But then I noticed the lady at the other till. I use the word “lady” in a somewhat loose sense. Tasha Slappas mother is a looker by comparison. Anyway, she was engaged in a dialogue with the post-person behind the counter:
Lady: It’ll fit in the mailbox.
Counter-Lady: Er. I’m sorry? What will.
Lady: The parcel I’m here to post.
Counter-Lady: Your parcel. Can I see it please?
Lady: Yeah. I want £10.
Counter-Lady: I’m sorry? Er. You have to pay us to post the parcel.
Lady: Nah. Nah. I want £10. From the Giro.
Counter-Lady: Oh. Can you put your card in the machine please.
Lady: Oh right. Hate these machines. [cackles]
She then extracted her card and started stabbing at the machine with it. I was cringing as she flailed about with the card scraping on the edges and bending precariously.
Lady: These are tricky buggers aren’t they?
She then took out a rather ratty tissue and rubbed crazily along the card. She then started stabbing at the machine, completely missing the area where the slot was.
Counter-Lady: [looking stunned] No. No. Stop. You have to put the card in the slot!
Lady: Yeah I now that luv.
After a bit more stabbing the card went into the slot. And then... With the flat of her palm she whacked the end so hard that the machine bent backwards, the card actually snapped and a shard went pinging off into a corner of the office. Now normally those cards are pretty tough. They don’t normally snap. So I wondered how often she had bashed the life out of that poor card for it to get plastic fatigue.
Lady: Oh f**k. It’s broken my card again.
Again? It? I stifled a snort of laughter. Again???
Lady: Bugger. I’ll have to go to the bank again to get a new one. [cackles]
Lady: Bloody cards and machines. They’re bloody useless. Always breaking.
Counter-Lady: Well, you don’t need to use force with the cards.
Lady: Yeah luv, but these machines keep breaking me cards.
Oh the sheer wonderful logic of that statement. I stifled another snort.
Counter-Lady: Ok. Ok. Just leave it. Do you have your savings book?
Lady: Eh what?
Counter-Lady: Your savings book. You can use that.
Lady: Oh right luv.
She then rummaged around in her bag and produced a matted mess of paper with sticky tape holding it together. Oh lordy I thought. She pushed it through to the counter lady who processed it and passed the revolting mess plus a £10 note back to the lady.
Lady: Now. Me parcel. Can’t forget me parcel can I. [cackles]
The counter lady processed the postage, took the £10 note back and returned change. She then pushed those little sticky postage stamp things back through. Tashas mum took it and stuck it to one finger and started moving the parcel, her bag, her paper mess and the sticky thing from hand to hand until in a fit of intelligence realised that she couldn’t juggle that many objects with only two hands. So she pushed the lot to one side, stood aside and:
Lady: Oh what a muddle eh? That’s why I got buckles see.
Counter-Lady: I’m sorry?
Lady: On me shoes. Get muddled with laces and that. [loud laughter]
Counter-Lady: Oh yes.
And then the worst thing in the world happened. She turned to me as I was now in the front of the line and said:
Lady: Oh ‘ere luv. You better come on and do yours!
Me: Oh. Ta.
As I was dealing with counter lady and my parcel...
Lady: ‘Ere. Don’t use that machine right? It f**ks your cards. I gotta go to the bank again. I told ‘em. I told ‘em I did. I said you gotta make better machines and cards ‘cos they keep breaking. I’m not putting money into your bank so you can make these stupid things I said. I told ‘em I did. [shakes head and cackles] Not like the old days eh? I said not like the old days eh? ‘Course you wouldn’t know would you luv? You’re a young-un eh? Got a bike have you?
I didn’t know whether to be gratified that she thought I looked young, but then I realised that she would only be in her 40’s. I was at least a decade older than her. Hunched off, muttering, cackling to herself. So sad. Anyway, I had just finished my transaction and was desperately seeking an escape route when:
Me: Sorry? What?
Lady: You got a bike? I got a bike. Tied up outside. At least it was when I came in. [more cackling] Dunno these days do you luv? Could be nicked.
I beat a hasty retreat thinking that if she couldn’t tie shoe laces how she could have tied up a bike? After popping across the road to Sainsburys I came back past the post office and she was cackling and muttering and swearing as she struggled with about the at least 20 feet of rope she’d used to tie her bike to a lamp post with. The rope was gordian in size and complexity. She’ll be there for hours undoing it. And don’t get all huffy with me for not helping. The way she was waving that rope violently around and swearing and carrying on, I’d have been risking life and limb coming within 10 feet.
Funny thing people eh?