There’s a particular pretend customer that comes to every retail business who’s best known as “YouShouldJust”. This is the character who looks over inventory or selection and then chirps “You know, you should just…” This is immediately followed with an insistence that the business carry something impractical, implausible, expensive, or even illegal. In bookstores, YouShouldJust wants the store to carry Kindles, even though those are sold only through Amazon. In restaurants, YouShouldJust nags about how the menu needs pomegranate margaritas or abalone steaks. At the Triffid Ranch, this involves YouShouldJust holding his breath until he turns blue or until I start offering Cephalotus and other extremely rare species. With some businesses, YouShouldJust wanders about, hitting up every venue and insisting that everyone carry the one item or follow the same idea. The smart ones ignore YouShouldJust unless s/he puts down money up front. The rest of us learn, the hard way, that as soon as you inform YouShouldJust that the item is in or the idea is implemented, that’s the last you’ll ever see of the character. It’s not malicious and it’s not fraudulent: it’s a weird power play that’s intensely annoying, especially when eight or nine YouShouldJusts come by in successive order.
(To be fair, a lot of businesses ignore requests from customers because, usually, “I’ve been doing this for 20 billion years, and we tried that once and it didn’t work.” I was once told that the big science fiction magazines tend to stick to digest format because Analog once went to a standard magazine format in the 1960s and fans still complain that this was too extreme a change. In 1965. Considering that at this time, my main activities in life circled around gulping down amniotic fluid and kicking the hell out of the inside of my mother’s uterus, I’m glad that I’m a bit more amenable to change in the last 45-odd years than most science fiction magazine readers.)
A lot of this boiled up after a friend pointed out an article on orchid poaching. Much like the flood in fad pets after a movie or television show makes Dalmatians or turtles or owls popular, any announcement of a new species gets YouShouldJusts racing to exotic plant dealers, asking about getting hold of a specimen of Nepenthes attenboroughii. They don’t really want it: they want to be able to say “Look: I convinced this dealer to carry it, and there it is.” For all of the understandable growling over the collectors who somehow think that clones produced by sterile tissue propagation are inferior to wild-gathered specimens (a growling that extends to this attitude among reptile and amphibian keepers, I might add), I also have to wonder “How much of this poaching trade is fueled by YouShouldJusts making noises about buying rare specimens and then flaking out when they arrive?”
I’m not saying that YouShouldJusts encouraging poaching should be shot. Mandatory spaying and neutering is enough: Weed-Eaters for the boys and Roto-Rooters for the girls, and anybody who complains doesn’t get anaesthesia.
(An interesting corrollary to the YouShouldJust phenomenon involves the Wollemi Pine, Wollemia nobilis. I could go on for days about this fascinating plant, but I’ll leave that for the experts. Let’s just say that the Czarina bought me one in 2006 for my birthday, and it did quite well before an unknown affliction hit it at the beginning of 2008. Trying to get a replacement has been interesting, as another gentleman discovered the hard way, because of YouShouldJust. The initial reports on the Wollemi pine were followed by so many YouShouldJusts demanding specimens at any cost, for bonsai and ancient gardens for example, that a gigantic captive breeding program started to protect the last remaining wild specimens from being poached. As with the endangered orchids mentioned earlier, it’s a pain for those wanting legitimate specimens in the States, as the one authorized breeder shut down all sales two years ago, allegedly because of an inability to fill orders. Meanwhile, the nurseries and garden centers that carried Wollemia during the first big rush wouldn’t order new ones even with money up front, as almost to an individual, they complain that YouShouldJusts made noises and then refused to buy when the plants were available. The search continues.)
Be nice. Be considerate. Be responsible. Don’t be a YouShouldJust.
EDIT: I almost forgot to mention that the worst YouShouldJusts are the ones who tell entertaining friends “You should write a book,” and who nag about it all the way up to where the book has a publication date. Just sayin’.