Urban tales I: the accidental housewife

15/03/2009

On Thursday, we had a babysitter mind our munchkin as we went out for some good food in some good company.

This, of course, required some strategizing, as it was the first time, and we had no idea what the young damsel would require in the area of sustenance. What do you feed hungry teens? Since we only knew the young lady by referral, I headed to the supermarket to stock up on some treats.

To understand what comes next, you need to know that our supermarket has a closed car park with a barrier to prevent neighbours from using it.

As I stood at the checkout and watched Goth Girl scan our salty and sweet treats, a young boy walked up to the cashier, asking her to validate a parking ticket for exiting the car park. The kid must have been eleven at the most and looked decidedly nervous. From where I was standing, I could see a queue forming in the parking lot and I watched as he ran back out to their silver car.

Only a few minutes later, as I was paying, his mother sailed in. Think Marcia Gay Harden in Season II of Damages. She was wearing exquisite brown leather shoes and her autumn coloured outfit offset her auburn hair. Her mood was equally stormy. Now, I too have been in the position where the ticket has been validated but the barrier won't open. But this lady was having none of that. Her temper was frayed and it was showing. She proceeded to berate the cashier, who answered back in a surly manner. She looked exactly like dear Carol below, minus the glasses, but with the usual piercings.



Meanwhile, I was stuck in the middle of this, with the munchkin in the supermarket cart all agog, mouth and eyes wide open. Now, ordinarily, I would have intervened and tried to mediate. But with a four-year old in tow, suddenly your whole outlook changes. All you want is for this situation to go away. And to be honest, I had visions of 'Falling Down' (remember Michael Douglas going ballistic as the frustrated angry customer...?).

So I pretended to notice nothing, schlepped all our shopping in the cart on the protesting munchkin, and wheeled past meltdown momma. As I rounded the corner, I noticed that Goth Girl left her register and stomped off towards the management cubicle.

Nothing could have prepared me for what followed in the car park, as I was loading our shopping into the car and getting ready to leave.

The woman, having had her ticket validated for the fourth time apparently, dashed back to her car as people honked impatiently. She then tried to align her car with the terminal to insert the ticket, and given her frazzled nerves, somehow managed to get too close. The tell tale screech of metal on metal was heard. And right there and then, the impending meltdown happened. For as she tried to move her car away, she just kept on scraping it into the terminal. Finally, she reversed the car, got out, and just lost it. She was in floods, screamed something as she looked up at the sky and then walked up to the car behind her. The man in it for a second must have hesitated whether he wanted to roll down his window or not, but to his credit, he did. She then proceeded to ask him for help to move her car, as she was clearly incapable of driving it by that time. The kids inside looked petrified. It was also raining quite heavily, adding to the general discomfiture.

I looked on aghast. The munchkin was silent in the backseat. Then she stated very simply: "That lady is crying".

And I quietly found myself wondering what had happened to this poor woman during the day to generate such a response to such a futility, putting us all momentarily in the eye of the storm.

7 messages:

Vikki said...

It really does make you wonder what else had gone wrong.

I've had those moments but, thankfully, never in a public place.

deboo said...

Horrifying for all involved. I really feel for that woman. Not only is she melting down, but now she must tell her Significant Other what happened.

At least she has very nice shoes.

Chris said...

Girl, you know how to write a good story!

Lula de Montes said...

@vikki: haven't we all.
@deboo: yes, the shoes were really good. Glossy saddle-leather, which encased her foot. Instant shoe envy on my behalf.
@Chris: it just unfolded before me.

Fresco said...

Prologue: This woman, let's call her Genevieve, finds out that Oil of Olay was taken off the shelves, there was no gin either, Gothic Girl twice scanned the Perrier sixpack (she hates bourgeois people), then the bankcard was refused because her husband cleared the account (he left her for someone younger) and there were insufficient funds, Gothic Girl loudly made this clear so all other customers could hear this, but that wasn't the last embarrassment for Genevieve: on her way out, her children were caught by the store detective with sweets in their pockets.

So yes, the car park situation must have been the last straw for Genevieve...

Chris said...

Appendix : and when Genevieve got home, it occurs to her that Gotic Girl didn't even scan her fidelity points. Splendid!

Lula de Montes said...

@Fresco and Chris: I dare you to write a sequel to this as a guest post.LOL

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