My local supermarket is about as local as one could wish for. It’s directly across the street. I can leave the house to get milk in the morning in flip flops, shorts, and without having washed or brushed my teeth should I so desire. (I so desire.) It’s kind of a shitty supermarket. I think you can tell a lot about a supermarket by walking straight to the refrigerated deli section. Do they have hummus? No? Shitty supermarket. Shitty supermarkets also tend to sell those DVDs with three movies packaged together that feature the same C-list actor for just 50 pesos. Anyway, the Sumesa supermarket across the street is shitty, but it’s across the street.
This evening, around 8pm, I went over there. I wanted bread and a six pack of cervezas. It was relatively busy, they had three cashiers working, which is pretty much the maximum I’ve ever seen working at the same time, even though there are six checkout things. (An aside: you never ever see all cash register aisle thingies working these days. I remember when I was a kid, we’d go do the big weekly shop at Asda, and it seemed like every one else was doing it to, so they’d have like 20 or 30 cashiers working, typing in the price of each thing by hand, not just scanning the barcodes.)
I picked the checkout row nearest to me. The other two seemed to have lots of people with a few things, but my row just had a few people with lots of things. Whatever, I’ll take the nearest one, I’m not really in any rush. This is what happened.
The lady in front of me was around 50 and had copper-coloured hair and copper-coloured skin. She was holding one brown bag from the bakery part of the store. The lady in front of her had orange-hair and a trolley full of stuff . She was a pensioner. The lady in front of her, who was about to be served, was the orange-haired lady’s daughter. The copper-haired lady asked the orange-haired lady if she could sneak in front of her, because she only had one thing. She said yes. She saw me there with just two things and turned away. (It’s a tough one, that, though; if she let one person through, she’s not really obliged to let everyone through not matter how much I was eye-guilting her.) Copper-haired woman, though, was a minor Trojan horse. The moment she got in front of the two trolley-ed mother and daughter double act, her husband appeared from nowhere cradling a bunch of stuff in his arms. Five or six items. Well, that’s just taking the piss. Not the amount as such, just that the missus had specifically used the “I have one thing” gambit to get in front.
Anyway. The daughter started unloading her trolley. Another older lady behind me, in her 60s, skin like raw chicken, hair like a flourish of golden sunlight (not really, it was like straw), had some chops wrapped in cellophane on a polystyrene tray. She thought the second trolley was mine because orange-haired lady was in front of it helping her daughter empty the first trolley. She asked if she could go in front of me because she had one thing. I said that I only have these two things myself, so, no you can’t you cheeky fucking cunt. Words to that effect, anyway.
The daughter, had emptied the first trolley. The mother was removing items from the second trolley. And they started having the cliché old lady discussion, “No, I’m paying for that,” “No! I’m paying for it.” Eventually they got that sorted out. The daughter would pay for virtually everything apart from some cakes and a plastic dog bowl. The chicken-faced lady behind was chuntering away impatiently the whole time. At one point, she jinked past me, to help the orange-haired lady get yoghurts outs of the trolley. The orange-haired lady looked a little surprised at that. I reached for a Kit Kat from the temptation racks next to the conveyor belt. Not because I wanted a Kit Kat particularly, just that one more item would probably annoy Chicken Face a little bit.
The first-trolley lady had paid and was stood watching the packing person pack her stuff, like the Queen of fucking Sheba. Orange-haired lady checked the price of everything as it was scanned. The plastic dog bowl was 29 pesos. No, she said, it should be 22 pesos. Chicken Face was into a pissed-off monologue by now, like a crazy person. She kept trying to engage the bored-looking and overly-gelled teenage cashier boy. He smiled weakly as he called for a price check. Another bored-looking teenager came along to look at the item. Cashier boy showed him. Orange-haired lady pointed to it, too. And told him where it was in the store. She kept on telling the cashier exactly where he should be going. No, right. A bit further. The other chap came back walking slower than a slow thing. He had a different dog bowl. The cashier scanned it. This different, smaller one was 22 pesos. Orange-haired lady consulted with the daughter. Yes, they should buy the cheaper, smaller dog bowl. Good. Her points card was in her purse. She needed to find it. Which one is it? Her daughter told her that it’s the orange one.
Beep, beep, beep. Bread. Beer. Kit Kat. One hundred-odd pesos. I had the approximate amount of change in my hand. A few seconds going through it; passed it to the cashier, told the packing person that I didn’t need a bag, got my receipt, and I was done.
I walked out of the supermarket, screwing up the receipt as I left and Blake Griffin-ed it into the bin next to the entrance. I walked across the street, walked up the stairs, unlocked the door, put the bread on the side, five of the six beers in the fridge, opened the sixth beer, and sat down and watched the Cardinals and Mets play baseball on my computer screen. Not, y’know, players all stood on top of my computer; I watched a live broadcast of the game. And my life went on, as it rightly should.