**** Here’s the next instalment for Checkout Chick. Denni writes about an interaction with a customer that touches her deeply. Remember; for the full story head to Checkout Chick link above****
Cripes alive. Today was just terrible. In a good kind of way. One of those times when you have to pretend you need the loo to go off and have a good cry.
Quiet day. Very quiet. had gone over to deli to drop off some perishables left behind at checkout. Cassie – useless bitch that she is – serving this old man who had almost empty trolley before him and a many-times folded shopping list in his sun-spotted, veiny hands.
‘Yes, can I please have four kilos of shaved virginian ham.’
Stopped me in my tracks. Four kilos. Four kilos? Unlikely, no? Yes. Unlikely. Cassie, meanwhile, just nodded at him and started shoveling handfuls of shaved ham into a bag
Sidled up to man. ‘Ah, excuse me sir?’
God, face was terrible. Saddest face I’ve ever seen. Weary. Woe-begotten. ‘Are you sure you want four kilos? Is just, that’s an awful lot of ham, sir.’
Cassie stopped shoveling; didn’t want to do any work she didn’t have to. Lazy bitch.
Terrible, terrible. Man started shaking his head and then burst into tears – actually cried. Held face in hands and said, ‘I Don’t know, I don’t know.’
Cassie gave me a look which plainly said “what a loser”. Wanted to hit her. Glared in return.
He looked up at me with protuberant blue eyes – all soul gone out of them. ‘My wife used to do the shopping. She died. I’ve no idea. I have a list-‘ he waved the list at me in a defeated way.
Poor, poor fucker. Wanted to cry with him. He took out a handkerchief and dabbed his eyes and blew his nose.
‘Right,’ I said to him. Knew what this man needed was help, but also needed strength. Would have been a man of the war, this man. Stiff upper lip and all that. ‘This ham for your sandwiches, sir? And are you shopping for whole week?’
‘Yes.’ Pitiful. Pitiful.
‘Okay. Let’s start with three hundred grams, yeah? If you have some left over at the end of the week you know it’s too much, if you run out you know it’s not enough.’
‘Yes, okay then.’
I looked at Cassie who nodded and began taking bits of ham out of the bag to match three hundred grams.
Was slow day, yes, but would have done this during thronging Saturday afternoon rush (bah! haven’t worked a Saturday in five years!) Wanted to help this poor, poor man. As we shopped, we talked. His wife had a stroke and died very suddenly. She had taken care of the house, he the money. The fault of old, traditional relationships. He now with no clue how much ham to buy and had he been the one to die, she’d have no idea how to pay for electricity bill.
The man couldn’t cook, so directed him to microwave meals. He’d put sausages on his list and I imagined him eating nothing more than sausages and ham sandwiches the rest of his life. At least with microwave meals he’d get meat, carbs and vegetables. Directed him to snap lock bags so he could divide bacon and sausages into single serves and freeze. Told him lots of tips like that. Why would he know them? His wife did everything. Stopped self short at telling him to bring me his washing, but really, poor man. If he doesn’t know how much ham to buy how is he going to work out the washing machine?
He kept stammering his thanks to me but all I could think about is this poor old man going home to an empty home without his wife and how Cassie was more than willing to bag up four kilos of ham for him without even blinking.