Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shopping Expedition

I don't know if others find themselves involved in a conversation they never started, nor indeed, to the best of their knowledge, invited. I have come to the conclusion it must have something to do with one's looks. By looks I do not mean beauty nor ugly; countenance might be the appropriate word.

Take this morning for instance.

We went to the city to indulge in a little shopping, more of a mid-week outing to be exact, as the cupboards were hardly bare. It is usual to shop at one of the two large supermarkets ... for a simple reason ... I know, more or less, where groceries such as I need are situated. [I dislike supermarkets who move their stock around in the hope the shopper will buy an item they had never considered before, and have been known to ask an assistant where the required item has been moved to, and while not whining about it, will make it known that I don't buy what I don't need ... isn't that what one can call shoppers' right?]

As the list was short today we opted for the 'other' supermarket; which does have rather tasty smoked fish that we buy periodically. Fish, bread buns, fruit and vegetables, yoghurt and milk, and because a large tin of coffee was on the special, that too was thrown in the trolley. Can I whisper in your ears that we already have four full tins of coffee in the pantry? One of which is a 750g tin, the others all 500g's ... you can surmise that coffee is one of the essentials in our house. Two apple crumble muffins somehow found their way into the trolley as well!

Up to the checkout we wander. Mid-week is relatively quiet in the supermarket; there were no queues of more than three people, but we chose one where only one shopper stood, and she was packing her purchases ready to exit the store.

The lady who was behind the checkout is usually on the 'Under 12 items checkout'. Even there, which is supposed to be the fast lane, she is quite chatty; today she was definitely chatty.

First let me describe her: short, dumpy is a word I should use, but will change that to cuddly which I trust you will realise might be how a man would see her; rings on all fingers [one notices such things at a checkout], extremely thin dark hair that has [in my opinion] seen too many tints and permanent waves and which is close to being like the eagle of America, but she is always cheerful and that surpasses any visual shortfalls. She has worked in this supermarket for forty years ... I was told this fact on at least two other occasions, so it must be a source of pride as it should be ... forty years in the same supermarket! She deserves a gold medal. Today she was in high form. She had not long returned from an eleven day holiday in Bali where many Australians go for a touch of the exotic [and Bali belly], close to home, with the added advantage of cheap air fares.

I asked [one must make conversation in these places otherwise it could be misconstrued as arrogance, or ignorance] how she enjoyed her holiday. The invitation was taken up. We were regaled with the highlights of her holiday, undertaken with three other ladies, of a similar vintage I surmised; two of whom were divorcees, and two, including our shop assistant, were widows. Seeing the glint in her eye, I enquired if she behaved herself. In smiling righteous indignation she laughed, and said they had! Now I must confess to be slightly surprised. However I smiled, inviting her to continue. They had changed hotels [she didn't mention why], drank wine with their meals but after two evenings of being offered such a tiny glass [and at this stage she demonstrated with her hand ... I imagined the old sherry glasses that we had a toast with at Christmas ... when we were only 12 or 13], and declared that they soon stopped buying that ... it was the same price as a proper wine glass. They indulged in a little sightseeing, a little drinking [oh she did mention that several times], and some shopping. She was obviously still coming down to earth from her holiday. I wondered whether it was my face that made her confide in me, or whether she told all her customers about her trip.

I like to think it was my countenance. But ... doesn't it make your day when you are given a glimpse through the window of another's life, especially holiday expeditions. From her remarks I gathered there was another holiday in Bali planned for the future.

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