Welcome to Checkout Chick, a fiction piece I’m writing for a bit of relief. It’s the story of Denni, a checkout Chick, who’s begun writing a blog to document her life. The piece will be updated regularly, and I’ll post on my main blog when this happens.
(1) ABOUT ME, INTRO, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT
Right. So am nothing extraordinary, me. Am very average person. Very average life. Am thirty. Own own unit (flat, apartment. Whatever) or at least the bank does, those bastards. Have never been to university, have never left the country. Name is Denise Potter but everyone calls me Denni – thank God as Denise is worst name imaginable. Denni is also the name on my name badge, is no way I was letting them put Denise on there.
I work as a Checkout Chick. I used to be one of those girls who worked on checkout but aspired to be something else. Some one else. Thing is, there isn’t anything else I can think I’d want to rather do. No one pays you to watch bad TV and eat chocolate. Or drink coffee. Or smoke cigarettes.
I don’t aspire to be anyone better. I know where I sit on the food chain. I’m not smart, but I’m not stupid, either. I’m not pretty, but I’m not ugly. I’m not thin (fuck no) but I’m not fat. I’m not rich, but then I’m not poor, either. I’m just your run of the mill average Australian whose bored shitless with her life but doesn’t know much else to do with it. Why not write a document it then, yeah? I’ll see how that goes. Not too sure I’ve the motivation in me, nor the commitment. I can’t even commit to a regular lunch date with friends.
Am a little bit worried about what people at work would think about this. But then, those of them that do have computers at home (astonishingly, not many) would only use it to look up porn. Some of the night fill junior burgers, the ones that stack shelves to get them through university, the ones that don’t really fit in, they’d be internet users. But they’d spend their time playing those warcraft type games so I’ve no issue with them.
I’ll try to be as honest as possible, which sometimes I am to a fault. Can’t promise I’ll be entertaining. I mean, for fuck’s sake, I’m a checkout chick – how entertaining can my life be?
So that’s me. Denni. Have been nice enough to tell you all my real name but if any of you address me as anything else but Denni I’ll be well pissed. Is bad enough I have to put up with Denise on my drivers license and having the police smirk at me whenever they pull me over. Which is often. I life in the country, for fuck’s sake (there we are again) driving fast is about the only thing entertaining we have to do. At least I do it in an average hatchback type car. No V8’s or fully sick subwoofers for me.
(2) SLOW SARAH
Fuck she’s annoying. Needs a cattle prod up her arse. Slowest scanner in all history. Customers know this and avoid her checkout at all costs. Newbies though, un-regulars – they’ve no idea. See no line at her checkout; start loading up. Have stacked all their groceries on conveyor belt, wonder why it’s not moving. Notice five to fifteen second delay between each item scanned (I tell you!). Yes, I’ve counted. Checkout can be bloody boring at times. Every checkout chick can put three full trolleys compared to Sarah’s half one. Every customer going through her checkout has this pained, frustrated look on their faces. Even had one business woman gesturing for Slow Sarah to hurry along. No doing. Sarah in her own weird little world. And she is weird. I’ve no evidence yet, but am sure she’s one of those weird Christian types. Suspicion due to slowness – patience is a virtue, etc etc – and weird clouded smiley face like she’s just been hypnotised. By the Lord Jesus, I’m betting.
If was up to me would sack Slow Sarah. But perhaps front end manager just likes some entertainment in her day. Cripes alive, don’t we all need it.
Ban of plastic bags in South Australia the single most annoying thing to have happened to us Checkout Chicks. First we had to endure months and months and months of customers complaining to us. As if we created the legislation. Complaining was all a ruse so we could charge money for bags rather than giving them away for free. That was a conspiracy to trample the average Australian. Some bloke in a suit had said that to me. Had a gold Citybank visa card and a Mercedes car key. Looked at him for a good few moments before taking a deep breath and saying, ‘mate, get stuffed. There’s nothing average about you. I drive a three year old Hyundai and it’s the newest car I’ve ever owned. I earn four hundred dollars a week and am thirty and still working as a checkout chick. If there’s anyone average, it’s me. If it’s anyone being trampled on, is me.’ Fecker. Didn’t add the last bit out loud, only in head. ‘F’ word frequently in head when on checkout as most customers are feckers. (Please substitute the ‘e’ for a ‘u’. Am worried about amount of actual swearing.)
Hate time wasted due to bag ban. Spend first thirty seconds of transaction unfolding lump of bags thrust at you by customer. Inevitably they’re always scrunched inside one another and you have to flatten them out to hook up to bag base. That’s another thing – how long has ban bag been on for now? Two years? Three? Supermarkets still have not changed bag base into something that can hold re-usable bags better. Still using ones from regular bag days. Designed for those regular bags. In old days (fuck me am sounding like my parents) bags all attached and would stay in open position while you loaded them. New-fangled bags just close in on themselves because you can’t hook them properly. Very, very frustrating.
Will say this – the proper non-plastic variety of re-usable bags quite brilliant. Box-shaped. Perfect for packing. Get super excited when mums of large families come in because more often than not they purchase a large array of boxed items: Cereal, Muesli bars and such like. They all pack quite neatly into those bags. Is like game of real-life Tetris.
Customers literally don’t give a fuck. They complain if you pack cold items or meats, let’s say, in with things like detergents, or soft items like bread in with canned goods (both of which I would never do but is beside the point) yet they pack items onto conveyor belt in haphazard manner so is almost impossible not to do.
Today put bag of cold goods on loading side quite satisfied I’d kept all the cold goods together. Customer taking own time unloading basket. Then, suddenly, after cereals, pasta, canned items and cleaning goods appears a litre tub of yogurt, block of butter, tub of margarine and pack of those creme brulee deserts I quite fancy.
Annoyed the shit out of me because litre tub of yogurt would have been packed in bottom of cold bag next to the milk but instead had thrown in bunch of bananas and bag of apples to make up the space. Much re-organising ensued and admittedly I tutted with annoyance. Feeble apologies from the customer but knew what she was really thinking – that getting items out of basket/trolley shouldn’t be customers job anyhow. We, the staff should be doing it. Feckers.
(5) BASKET BASTARDS
Hate Basket Bastards. Lazy bastards. Can I just say – am not tall. Five foot two. Arms not long. Work six hours straight standing up and lifting heavy objects from one side to another. But these lazy so-and-so’s think that it’s perfectly okay to dump basket on conveyor belt and watch me struggle to grab items from its depths which is obviously difficult for me to do when can barely reach. Sometimes am in super bitchy mood and command customer to unload basket. Other times am in super fowl mood and simply tip basket onto side so contents topple out, sometimes breaking. Customer gets angry – so what? Say, oh, I’m sorry, bitch face (or bastard-face) is the only way I can do it as cannot reach in basket to pull out items. Look innocent. Flutter eyelids. People hate when you’re sarcastic.
Are their lives really so difficult, so stressful that they can’t take thirty seconds out of their lives to unload their baskets? Terrible. Really.
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.
Lovely man who’d lost his wife stopped by customer service today. I wasn’t there; out back in tearoom having lunch. Boss lady (Mel) came in with tin of Danish biscuit. The real buttery kind, sprinkled with large sugar crystals. Said they were for me as a thank you. Lovely, lovely man. Have had to hide tin, though. Paddy (brother) would polish them all off in no time. God knows where he puts it, skinny prick.
(8) BRIGHT EYES
Life on checkout very boring. Not much to do but scanning, fake smiling at customers, trying to tune out kids screaming for a Kinder Surprise. Used to be Caramellos and before that Freddo Frogs and before that Bertie Beetles. One of the main things that keeps us occupied is perving on customers. Thing is – we live in small town. Pretty much know every face that walks into supermarket. Familiarity is not attractive. However sometimes you’re so desperate you begin to think usual suspects are good looking which never helps. False attractiveness breeds contempt. With yourself.
So today new blood comes in and we all stand up and notice. Code yellows being hissed out from all sides. Oh look at him, he’s attractive. Anyone seen him before? No, no. Attractiveness only noticed by me, Melissa and Maria. ie – older generation. Because man in question older. Forties, I believe. Younger checkout chicks find him too old for hotness factor.
He’s tall, first of all. Slim to medium build. Greying hair – salt and pepper like George Clooney, but not smug-looking like George Clooney. High cheekbones. Blue/green eyes. Sparkling. Will call him Bright Eyes.
Was lucky one. Bright eyes came in through my checkout. Sucked in, you bitches.
Tried to identify what type of person Bright Eyes is by goods purchased. Quite easy to become detective-like when checkout chick. Bright Eyes purchased bread, butter, milk and single twirl bar. Very stock-standard stuff. Twirl bar telling. Cadburys fan but doesn’t trust himself to buy entire bar. Doesn’t have wife or live-in girlfriend. Would have bought chocolate to share for her. Bread very bachelor food. Probably sits at home and eats toast instead of cooking self meal. Poor fucker.
No wallet. Took money out of pocket (black work pants). Small notes. No credit card, dam it. Credit card would have given me name. No such like. Maria and Mel descended upon checkout when he left but could give them no further information.
Bright Eyes small excitement in our day.
Colloquial term. Ten minute break. ‘Smoko’ as most people used time for cigarette break. Still a lot of smokers working in supermarkets. Really, wouldn’t you?
Two designated smoko areas. Outside of deli next door usually where lunch smoko taken. Day workers from supermarket take over two tables and are as rowdy as a bunch of drunken buffoons. Leave area littered with cigarette butts. Deli owners hate us.
Other area is outside back door of store. Old milk crates used as tables and chairs. Means you end up being on first name basis with delivery drivers. Jovial. Bordering on friendship. Some delivery drivers even invited to Christmas do.
Smoko’s often spent complaining about customers. Venting session. Some organisations have in-horse councilors. We have smokos.
Darling brother Paddy. He likes having me around because it means he gets to eat things other than fish and chips and microwave meals. Five years ago we made the decision to move in together. I rent out my unit and pay Paddy board. Share groceries and such like. Means we’re both in better financial position.
I like having Paddy around because means I have someone to fill up car, check tires and all those things that I can’t be arsed thinking about. We work well together, me and Paddy. Argue like crazy, yes. Annoy the fuck out of one another, yes. Laugh a lot, yes, yes. Everyone says we look alike. Both short, brown haired, brown eyed. Two youngest in a very large Irish family so found it necessary to bond at young age. Thank goodness, really.
Convinced Paddy to take my car today. Gave him money for petrol. Came in to Supermarket looking absolutely thunderous. Didn’t matter to him that had customer. Customer didn’t mind, either. Female customer. Females like Paddy.
‘Tires are supposed to have air in them.’
‘Yes, yes.’ Same lecture. Always.
‘Engine supposed to have oil in it.’
Yes, yes. ‘Is what have you for.’
‘Window washers need water in them.’
‘Yes, yes, is what have you for.’
Paddy likes to complain about my lack of self-sufficiency. Makes him feel he has a purpose.
Customer quite interested in my conversation with Paddy. While she giving me money she turns to Paddy and makes comment of how she wished she had someone like him to check her tires. Paddy all, I’ll check your tires. Her eyes shining. ‘You’ll check my tires?’ Metaphors galore. Do not want to think what they really went off to do.
Think that Paddy got the last of the charisma left in our mother’s womb. Have tried to flirt, have tried to be charismatic, but it never happens. Is so typical, though. My work, mine. Yet Paddy strolls in and get’s a date. Is unbelievable. And completely unfair.
Bright Eyes came in. Again much interest. Again paid in cash. Again came through my checkout. Mel has decided he is no longer good looking as was wearing grey cardigan which is apparently just not acceptable on any man. I didn’t mind, though. Firstly, he smiled at me when I gave him his change. Secondly, it seems to be some kind of uniform, his clothes. Last time he came in he was wearing white shirt and black pants. Same today but with added cardigan. As have no fashion sense myself cannot begrudge others for same infliction.
Our store manager, Bill, is on annual leave for two weeks. He’s gone to Thailand. The general consensus is that he’s taken his mother with him. he’s that kind of bloke, you know?
Replacement is a man called Tony from the city. City slicker, though imagine him strolling into store with legs wide apart, wearing cowboy boots and toting a pistol. Seems like that kind of bloke. Keen to be everyone’s friend. Immediately got everyone onside with his charisma. But then, isn’t that what Hitler did? Will watch out for discrimination against Jews. Hang on, there are no Jews. Hang on, have not actually ever met a Jew. Do Jews exist? Apparently not in South Australia.
Tearoom suddenly awash with various items we could only ever dream about. Nestcafe instead of International Roast. Tim Tams and Mint Slices instead of Arrowroot Biscuits. Bill would never let us write off any such items for staff use. More often than not have to beg even for carton of milk.
One person that doesn’t like him is Boozer. Boozer works night fill but oddly is around quite a lot during the day. Has been here as long as me. Boozer’s the one we always ask when we need a price check because he won’t ignore you like the other lads. Probably because he fears each and every one of us that works checkout. Do not know Boozer’s real name. Am pretty sure no one does, bar Rosemary who does the pays. Would be funny, though, if ‘Boozer’ is written on the top of his pay slip. Must ask him one day if can take a look. Boozer on an official document. How Australian.
Boozer called Tony ‘Fucking wanker.’ Yet he tends to use this description about most people. Am assuming that Tony, who has no knowledge of how things run down here, doesn’t know that Boozer cannot be rushed, at anything, and that all of us have given up trying. Could very well be, though, that Tony told Boozer that showing a good inch of arse crack was inappropriate for a supermarket environment. We’ve given up trying with that, too.
(13) FULLY-SICK SUBWOOFER
Think am being stalked. Not as glamorous as I imagined. Paddy and I at home watching Bones. Am not sure what is sadder, really. That am thirty year old woman still living with her brother or that I watch Bones. have become slightly obsessed with it after initially hating the show. That’s what prolonged exposure does to you. Paddy and I would watch Friends, which we like, and Bones always follows Friends. Every night on triple one Hits. Neither of us could be arsed changing channel and so now quite like Bones. I think I like it as have always had a thing for nerdy types.
Anyway, concentrating on Bones quite difficult as V8 sounding vehicle kept driving up and down road, massive exhaust, base thump, thump, thumping as it went. Paddy started making jokes about amount of petrol it consuming.
‘Ten dollars, twenty dollars, thirty-‘ until sound of vehicle died down and Paddy deduced he’d gone off to the servo. It concerned us both that someone on our street may own this vehicle. That the windows would be rattling every night. Memory of Harley Man still fresh in our minds. Must have been a shift worker, Harley Man – would arrive home at two in the morning, waking us both, house shaking as if was an earthquake. Thankfully Harley man got busted for drugs and motorbike confiscated. Thank goodness as am not very good with broken sleep. Do not need repeat of that.
Get into work next morning (this morning) and Marco from Fruit and Veg declared himself the culprit.
‘Did’ja here me last night, Denni? Cruising past your house all night. Why didn’t chya come out?’
Weird sense of romance, Marco. ‘That was you rattling the windows?’
‘Yeah, my fully-sick subwoofer.’
‘Is that the technical term?’ Realised Marco’s life sadder than mine. But then, I at least have variety in my job. He only deals with fruits and vegetables and the odd fungus.
‘Why didn’chya come out?’
Bewildered. Driving of booming vehicle some antiquated ritual to entice me out of home. Perhaps is like peacock thrusting it’s feather in face of prospective mate. Unfortunately for Marco, am not turned on by V8 motor vehicles, or, actually, any motor vehicle. Probably makes me thoroughly un-Australian.
Marco not deterred. Wants to take me on ‘cruise’ in ‘hotted up V8.’ Is father’s old statesman. Disturbing thing – Marco thirty, not eighteen. Is sad, sad life he leads. Yet these are my options, really: blokes like Marco who thinks attractiveness to women comes in the form of copious amounts of hair gel, loud exhausts and fully-sick subwoofers. Really, is wonder am not still a virgin.
It seems that Tony is losing his luster with some of the staff. Fun loving and care free – perhaps a little too much. Apparently was MIA for three hours yesterday. Boozer swears Tony had dilated pupils and blood shot eyes on his return. Am inclined to believe Boozer. He’d certainly know the signs.
Then comes word from Rosemary that Tony was sleeping on the job. Rosemary is the money lady. Spends day locked up in vault-like room counting the takings. Many don’t believe her statement as Rosemary is viewed as bitch. Once accused me of being $200 short in till. Spent week agonising about what ridiculous mistake I must have made to be so much out. Then Rosemary tells me that all was well, she’d simply mislaid the $200. No apologies. Mislaid where, I tell you? Suspect that she herself must have fallen asleep in box-like room. I mean – who would know? No one else allowed in the vault with her.
Also – embarrassingly – Tony spent ten minutes at checkout of one of the casuals trying to withdraw cash. His girlfriend, only about twenty, I mean, is disgusting, was waiting anxiously beside him. Was like auction in reverse, Monica said. Started reverse bidding at 400. No luck. (Monica was pleased. Had just started shift and didn’t even have four hundred cash). Tried $300. Not enough. Tried $200. Not enough. Walked away with $50 in the end which he handed to girlfriend. Sulking, she was.
‘Yeah, ’cause that’s barely enough for one hit,’ Mel said.
‘You what?’ I asked. Monica and I looking at her blankly. Fuck we’re naive.
‘Meth addict,’ Mel explained.
Is disturbing what she knows, really.
(15) EARLY SHIFT
Am terribly moody. Amy is away this week and she’s the one that normally does the early shift. Haven’t done it for years and know why. Am horrible in the morning.
Worst thing about morning shift is waiting around by back door in freezing cold feeling very much like desperate woman at door of boyfriend she thinks will dump her. You ring bell and dance from side to side (due to cold) and wait until someone (usually Bill, but in this case Tony in Bill’s absence) to let you in. Is almost degrading.
Managed to smoke full cigarette whilst buzzing bell at frequent intervals before Tony let me in. Said, ‘you’re cutting it fine.’ Yes, because have been outside for fifteen minutes waiting for you, ya great lump. Didn’t say this. Tony not Bill. Can say what like to Bill. Bill’s scared of me. Not sure why.
A lot to do when you’re the first one in so need to arrive at least half an hour early. Now only had fifteen minutes and am not very good at moving quickly in early morning.
First things first is to get cigarette cartons. Each night we take these out of kiosk and put them in big safe at back of store. This because desperate drug addicts in town frequently break into supermarkets to steal cigarettes. Big money in cigarettes on black market. Apparently.
Have to unload all cartons into trolley and take to Kiosk to load into cupboards. surprised as Tony already loaded up fags into trolley for me. Quite considerate. No matter how much he fears me, Bill would never do this.
Head down to front end with Tony, popping head into meat room to say morning to all. Meat section a weird one. All are poms. Not one Aussie in whole bunch. But then, suppose is quite like fruit and veg where all are Italian. Supermarket is very multi-cultural place but also quite discriminatory.
Meat room full of raging music, blood and carcasses. Smelt horrible. Always does.
‘Denni! Thought you were allergic to the morning!’ This came from Ralph. Head meat man.
‘Yes, yes, ha, ha, ha.’
Continued down to front end. Tony helped me throw cartons haphazardly onto floor of kiosk to put away later. Note – kiosk no longer referred to as kiosk but ‘customer service.’ Do not call it that. When started, back when floors were cement instead of linoleum, kiosk was own separate little box with own roof and everything. Re-vamp opened it up and did away with seedy back section where many a picture of naked men hung on wall. Acknowledgement of change of name not made by older staff. Will always be kiosk. Probably because we don’t actually offer any customer service.
Tony had to unlock cash drawer and cupboard for me. Green bag with seal contained my float. Took out my till. Tony left me the keys for the registers.
My till. Is cleanest one in store, my till. All us old-timers have our own till drawers. Have had mine since I started. Every now and then a newbie will use my till even though written on back is ‘Denni – Touch and Die!’ Is mine, mine, mine and no one else allowed to touch it. Offending newbies given stern lecture and never offend again. You’ve got to keep them in line.
Sort float into till. Am very particular with money. All little plastic windows must face same way (top right hand corner). Like till to be organised. Was terrible period when currency was moving from paper to plastic. Hated having two varieties of notes in my till. Would often deposit old paper money into pod – little device attached to bottom of register where larger money deposited for safe keeping, hundreds and fifties if you have surplus of them. Would get into trouble with Rosemary for this but didn’t care – would take her wrath over anomalies of currency any time.
Took keys to turn on all registers. Already three people – same offenders as always – at door waiting for opening time. Sad fuckers. Was not even six in the morning. Had they nothing better to do? Vince strolled over from fruit and veg on route to back area for more produce.
‘Would you look at them? Feel like animal in zoo with them lot pressed against the glass staring me down.’
‘Yes,’ nodded head to own entrance. ‘Probably thinking – “can’t he see us? Why’s he not opening the doors?”‘
‘Fuckers,’ Vince said.
Is terrible that vast proportion of people that work in customer service actually hate customers.
Hadn’t worked an opening with Tony so didn’t know if he was anything like Bill when it came to opening the store. Bill hates customers that stand outside the door waiting for us to open. Sometimes, if in specially vindictive mood, he let’s six o’clock come and go. By six-o-three the customers start banging on the door and yelling – usually at Vince as he’s the only one visible, working in fruit and veg – to open up. When that doesn’t work they form a kind of alliance. Huddle in a group before sending out one of the member – usually an appeasing little old lady – over to the checkout entrance to do the same. And we all have a little laugh at the poor fuckers before Bill eventually opens the doors at six-oh-five.
Boozer was right. Tony is an arsehole. Back of kiosk is set higher to enable us to see over cigarette shelves to front counter and from there we have a clear view of both entrances. Tony opened main entrance at five fifty-five. Was mutiny. Hadn’t even loaded cigarettes. Hadn’t even set up register at front counter. Saw vince strolling around isle with trolley load of broccoli – he hadn’t even loaded up half of greens yet. Saw Sally in bakery – she hadn’t loaded up most of bread yet. Everyone enraged.
Phone buzzed in kiosk. Was Christina, deli manager. ‘You know the bastard Tony has opened doors already? Haven’t even sliced ham yet. Customer wanting two hundred grams. Is bastard.’
Christina hung up, probably because customer was still waiting for said ham.
Tony came and opened doors at my end. Glanced at cigarette cartons on floor and said, ‘you better get those packed up, Denni.’
Is crisis with cigarettes. Four cartons missing of Escort Blue. Fingers pointed at me as am smoker. But then, aren’t we all? Mel reasonable, said to Maria (third in charge, ancient woman. Friends with Rosemary – enough said) that am Marlboro smoker, not Escort Blue. However, as ‘misplacement’ of cigarettes happened between Sunday close and Monday am only culprit. Was my job to unload cigarette cartons from back safe. Ah, yes, but didn’t do. Tony did it for me. Mystery surrounds. But still, don’t like to be accused of anything. When I steal something – normally Fruit Chocs from pick’n’mix – am very open about it. But would never steal cigarettes. Wouldn’t be able to complain loudly and often about the cost of them, would I?
General consensus is that stock take of cigarettes must have been incorrect as another carton missing. Thankfully Monica on early shift, not me and Monica not a smoker.
Very strange, though. Mel did not inform Tony of missing carton this time and told me to keep mouth shut.
Do not like it. Mel had mad glint in her eye. Gets it when about to fire people, which she quite enjoys. (Which is why I can’t understand why she hasn’t yet fired Slow Sarah). Hope she’s not about to fire me. Thought we were friends. And proper friends, not just because she wants to shag my brother (though have sneaky suspicion she already has).
Dorothy in today. Dorothy with us once or twice a month and basically spends all her time pretending to shop while secretly on the lookout for would-be thieves. Marvelous job, really. Do wonder how you’d get into it. Perhaps you have to be un-assuming like Dorothy. Goodness knows why they bother bringing her in, though. Law already on thieves side. They can stuff goodness knows what down their pants right in front of your face and you can’t do a thing until they leave the store. But then you have to catch them, don’t you? But can’t use force on them. Can’t even touch them. They’ll have you for assault. In all time have worked on checkout there’s only ever been one occasion when something happened whilst was there. Once. Dorothy had clocked this guy filling his trousers and alerted Bill and Mark (2IC). They went out fruit and veg entrance to round him when he exited past checkouts. I’d been dispatched to “wash windows” by door and when he exited, me, Maria, Bill and Dorothy rounded on him. Thank goodness he just gave up. According to Bill the paperwork involved wasn’t worth the confectionary the man had been trying to steal. Once, when I wasn’t there, a whole family were stuffing meat down their trousers. Husband, wife and two kids. Meat, I tell you. Ralph threw all of it out once they got caught. Said was no way he was going to sell steaks that had been touching a fat man’s balls.
We have security technique that works very well and has done so for years. If anyone spots suspicious behaviour – most of time kids trying to nick a few Mars Bars – we get on loud speaker and say – ‘code red on isle four!’ We then send someone menacing to walk down isle to “investigate”. Usually Boozer, if he’s about or Dan, his day time counterpart who is on the roids and therefore massive. Scares the kids shitless and they drop everything and run out of store.
The mystery of the missing cigarette cartons has been revealed, and hasn’t been pleasant. Exciting, yes. Pleasant, no. Mel was behind it all. Not the stealing of the cigarettes, but of discovering the culprit. Suspicious of what had occurred on mornings Monica and I opened. So Mel opened herself one morning, having worked late the previous night. Knew how many cartons there were. Called Dorothy in when there were missing cartons again.
Many, many cartons discovered in the boot of Tony’s car. House searched by police. Terrible, terrible situation. Boozer was all, ‘told you he was an arsehole.’ Not quite correct. Is a thief, not an arsehole. But have realised. Boozer’s opinion of people always correct. May not be good at pulling pants up, Boozer, but good at judging people.
We all feel a bit tainted, really, having someone like that amongst us. Angry calls to head office regarding Tony’s placement. Now head office is busy calling other stores he’s worked for. What worries me is if some poor sod like me has been sacked at other stores because they’ve taken the blame. Very easy to blame lowly checkout chick. Very easy. Is like when $200 was missing from float. First conclusion was that it must have been me, not the superior that had counted wrong. Is very telling, that is.
Bright Eyes. Is so, so gorgeous. Adore him. Think has very well moved on from normal checkout crush – crush due to boredom rather than actual attract-ability – to actual crush. Stomach does weird kind of hollow thing. Feel a little nauseas even.
Bright Eyes always comes in through my checkout. Cannot stop evaluating what he buys. He likes his milk. Cereal big help. Bought nutrigrain. Nutri-Grain masculine breakfast cereal would have been different if he’d bought Cornflakes or Special K. But Nutri-Grain. Tells me most definitely that Bright Eyes lives alone.
Also bought deodorant. Tells me he has good personal hygiene. Bought Nivea for Men. Not sure what that says about him, mind. If he’d bought Brute, could have said he was a bogan. Obviously, is not.
Again no card but cash. Doesn’t Bright Eyes know we’re in a digital age? However, today there was conversation. Not just a hello from him and ‘that’ll be eight dollars ninety’ from me.
‘How’re you doing today?’
‘Yes, um, good.’ Cripes alive. Should be me asking him how he is.
‘So. You have much on this weekend, or do you have to work?’
‘Crikey, I never work weekends.’
‘Lucky you.’ Was no bitterness but decided from polite banter he does work weekends. Ask him what he does. Ask him what he does! Was yelling this to self. Didn’t work. Couldn’t open mouth to utter the words. Is probably am because am not a hairdresser. They’re nosy to all hell. Ask many, many personal questions when in chair. Is like some special course is taken when at hairdressing school. Suspect hairdressers better at interrogation than FBI. Possibly why I stopped going to hairdressers to get colour done (premature greying). Is longer spent in chair and therefore more opportunity to pester you. Also; Paddy been out with many, many hairdressers and inevitably you end up with one who knows he’s your brother and then you get the ‘why didn’t he call?’ speech.
Despite lack of nosiness in self, Bright Eyes nosy man by nature. Or perhaps inquisitive. Or perhaps just being nice and this is normal behaviour and am so un-normal that I don’t even realise it. He said –
‘So you live in town?’
‘Yes, yes. In town. You?’
‘Yes, yes, same. Just moved.’
‘Why?’ Couldn’t help self. Town a shit hole.
Wry smile. ‘Work.’
‘Well. Hope they’re paying you lots of money.’ Transaction finished so handing over change. Bright Eyes has lovely, lovely hands. Have told you am hands obsessed? Am hands obsessed. If man has beautiful hands does not matter what face is like. Fortunately Bright Eyes had beautiful both.
He laughed at my money comment. No. Chuckled. Then kind of nodded before telling me it didn’t matter what you got paid as long as you enjoyed it.
Obviously Bright Eyes rich. Only rich people would talk such nonsense.
Marco beginning to be a bit of a problem. Have said no to him one too many times and the man has pride, after all. Mistake made by Marco was telling others he fancied me. Don’t think he ever really fancied me per say, just am most attractive fish in the tank if you know what I mean.
According to Marco my constant denials must mean one thing and one thing only – that am big fat lezzer.
Is wonderful, no, that the male species has come such a long way? In high school if you reject a man you are called frigid, in adulthood, a lesbian. As if being lesbian big terrible thing. Really shows how far we haven’t come when lesbian being used as an insult.
Have I unwillingly led Marco on in anyway? I don’t think I have, really, but am not always that aware of own behaviour. Did go round to his house once, early on. This before he was openly talking about his fully-sick subwoofers. Remember sitting in shed with can of coke and feeling that whole situation quite juvenile. Not at all asked into the house. Then old bandy-legged woman with jet black hair, thick gold-hooped earrings and an apron waddled into shed, caught sight of me and started screeching in Italian. Caught the word ‘putana’ in the mix of words, knew well what that meant. Hadn’t known Marco still lived at home. Hadn’t known he was in one of those Italian families.
I’ll tell you the type. Grew up in an Italian community so know the story well. The boys live at home with their mother who does everything for them. They sleep around but are never satisfied with women because what they really want is someone like their mother who does everything for them and modern girls just aren’t like that. In turn Italian mother refers to all women – particularly ‘Australiaans’ (ie, non-Italians) as sluts because their greatest fear is their little prince being taken away from them. This is because, more often than not, their own husbands barely talk to them as their wives never lived up to their own mothers. Their sons are all those Italian women have.
Daughters of Italian households are expected to be virgins at marriage and aren’t allowed to move out of home until their wedding day. These girls will often settle for pretty much anyone just to get out of the house or spend their lives playing the virgin while being the biggest slut in the world.
Is madness to get involved in this kind of thing either way. May have settled for a bit of fun with Marco, but being presented with his family life like that had me thinking twice. His mum still glares at me whenever she comes in to do her shopping. Scrutinises everything I do. Change I give her, items I scan. Simply because she saw me alone with her precious Marco.
If it wasn’t for Paddy I’d tell her (if she could understand English that is) that her little family isn’t so precious after all. That her daughter, Pia, shouldn’t have worn white at her elaborate wedding (four hundred guests at a function centre in the city) because Pia was something of a putana herself, sleeping with Paddy right up until her kitchen party.
If there’s one thing I hate in life is hypocrites.
Marco will continue to be bane of my existence until he finds another poor sod to stroke his ego. Hope it happens soon as can’t be bothered with the drama of it all.
Checkout Chicks are like builders (own homes never finished). Cannot abide grocery shopping. Wonder if prostitutes have similar problem – come home from night of sex, takes one look at boyfriend and says, no thank you, have been fucking all day. Particularly hate shopping at work. If you’re in the store you’re on call. Once when doing weekly shop and heard own name being called over PA. ‘Denni, please open checkout two. Denni.’ Mass of customers in queues, vast queues, looking around to see where this so-called Denni was. Lazy, they’re thinking. We’re standing around waiting to be served and she’s not at her checkout where she should always be. I appear, carting trolley. ‘Am finished. No longer working.’ Sue, second in charge, didn’t seem to care. Nor did customers. I cared. Had chocolate chip ice cream in my trolley. Only reason that lines were so long is because Slow Sarah was on duty. Have tried to tell Mel a number of times – when you roster Slow Sarah onto a shift you need an extra person.
Could go to other supermarket in town, of course, but that would be silly. No discount there. And what’s the point of working on checkout unless you can get a ten percent discount? No point, no point at all.
Have banned Paddy from shopping expeditions. He’s too slow. Wants to look at everything. Is especially interested in items with a reduced-to-clear sticker. Is odd because he’ll then go and spend five dollars extra on a particular box of muesli. We also argue on milk – Paddy thinks is okay to by home brand yet I always refuse. Know for a fact (as many of them are customers) that Dairy Farmers (brand) pay dairy farmers (farmers) more for milk than anyone else. Support those who support the community, I say. Also we argue over milk size. For whatever reason I cannot poor milk from a two litre bottle. When making nightly after-dinner drinks (tea or hot chocolate for Paddy, instant coffee for me) there is much swearing from kitchen as milk is spilled. What is wrong with cartons anyway? Simple ingenious device. Why mess with it? Plus spout offers perfect pouring solution.
We also have difference of opinion on paper towels (me expensive doesn’t-break-up-when-wet Handy Ultra variety and Paddy, home brand) as well as toilet paper. We both agree on the thick but soft sturdy stuff but Paddy likes the scented variety where as I am adamant that perfumes and such like are not good for my lady bits.
Often shopping is undertaken on Sunday’s when Paddy is at church. he complains about non-involvement before realising he has bacon and a full packet of Tim Tams in the fridge and reluctantly agrees that I’d done an okay job on the task.
Question – what did we do as a nation before Tim Tams? Am sure they’re not always been around – yes? What other chocolate-filled and chocolate-coated biscuits satisfied us beforehand? For the life of me cannot think of one. Don’t think there’s ever been an occasion when there wasn’t Tim Tams in the pantry.
Am on leave. No checkout chicking for me. Not going away or anything, and is just for a week. Is forced on me. Have got too much holiday pay. Suppose big-wigs in head office have an alarm that goes off once someone reaches a certain point. Red flashing lights and all. Fear is that if I quit there’s a lot of jingle they have to pay out to me. Would rather it not happen. Am not going to be that person. That person. The poor sod who has no life outside of the supermarket and therefore goes into work to chat to everyone. No. Hate the place. Hate my job. Why would I want to go there?
(24) MINCE AND THE GREAT BANANA WAR
So I lasted one day. Turns out the reason most people go into work during leave is to gloat. Ha, ha, look at me, I don’t have to put up with any of this crap.
Half the staff saw me enter, obviously not for shopping purposes and decided it was smoko time. We all went out and took over the tables outside the deli.
Turns out am very lucky am not working this week. Poor Ralph, hands were shaking with rage – could barely light cigarette. I wasn’t aware what had happened because Today Tonight and A Current Affair have been banned from the household. ‘Is not current affairs!’ Is what Paddy often yells at the screen before changing it over. Ralph and various other members of the staff watch because ‘it’s important to know what the enemy is doing.’
There’s always some story or the other about the big supermarket chains. It’s either us or the petrol companies but seeing as though we’re buying out a lot of petrol stations we still get mentioned in the story. The last story was about how the two major supermarkets price fix to stamp out small business. Had a good chuckle about that one with staff from competition supermarket came over to check what price we were selling bananas for. Was after great banana war. Everyone (bar the fruit and veg shop that almost went under because of it) remembers it fondly.
Affected the whole town, the banana war. We weren’t directly affected because the only other shops in our complex are the deli, a newsagent (which am told by the grocery boys has pitiful supply of porn mags) and a hairdresser. We stayed out of it as best we could but the whole thing became so huge that many of us took off down the street to watch it unfold with our own eyes.
What happened, or so the story goes, is that the fruit and veg store next to our competitor got massive delivery of bananas at very reasonable price. This is after Queensland flooding when banana prices had just begun to come down after record highs of fifteen dollars a kilo. Was ridiculous. Strange thing is, only ever had real craving for bananas when they became financially unattainable. You don’t really care if your banana has a bruise on it when their at regular price but when you’ve had to mortgage your house just to buy a bunch it kind of pisses you off.
At this point bananas were selling for $5.99 per kilo. Good price for current climate. Fruit and veg store gets surplus stock and puts price at $4.99. Being in the same complex meant that our competitors had to match the price. Fruit and veg owner, tired of having prices beaten by supermarket chain with immense buying power thought, fUck you, ya bastards. Brought his prices down again.
Might I add that all of these events happened on one single day.
Fruit and veg owner got the supermarket down to $2.99. Ridiculous! Trouble was, supermarket running out of stock. Fast. Rang suppliers, trying to get bananas. Didn’t know fruit and veg place was having same problem. Didn’t know that both were playing same dirty tricks as the other – ie, going and purchasing bananas from one another’s store and re-selling the bananas. Supermarket managed to convince other stores in area to hair their bananas deivered to them. Prices got down to 99c a kilo. When news came in that this happened – by way of one of our regulars walking into store and screaming it at the top of his lungs – our store emptied. Mel decided price too good to be true and went to buy some herself but was forced to take orders from us staff who had to stay and work. Vince from fruit and veg realised that price was cheaper than wholesale price so he took Marco to buy stock for our store.
Town was awash with bananas. No one could allow such cheap prices to pass them by. Every bakery in town sold banana cake for the next week. Cafes had banana-orientated deserts. Delis and sandwich shops sold banana milk shakes this time with real banana, not just flavouring and Sunday Paddy came back from Church to announce that almost every product sold at the old lady cake stall had banana in it. We ate many deep friend bananas. Was madness. Really. And all because large supermarket chain couldn’t be beaten by small mum and dad store. Our competitors made a killing. Unlike fruit and veg people, they had other goods to sell. When popping into supermarket for insanely cheap bananas, might as well buy a few other bits and pieces while there.
Banana day was best we ever had – hardly any customers.
Anyway, was in middle of story about today, wasn’t I? Yes. So either Today Tonight or A Current Affair, or maybe even both of them (because even after frequent stories on supermarket price matching both current affair shows often have similar stories on same night. Like was planned or something) featured a story about big supermarkets treating mince meat with some kind of chemical that made meat appear redder than actually was.
Had proper butcher from old-fashioned butcher store give demonstration of what mince meat looks like in proper form. He was wearing white doctors coat, hairnet and hand rounded, friendly face so viewers would find him trustworthy (so said Ralph who also wears white coat and hair net but whose face is definitely not rounded by rather pointy. Perhaps he’s prejudiced against round-faced people). The expert butcher was not allowed to state the name of his shop but ‘they snuck it in,’ Ralph said. During wide-angled shots of the display cabinet. Ralph claims was a set-up because all customers were smiling and butchers behind counter (1) didn’t have any blood on their whites and (2) weren’t rolling eyes with impatience.
Because of story Ralph had been called out (‘seven!’) times so far to speak with customers (usually elderly) demanding to know whether meat included this additive.
‘Of course it bloody does,’ Ralph told all of us, when asked point blank. ‘No one wants to buy brown mince. Want it bright red, don’t they? Doesn’t happen naturally. Wouldn’t buy the stuff if was brown. Asked each and every one of those customers and they all said no. Doesn’t mean meat is off. Doesn’t mean will kill ’em. Not in small doses, anyways. Just looks prettier, dunnit?’
Think that Ralph’s annoyance is more to do with his increased people-contact. Ten thirty and seven customers already. Usually if customer requires specific cut of meat or what have you he can simply grunt and nod his way through transaction. Today was actually forced into conversation.
Given am not working and have no interests, really, told Paddy would help him out at his work. Paddy is a carpenter. Most of it boring joinery work but Paddy talented man. Carves wood beautifully. Most precious thing I own in the world is a wooden box carved out by Paddy, top of which inlaid with ornate roses. Paddy very good with furniture. One of a kind table and chairs and such like. Have tried to convince him over the years that he should have furniture store. Could sell pieces for thousands. Paddy scared, though. Not willing to take that step. Understand completely but shits me to tears, really. Have no talent myself so am envious and feel is bit of a waste to do nothing with it.
Should have asked Paddy where he was working before tagging along. Rookie mistake, really. Pulled up ute to church. Catholic church.
‘Yes, Jesus Christ. Now don’t blaspheme when we’re in there, for Pete’s sake.’
‘Will burn if walk in there, Paddy,’ I told him. Had already begun to break out in sweats. ‘Not so good when you’re working with wood.’
‘Don’t be childish.’ Paddy already out of cab. Walking toward front doors. Had keys!
‘They give you keys?’ I yell out at him.
‘Of course they’ve given me keys. Have to do work, don’t I?’ Paddy coming back to start unloading shirting boards from ute.
Cripes alive. Am only atheist in entire family of devout Irish Catholics. Mum and Dad very devout which is why they and my other brothers don’t speak to me. This religious organisation and its fear and its rules is what fractured my life and family. Paddy devout, yes. Goes to mass every Sunday. Yet Paddy open-minded man and has the very strong belief that God is above all laws and restrictions of any religious organisation. Believes that God would and has forgiven me. That God understands. That I shouldn’t shut him out simply because a large majority of the church believe me to be wrong. But cannot accept that. Cannot have belief in something that has allowed such misery in my life. Paddy says it’s a test. I say a loving God would not test his faithful. Paddy and I agree to disagree on this subject. His faith has grounded him and helps him. He doesn’t have a go at me for turning my back on God. If I think about it, I guess Paddy acts in the way that Jesus did. Forgiving and loving to all. Trouble is, most of God’s people are unforgiving, judgmental and generally vicious. In other words; hateful. Is unbelievable paradox, no?
When Paddy and I walk through Church doors carrying long planks of wood – skirting boards – I didn’t immediately combust. Paddy made me stop while he crossed himself with holy water.
‘Are you going to do that every time we walk in?’ I asked. Would be a long day if that is the case.
‘No, you eejit,’ Paddy said. Being of Irish parentage we have always pronounced idiot the Irish way – eejit. Still. Is idiot or its Irish translation something you’re allowed to say inside a church?
Once we unloaded all the skirting boards we brought in Paddy’s tools. I was to help by handing him things. Like nurse and doctor in surgery. Instead of scalpel (‘scalpel’) it was hammer (‘hammer’) and such like.
‘Should this not be blessed or some shit before pulling it in?’ I wondered. Catholics like to bless everything. New homes when you move in, new cars, new babies.
‘Father Michael already did it back at the workshop,’ Paddy said.
‘Who the heck’s Father Michael? Thought priest here was Father Boog or some shit.’
Paddy shook his head. ‘I told you we’ve a new priest, Den. You never listen. He’s a nice bloke, too. You’d like him.’
Hate when people like that. You’ll like him, you’ll like her, when I’ve never even met them. Told Paddy so. ‘And besides,’ I continued, ‘you can’t judge a bloke you’ve only seen up on the pulpit.’
Paddy’s eye-rolling almost caused him to lose a thumb – not watching where his hammer was going. ‘See him outside of Church, Denni.’
‘Drinks at pub.’
‘He allowed to go to pub them?’
‘Cripes, Den. He’s Catholic, not Muslim. Yes, he goes to pub. And we play golf together. But he’s too good. Am going to have to stop playing with him. Was thinking, actually, that we should have him ’round for dinner.’
‘We will not.’ Was outraged.
‘He’s a bloke.’
‘He’s a priest. Am not having sold old dribbling man sitting in my house-‘
‘All right, your house, our home, telling me how to live my life-‘
‘He’d never do that.’
‘He would. Is his job as a priest to tell others how to live their life.’
‘Well Michael wouldn’t. And he’s not old and dribbling. Not that it matters.’
No use trying to argue with Paddy when he’s angry, and could see the anger starting to creep in. Ears go red. Nothing else, just the ears. Lucky bastard. With me is whole face.
Quite uneasy being in the church. Jesus eyes. Watching me everywhere. Judging me. Swear they move, really. Weird being back in a church, mind. Yes, brought back memories, and yes, some of them were quite nice. Scent of incense took me back to childhood, particularly Christmas and midnight mass. Only time of the year we’d be allowed to stay up so late. We’d all squeeze into the church, for once there’d be no arguments as Mum and Dad never dared to whilst in God’s house. Afterwards we’d drive home, past all the houses with their Christmas lights still on, and Paddy and I’d be searching the skies for Santa. Good memories. Nice memories. The whole of childhood should be like that, really. Not just one day a year.
Paddy had finished one side of the church when heard door open and close in vestibule. Heard voice call out, ‘Have brought you beer, Paddy. Thought you’d be thirsty.’
Cripes alive. Was priest. Father Michael. Paddy all; oh good, you can meet him. I all; fuck, no, bye, bye. Did not want situation where was standing face to face with priest in church with him wondering why had never been to church. Far too uncomfortable. Ran. Yes, ran. Is running in church sacrilegious? Just another sin, I guess.
Not to know. Anyhow, got right bollocking from Paddy when he got home.
Cripes Alive. Always comes a time when you find out something about bloke you fancy that suddenly makes him seem less fanciable. Happened today with Bright Eyes. Knew he was too good to be true, men that good looking have to have something wrong. Was happy to settle with bad fashion sense and perhaps even boring personality when it came to Bright Eyes. Like Kimi Raikkonen. Handsome man, Kimi, but when he starts talking in post-race interviews you just want to shoot yourself to stop hearing his dreary monotone voice.
Shame, really. About Bright Eyes, not Kimi, but shame about him, too. Shame about Bright Eyes because before his revelation there’d been this desire-ridden moment where he’d touched me and had been close enough for me to smell him and everything about him had been utterly delicious.
Slow day; stock return. Mondays always slow days and thus hardly any staff on grocery. Returning can of peas which of course had to be on top shelf. Cannot reach top shelf and couldn’t be arsed going to grab the step. So stood on bottom shelf and half on bottom shelf and half climbed my way up to place peas back when voice very close behind said, ‘here, let me,’ and hand was placed on back, peas taken from grasp and put onto shelf that was having trouble reaching anyhow.
Slowly stepped backward, hand still on back and kind of guiding me downwards. On flat ground spun around to see blue (green?) eyes of Bright Eyes looming down at me. Cripes – so gorgeous. Noticed different things. That lips quite full. That nose is perfectly triangular. That ears jut out just a little bit but what the hell does that matter?
Barely managed, ‘thank you.’
‘You’re welcome,’ was his reply. Then said, ‘you not on checkout today?’
Hope against hope, think he may have been disappointed by this. ‘Oh no, am. Just returning some items.’
Hope against hope, he smiled at this. He said, actually said, ‘missed you last week. On leave? Was served by rather slow girl-‘
‘Slow Sarah. I apologise. Girl needs a cattle prod up her arse.’
He raised eyebrows at this. So said, ‘ah, country term. You’re from the city, yes? Cattle prod would speed her up because-‘
‘Oh, I get the picture.’
Felt like comedian losing his audience. Asked if he was done with his shop, would take him through myself. Bright Eyes just needed some baked beans and then we were on way.
Not sure why, but felt much better, much more comfortable when there was a checkout between us. Like was in control. Wasn’t. Bright Eyes so dazzling.
‘Found out on the weekend you’re Paddy’s sister.’
Comment both pleased and terrified me. Pleased because it meant that Bright Eyes was talking about me outside of the supermarket. Very pleasing. Terrified because he knew Paddy. Knew how? Paddy lovely, lovely man. Lovely brother. But sometimes Paddy has problems. Sometimes Paddy not so lovely. Didn’t know which Paddy Bight Eyes knew. The lovely or not so lovely? If the latter than may very well be judged by association. Not good.
‘Not hard to tell,’ I said. ‘Look very similar, Paddy and me.’
‘Not that similar. You’re far more attractive. But don’t tell Paddy I said that.’ Smile.
Wanted. To. Die. Settled for, ‘ha, ha, ha, ha.’
Then the most terrible news. ‘Tells me you helped out a bit with his work at the church.’
Oh, crap. Utter crap. So that’s how Bright Eyes knew Paddy. At other world I have no part in. Paddy’s other life. Bright Eyes was a fecking Catholic. ‘You know Paddy from church?’ Please don’t let it be so, please don’t let it be so.
‘Yeah, of course, but-‘
Not interested. No longer interested. ‘That’ll be fifteen dollars seventy five.’
Bright Eyes taken back with abrupt end of conversation. Dam it all, was so close, too. He said I was attractive, did he not? Actually said I was more attractive than Paddy. But Paddy attractive man, which must mean that am not complete minger. Bet Bright Eyes thought, being Paddy’s sister, obviously Catholic myself; these things often go in families. Bright Eyes thought he’d found himself a good Catholic Girl. How wrong he could be! No Catholic would want to touch the likes of me with a ten-foot staff, or sceptre or whatever the hell it is the priest carries into mass with him.
Bright Eyes suddenly not so bright. Eyes too blue, if you know what I mean. Too good looking. Yes, is possible. Like Miranda Kerr. Look at her long enough and you realise she’s a little odd-looking. Eyes too far apart. Dimples too deep. Mouth too large.
In a perfect world Bright Eyes wouldn’t be Catholic and I’d have rampant sweat-enducing sex with him before discovering something that made him unattractive. Thing I’ve learnt, though. World very much not perfect place.
Driving along and saw tall man walking along side of road. Bright Eyes. Not in normal dress. Jeans and hoodie. Still incredibly gorgeous. Have decided – can’t hurt to perve, right? Know deep down nothing would happened anyhow so Catholicness null and void. Bright Eyes good looking older man. I, average-looking checkout chick. Was never going to be