This one looks like a right misery. I can always tell, usually as soon as they start loading up my conveyor. Banging down tins and chucking crisps on higgledy-piggledy. “You need some more sex, love.” Oh what I wouldn’t give to tell a few of them that, but they told me, Hazel, you can’t say that to the customers. Still true though, isn’t it.
You’d think that beep beep beep would give you a headache after a long shift but I quite like it. I sometimes think I can still hear it at home and I do have a chuckle. I said to my Bill, “Bill what’s that beeping sound, love?” but he couldn’t hear it and thought I was going barmy. Sometimes I go “beep” at him when I pass him his supper or a mug of tea or his newspaper, like I’m scanning it for him. “You’re barmy, Hazel Atkins,” he says as he heads out to The Blue Feather on Passmore Road.
She’s looking out of the window now, like she’s dreaming of somewhere far away. Her shopping doesn’t look like someone off on a trip – bread, cereal, sausage, ham, cheese, things with wings, low-calorie spread. No sign of any suntan stuff in there and the food looks like packed lunches for work or school. No rings though. Ooh, maybe her husband left her. No sex at all then, let alone get some more. Not like me and Bill, regular as you like every second Saturday afternoon, as long as United aren’t playing at home, when we miss a week.
“Good value, these sausages.” Even as I wave them at her she’s not listening, still looking out of the window. “My husband likes them with a nice dollop of red sauce.” A little smile. So there’s some signs of life in there. “I don’t buy sauces,” she says, the first thing she’s said to me since I started serving her. So is she a misery or a posh one or maybe just a bit sad? Yes, I think she’s unhappy. I can always tell.
That bang was loud enough to shake me out of my skin. And my lady does have something to look at outside now. I’m not really supposed to waste time gazing about when I have a queue forming, but all of the customers are gogging at it. So whose fault is that then? The car that was driving along or the one coming out of the space backwards? I expect it’s some of both maybe, but I never learnt to drive so I’m not an expert. “You’re not safe to be on the roads, Hazel love” my Bill told me and he takes me to our Janet’s and to the hairdresser, so I don’t need to drive anyway.
This one seems very keen on watching it going on out there. I mean, it’s not like none of us haven’t seen a crash before and there’s no blood or anything. “That’s a palaver, eh love?” and that gets her looking at me. “Yes, awful,” she says back, “I hope nobody is hurt.” And she’s quiet again, looking and watching.
“£26.40 please love,” I say to her and I’d have guessed her shopping was closer to £20. I can’t add it up in my head like Bill can but I can sometimes guess by the number of bags they use. And what they buy of course. One bag full of champagne would be more than say five bags of baked beans. Even as she’s counting her money out of her purse she’d looking outside. I wonder if she knows someone out there. Or maybe hoping to see someone. That could be it.
Now this one looks like an improvement, nice smile, setting the things in neat piles on my conveyor. “See that bump just then, love?” I ask him. “I can imagine what my Bill would say if I had to tell him I’d hit another car.” And he looks outside at the bumped about cars and I think he’s going to talk to me.