She follows the script.
“Any help with your packing sir?”
Its important at this point to think of some pithy rejoinder, something along the lines of….
“Yes, do you see that woman over there? Tell her to get her finger out and pass these things to me one by one.”
She has come to expect this over the years. Less experienced shoppers might mistake the glazed look for, ‘Oh god its him again’, but I know better.
For once though, I am distracted. My muse, She Of The Town House, is still away.
There are no boxes for me to recycle, I will miss out the green points. I have forgotten the sickly sweet confection that Axeman and The Boy refer to as yoghourt. The rest of this queue is going to get restless if I can’t think of something soon. I am lost in reverie.
The pregnant pause between question and answer has stretched into an embarrassed silence. I see her hand drift towards the red button.
“No, I’ll be fine thank you.”
The rest of the queue breathes a sigh of relief. The security guard relaxes and pretends he was just stretching to adjust his tie.
But I am clearly not fine. I fail to open the first bag as she flings items from the end of the belt in my direction. Witness to my pathetic struggle to separate the two layers of static plastic she takes pity on me. Pre-opened bags are passed, the ones reserved for ‘special customers.’
We grind along to the exchange of pin, plastic, and clubpoints. The earlier silence still awkward between us.
“Would you like a day out sir?”
The minx passes me some kind of note with what I can only assume is her mobile number on it. I am careful not to inspect it then and there, lest the others should report her for fraternisation.
My day brightens.
Though flattered, I decide not to call.