandeered the shop assistant behind the till. They were asking questions.

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Now, everyone knows that if you have questions, you ask the brilliant shop floor staff. They are unparalleled fonts of knowledge. But no, they were asking the girl at the till, taking up her time. Two other staff members were valiantly taking up the slack, but horror! One of those was a tricky return.

We were down to a solo till.

We heard the lady American ask, “Can you ship this to Texas?”

An exasperated woman ahead of me hissed: “They’ll ship to the Moon if you ask them. This is John Lewis.”

This is the Morningside equivalent of Gerard Butler in the film 300, booting the Persian ambassador down a well whilst bellowing “This is SPARTA!”

Suddenly, things got worse. The shop assistant on the left became free. The man moved over and began questioning her, too. This was outrageous. An egregious breach of protocol. It’s one shop assistant each, even if you’re a couple. Again. Everyone knows that.

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The queue went wild. The tutting, clicking and huffing deployed hit Black Belt 10th Dan standard. The bloke glanced round and was engulfed by the monstrous blast of irritation emanating from a regiment of well-heeled Scotswomen, radiating levels of disapproval the Women’s Institute usually metes out to disappointing Victoria Sponges.

He scurried back to his wife. The assistant answered their questions. They left, sharpish, perhaps aware of a rule broken.

We all got served by the lovely smiley staff and the world was just right again.

Remember those marathon queues a few weeks back? If we have another one, I suggest we have the ladies of Marchmont and Morningside police it.

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No-one would dare skip that queue.