A lady came up to the counter in the shop I’m working at today. I was having a sip from my water bottle as she approached, and I didn’t see her in front of me, my head being tilted back. As I leaned forward again, I saw her there and, for some reason, tried saying ‘how can I help you’ before taking the time to swallow my mouth full of water. The result of this was, of course, that I gurgled some Aquaman language (‘Atlantean’, if you want to get snippy) and drooled down my chin. Coupled with the fact that I was spinning on my swivel chair at the time, I can think of no better way to look as though I suffer from a severe learning difficulty than what I just did to a shocked, but oddly polite, customer.
Me: Good morning, miss.
Customer: Hey there, good morning. I was just wondering if you had any of those little, white bags. I usually buy a couple each week for my shop.
Me: Oh, actually, no, I don’t! We ran out of them, so I only have the black ones.
Customer: Oh, right. Well they look fine. I suppose I could go black for a week.
Me: Ae you sure? I hear that afterwards you might not be able to go back!
Customer: Oh? Why’s that?
Me: Never mind (nervous laugh), it’s just a… phrase.
Customer: What… What phrase is that?
Me: Uhh… you know… ‘Once you go black…’
Customer: Oh, right; yes. Well… I don’t think it applies to bags.
Me: No… probably not…
I love this story.
A conversation between myself (Me), my girlfriend (Becky), and a man at a grocery store checkout (Him), wherein I forgot that people don’t like being corrected; nor do they like know-it-alls, nor do they like it when someone turns a bit of dull small talk into an actual conversation.
So, I’ll try to make this brief… There may be a few tangents, and I’m really tired.
I was walking home from work tonight, exhausted after 13 hours shared between two jobs. It was about 11.45 at night and on my side of the street ahead of me was a pack of youths. I don’t know what the collective noun for hooded reprobates is really; a gaggle of chavs, a flock of delinquents? Anyway… I call them youths; it sums it up nicely, derogatory enough to convey my meaning, condescending enough to convey my sarcasm. I don’t know what age I was when I began to refer to ‘punk kids’ as ‘youths’, but I think it was around the time I once saw a 13 year with a cigarette who was so indifferent and unintelligent, that he tried to spit on the floor, as so many smokers do, and couldn’t be bothered to turn his head to the left or right, thus combined with the forward momentum of his walking meant he spat on his own shoe. Anyway, they were youths, and I decided to avoid them for some reason. They were drunk and loud and boisterous, and I couldn’t be bothered to be near them. I figured I’d just cross the street.
This is where shit went wrong.
Becky is away in Manchester for the night, so, being the piece of shit that I am, I decided to get some Thai takeaway from the place next door that I never go to, instead of cooking something I already have at home. Anyway, I walk up to the counter, “Hi, how are you? Blah blah blah, food please!” (I didn’t literally say that of course, but you get the gist), and the lady smiles, giggles a bit, and walks round the corner to the kitchen. All of a sudden, I hear her saying stuff in Thai, and it’s followed by an uproar of laughter from however many people were standing around the corner. She comes back a second later, looking at me and holding back her giggling, and then starts doing some busy work behind the counter.
Already fucking awkward.