I was at the supermarket, standing in the queue at the meat section waiting to be served. It was not a queue, just a line of people, all mixed in age and type. The young lady with the screaming kid that would not be satisfied unless the saleslady offered him a piece of sliced sausage was the first to be served.
“Mum I want a sausage.”
“Wait, I have to concentrate. 100 grammes salami please.”
“Yes, no problem, and I suppose you would like a piece of sausage” said the shop assistant.
“Johnny stop screaming, otherwise the lady won’t give you any sausage. I’m sorry, he seems to have one of those days today.”
“No problem, here you go Johnny, a nice piece of sausage.”
“Johnny, say thankyou and don’t snatch it out of the nice lady’s hand. Sorry.”
“That’s OK, we all have our days.”
I felt sorry for the mother, she now had a red face full of embarrasement, Johnny was munching his sausage with a smirk on his face and the saleslady moved on to the next customer. At last it was my turn, I thought. I opened my mouth to give my order and was interrupted from am elderly woman standing next to me. She was probably my age, but some ladies like to accentuate their wisdom and age with very firm expressions.
“Excuse me, but it is now my turn. I was here before you.”
She was talking to me, and I had not yet said anything.
I muttered “Sorry”, but this did not seem to be enough. The elderly lady, my age, glared at me through her glasses. “I was here first, and I have been waiting for a long while for that kid to get his sausage.”
I was speechless and decided silence was the best solution. The saleslady, who knew me, as I was a customer at least 3-4 times a week, looked at me with an apologetic smile and served the elderly lady who was my age. Sometimes these ladies look older than they are, being certain that everyone is against them, a threat to their status in life. The furrows of anger and determination always leave their mark on the face.
The assistant spoke “I don’t know who was here first.”
“I was of course” said the ederly lady now assuming a threatening pose. I thought she might mow me over with her shopping cart, she made a threatening move with it and stood more upright then she already was.
I decided to speak “that’s OK” directing my words to the sales lady, “I can wait.”
I noticed a glare from the elderly lady, who was still sharpening her words with mouth movements. I then tried the last resort and choked out “sorry”.
“I should think so” said elderly lady. By then the saleslady had finished preparing her order and had wrapped it and finalised the sale. The elderly lady snatched it from her and threw it into her sales wagon, pushing me out of the way as she left. The sales assistant looked at me carefully, hoping I would not explode.
“I think you were here first, but I am not sure.”
“It makes no difference, the customer is now satisfied, that is the main thing.”
“I have been waiting at least 5 minutes” said a man in a suit and tie standing next to me at the counter. I have an important meeting to attend, and have not the time waiting to be served. There was a deathly silence and the saleslady looked at me with pleading eyes.
“3 pork chops please” I said.”
Business man glared at his watch and began to make nervous movements. Men have no patience, I wished he was a Mr. Swiss type of person that would melt into the crowd and respect golden oldies like me. This suited tie wearer would not even have melted in a vat of acid, he was a tough one.
He was about to say something more, but I made a decision. I had suffered the agony of watching a starving child screaming for sausage, been insulted and humiliated by an elderly lady who thought she was the best customer in the supermarket, although she only bought cheap meat, and now the director decided to treat me as one of his employees. I said in a loud clear voice
“Sorry, but it is my turn now.”
The saleslady gave me my pork chops with a smile on her face and as I left I just happened to tread on the businessman’s polished shoe and dug my elbow in his back pushing him into the glass plate separating the meat from the humans. Of course I said “Sorry”. My mum said you should always say sorry and apologise if you have done something wrong.
Discovery Challenge: Apologise