Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner child of the urban zoo or maybe it’s because I’m an impatient fucker but sometimes people that dawdle really get me wound up to the point of rudeness. It takes a lot for me to get wound up so much I actually say something. Classic example is when in a queue in a shop and the person holding up the line (traditionally an old woman or something) is just holding up the line for no practical purpose. Or when after waiting for ages to get served at the bar only for the bar person to answer the telephone and have to spend the next 20 minutes looking for the manageress before getting back to serve me (“Oh I’m sorry, pint of what was it?”)
One of the things I noticed about living in Barnsley (and I’ll probably upset a teaspoon of people with this) was how nobody seems to be in a rush to get anywhere. Ok it’s not like your stereotypical Jamaica where everyone is sat round watching the world go by and generally taking their time. But its not far off it. Sometimes this can be really annoying and detrimental to health.
I used to get half an hour for my lunch. This gave me ample time to nip up to Secret Asda for the cash point or to grab a sandwich and get back to work before I’d taken a huge chunk out of my lunch half hour. One day I made errors. The first being “Should I go into Asda buy myself a sandwich, pay for it on my debit card and then get £10 cash back?”. I’m not fond of paying for things under a fiver on my debit card cos the shop gets charged and they hike their prices up or you have to pay a supplemental charge. So instead I opted for the cash machine.
As I drove into the car park I observed a workman making his way to the cash point so I adjusted my parking destination appropriately and calculated accurately the time it would take me to walk from the car to the cash point (allowing for people coming out of the shop) and coincide with the man finishing with the cash machine. Only I must have miscalculated. I got there and the mucky bugger was still there pressing whatever buttons he could. 5 minutes elapsed and I felt my lunch half hour draining away like the fullers earth of time. He was quite a burly stocky man so I kept my mouth shut incase he lamped me one. But I could feel the words “Are you composing a fucking symphony with all them button presses?” forming on my lips and tongue.
Fortunately he moved away and I noticed on the screen the words “Transaction Cancelled”, either the machine was broke or he was just an airhead. I gave him daggers in the back just to make sure he realised I was not pleased with his time wasting but he must of had hard skin or been totally unaware of other people because he didn’t actually look at me or say “Sorry for being a slow fucker” or owt.
Anyway, I gets me money and scurry into the shop. Grab a sandwich (Wiltshire Ham, Vintage Cheddar and Pickle baguette) and made my way to the check out. I had eaten approximately 8 minutes into my lunch half hour. It was then that I espied the queue. Only one checkout was open (it was a small Asda, kind of like Tesco Local or Jacksons by Sainsbury’s or Spa or Circle K or whatever) and it was manned (or womanned) by the elderly shop assistant. The elderly shop assistant is old. That is why she is elderly. The elderly shop assistant takes about 20 seconds per item to scan them into the barcode reader. Something like this:-
*pick up item*
*look at item*
*look for barcode on item*
*Straighten out item*
*look at item over rim of spectacles*
*hold item up to light*
*squint at item*
*look for barcode scanner*
*look for barcode*
*check item again in light*
*Squint at item again*
*swipe barcode on item past scanner*
*check item on display*
*hold up item to light*
*squint at item a third time*
*place item down*
*pick up other item*
This ritual takes place for everything she puts through. Sometimes she’ll even pick things up she’s already scanned and compare the items raised up to the light and all squinty.
Anyway, she had a queue of 3 people and the three people in front must have been doing their monthly shop cos they had shed loads of stuff. I could feel myself getting more and more wound up. Fortunately the next cashier desk opened up but before I could swap queues 2 people nipped in in front of me. That was fine, I thought, because these people only had a couple of packets of biscuits and some milk between them. But no! How wrong could I be? The first person knew the cashier personally and stood gossiping for 2 minutes while labouring to put a carton of milk into a plastic carrier bag. She then asked for a packet of ciggies. Ciggies need to be got from behind the counter that the elderly shop assistant was on but the other shop assistant stepped down from her chair, walked over and picked up the ciggies. I half let out a sigh of relief when the first customer had gone. All the while I’m watching my original queue dwindle.
By this time I’m twitching, my lunch half hour was draining away to a measly lunch quarter of an hour. The second shop assistant swiped the biscuits and the second customer then asks for a “Lucky Dip”. A Lucky Dip is a method for the government to make a shit load of cash by getting the general public to part voluntarily with their hard earned cash for a string of 6 lottery numbers which, as the lottery numbers are preselected a month in advance, won’t come up as winners, but might just give a false impression of hope. The lottery machine is on the same cash desk as the elderly shop assistant who at that moment is scrutinising a packet of Tampax. So shop assistant number two steps down again. Walks over to elderly shop assistants till, does the lucky dip thing and walks back to her cash desk. The elderly shop assistant then presses her bell.
1st Shop Assistant: Ooh Beryl. What code for these ‘ere? (Holding up a bag of mystery fruit)
2nd Shop Assistant: Oooh I don’t know aren’t they under 14?
1st Shop Assistant: I don’t think so they won’t scan right
2nd Shop Assistant: They never scan right those you know. I’m sure they’re under 14.
1st Shop Assistant: Do you think they’re under 14? I thought they were under 14 but they just won’t scan. Do you have a code for them Beryl.
By this time fiery death rays are leaping from my eyes and cutting down anyone who will look at me with fatal consequences. The man by the apples….dead. The kids pinching chocolate from the gondola end….dead and steaming. The innocent man passing the front of the shop window…..dead. The man in front of me….slightly scarred.
Eventually (probably 20 seconds later though it felt like 20 minutes) Beryl returns to the cashier desk.
2nd Shop Assistant: That’ll be £3.24
2nd customer: Can I have 20 Berkley Mentol too please?
So Beryl gets down again and gets the cigs from the shelf. Meanwhile I am burning a hole into the back of 2nd customers skull and mentally projecting images of me stamping on his fucking fat face leaving the word “Clarks” impressed across his nose.
Eventually I get served. I part with my cash and have my change counted out to me (twice because “Beryl”, I discovered, has a problem counting). I eventually enjoyed my Lunch 10 minutes.
This whole episode then made me think. Are people actually aware of when people around them are in a rush?