Tag Archives: Fiction

helping out paddy

Here’s the next instalment so far. Click on the link above to read the story so far

 

Checkout Chick is about to get interesting… be sure to follow the Giorge Thomas blog to be notified when it’s updated.

 

 

(25)

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.

‘Christ, Paddy.’

‘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.’

‘Really? Where?’

‘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-‘

‘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.

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fully-sick subwoofer

This is the next instalment of Checkout Chick. For the full story so far, click on the Checkout Chick link in the menu.

 

(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.

 

(14)

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.

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new Checkout Chick here!

Here’s the next instalment of Checkout Chick. It can be read from the beginning by clicking on the Checkout Chick link in the menu.

 

 

 

 

(9) SMOKO

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.

 

 

(10)

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.

 

 

(11)

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.

 

 

(12)

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.

 

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Here’s the next instalment of Checkout Chick. It can be read from the beginning by clicking on the Checkout Chick link in the menu.

 

(7)

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.

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checkout chick update…

*** here we continue Denni’s blog on being a checkout chick. For the full story so far click here or the checkout chick link in the menu

 

(4) PACKING

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.

 

*** Next in CHECKOUT CHICK – Denni shares the sad tale of a shopper whose just lost his wife, and we learn of her latest checkout crush

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