One of those days
Yesterday was one of those days. It started off well enough with a bit of car shopping, which is actually fun in Northern Ireland. When you walk onto the car lot you’re not inundated with salespeople. Dad and I had trouble actually finding anyone to talk to. When we eventually did it turned out to be a man he knows, whose aunt used to live next door to Dad.
So that went well enough… I’m thinking about the adorable wee Ford Ka Studio in Metallic Denim Blue I test drove. It just makes sense to buy a small, used car instead of racking up £120+ per week for a hired car. Even with road tax and insurance it still works out better.
So we got back at about 5pm. It was so late I turned into the local village shop on the way through to pick up some Cream of Mushroom soup to use as a sauce for the chicken later. Once again I forgot to bring one of my twenty plastic shopping bags, purchased from Tesco at 10 pence each. They’ve introduced a law here that stores can no longer provide plastic grocery bags free. You can buy a variety of reusable ones. Dad has a couple of big canvas bags, and I’ve already bought the said twenty plastic ones (because I keep forgetting to bring the bloody things with me.)
I picked up a few bits and pieces in the shop and when I went to pay, remembered about the bags.
“D’you want a wee bag, there?” asked the clerk.
I was damned if I was going to buy yet another one! So I said, “No, you’re all right, thanks.”
“Sure you can manage?” she asked.
“Oh, yes, I assured her. The car’s just outside.”
She gave me my change and into my arms I gathered the can of soup, half liter plastic jug of milk, and bunch of bananas and tub of refrigerated custard that Dad had requested.
Two steps outside the shop doors the milk slipped from my grasp. It more or less bounced on the cement, and fortunately didn’t break. I bent down to retrieve it and the can of soup tumbled to the ground with a ‘clunk’. I hunkered down as the can rolled away, ever so slowly. I took hold of the milk and sort of crab walked after the can. Unfortunately, the slope was steeper than I realized, and the can got some momentum going and rolled out of reach. “God’s sake,” I said as I scuttled after it. Then the bastard rolled right off the slab of cement outside the shop and disappeared into a rain-filled ditch. “Damn it!”
Outside the shop are a couple of petrol pumps, and both had vehicles at them. With not much else to look at, both drivers were avidly watching me with obvious curiosity and amusement. I straightened up, mustered as much dignity as I could and returned to the shop to buy another can of soup. Another clerk had come on duty. He tried to charge me for the bananas, custard and milk again. I managed to convince him that I’d already paid, although I could see he still wasn’t a hundred percent certain.
Back out of the doors I walked carefully, gripping my purchases tightly. I was almost to the car before I felt the tub of custard slipping. I tightened my arm against my chest, where I had it trapped. But doing that only served to increase the pressure, and the bloody thing pretty much shot out of my arms in an arc and splattered onto the cement. Yellow liquid with the consistency of mercury adorned the ground, looking a lot like an arterial spray. I could taste sugary stuff on my lip and licked it off. Looking down I saw that the custard had exploded over my arms and chest as it shot into orbit.
The drivers had both finished filling their gas tanks, but neither appeared in any hurry to leave. Several cars had pulled in and were waiting their turn for the pumps. I realized all eyes were on me.
Self-consciously I used my foot to push the empty custard tub toward the trash can by the shop and bent to pick it up so I could throw it away. The slick custard on my fingers made me lose my grip on the bananas, and they slid down and into the trash can. Losing my temper completely, I slammed the can of soup and milk after them.
I stormed back to the car and pulled open the driver’s side door. Dad looked at me like I’d completely lost my mind. Which I pretty much had.
“We’re having stir fry chicken tonight,” I announced loftily and began to climb in. To my astonishment and acute embarrassment, the watching people broke into applause.
Flushing, I pulled my seat belt on and started the engine. The original clerk ran out of the shop with a sagging plastic grocery bag in her hands and waved me down. I opened the window and she handed me the bag. Inside was a half liter of milk, bunch of bananas, tub of custard, and can of Cream of Mushroom soup.
“Here, Ms. Shannon.” She shook with suppressed laughter. “We never know what you’re going to do, next.”
At a complete loss as to what to say, I thanked her and she turned away. I distinctly heard laughter as she went back into the shop.
My father wisely said nothing as I handed the bag to him.