Retail purchases are not intended for public broadcast

Look, we pay up. Why don't they shut up, asks Pat Veltkamp Smith in this week's And Another Thing.

Sales staff, I mean.

I cannot be the only woman who dreads hearing her spent amount shouted as she digs for her credit card.

"That's $200 for the boots and are you taking the bag as well? That's $350 then."

And along with the words we hear the quick intake of breath that signals one's nearest and dearest has heard the lot when he has called to pick you up.

Not good.

Or you are about to leave the beauty place feeling good and the hairdresser says that's so much and then there's this, that and the other you had, and the total is ... and your son, brother or other is there looking stunned, later asking, `Did it really cost that much, Mum?'

Well, of course it did. It always does.

But many of us high-maintenance ma'ams don't like to say so and few of us trouble our loved ones with details of how much such things cost for, heaven knows, they have enough things to think about without adding to the list.

It's best to bundle new stuff indoors quietly and, when it provokes the desired compliment, say, 'This old thing? I have had it an age'.

Those who shout out totals should be shot and that goes for supermarket people who do the same, spying bottles of wine and wildly calling for supervisors to say the buyer is old enough – never mind that we are – and then announce our total loud enough to attract a disapproving stare from the frugal basket behind.

The same thing is to be avoided at pharmacies, where every pill or potion is questioned. Are you on this, or that? Have you varicose veins or a recent pregnancy or maybe a heart defect or a bad leg?

It is funny. We are there to spend money, putting something the way of all these businesses, but we would rather do it quietly, thank you.

What we spend is headache enough for us, without spreading the pain through those we love; those we are bound to take care of.

Think of that, ladies, next time you tot up the bill.

Say it quietly or show us the figure – real big print if need be.

We'll get the message.

We are the only ones who need to, if we are to come back.

» Pat Veltkamp Smith was Southland Times women's editor until 1997 and is a former president of the Southland Justices of the Peace Association.

The Southland Times