Friday 18 March 2022


It's not often you're left stunned in the supermarket. 

I mean, there was that one time I queued up at customer service behind a grown woman wearing a dinosaur onesie, who became irate when she thought the member of staff wasn't 'taking her complaint seriously', but apart from that, a grocery shop is usually stun free.

But today I was properly shocked. Gobsmacked. Then livid. And all in the space of 15 minutes at a till.

I joined a queue, chatting absent-mindedly to my daughter, not paying too much attention to the woman in front of me, or her trolley (which would unexpectedly turn out to be a TARDIS that seemed to be actually producing whole new ranges of products). A young girl squeezed past me to join a tribe of tweens and teens in the packing area, and I thought: "Ah, that's good, that woman's got an sh*t-load of shopping but a sh*t-load of helpers, so this might not take too long." (Yes, my inner monologue is casually sweary, don't f***ing judge me).

It took ages. The woman started to ask the cashier how much the shopping had come to, and began to separate out some items. I idly wondered if she was going to put them aside because she didn't have enough money, and then realised with a start that this was probably the most likely explanation for what was happening. For a minute, I thought about stepping forward and offering to pay for the handful of items, you know, out of the goodness of my heart, and maybe to make myself feel good, smug lefty virtual signaller that I am.

Then I got a bit distracted by my daughter, who was shyly waving. "Who are you waving at - oh, is one of the girls waving at you?" I asked, assuming one of the tribe of kids was being friendly. My girl smiled, "Yes." "That's nice," I said, rummaging in my pocket to check that my purse was handy.

By the time I'd clicked back into paying attention, the family were paying up and bustling away, with the woman apologising over her shoulder for taking so long, and me replying: "No problem."

"I'm really sorry about that," the cashier said, looking quite serious. 

"Ah, we all pick the longest queue by mistake sometimes," I replied.

"No, not just that - I was trying to get them through as quickly as possible because they were being really horrible about your daughter, saying nasty stuff," she said.

It felt like a punch. "What?" I thought of how my girl had waved. How she'd smiled shyly. What had these f***ers  been saying? How DARE they? WHY hadn't the mum stopped them? How was this remotely acceptable or understandable? But what was it they said? What nastiness had they spewed out? I was desperate to know, and yet, desperate not to. Thank God my daughter couldn't read the situation correctly and hadn't twigged that what had happened was not friendliness but prejudice. Thank God I hadn't twigged.

A hammering heartbeat or two. "I wouldn't have said 'no problem' if I'd have known," I said, slowly.

The cashier gave me a sympathetic look.

A thought or three. Then my conclusion: "I'm glad I didn't hear, or you might have had a bit of an incident on your hands." 

I thanked the staff member for her kindness. Somehow I'd cushioned my shock. Somehow I hadn't sprinted out of the store after them. (I say somehow, but with my dodgy knee, if I'd have set off, I'd have had to stop for a physio session before I got to the self-service tills). We left.

Tonight I took my girl to the joint birthday party of a couple of friends we'd not seen for ages, and my cold, cold anger melted.

This. This bunch. These different, beautiful people. Surrounded by those who love them. 

Holding on to anger does no good. It'll eat you up. I'll just stick to the beautiful.

Video is The Clash - Lost In The Supermarket

1 comment:

  1. Nice to see you back! And those girls aren't worth the worry. Your daughter has true friends and that's what is important.