I’ve always known that I’m what you could describe as the impatient type. When I walk anywhere, I walk fast; when I go shopping, I want to be in and out in a flash; when I pop into Starbucks and see a queue longer than three people, I’m outta there in a flash. Nobody needs coffee that much that you should have to wait approximately 8-10 minutes to get it *shudders at the thought*.
Slowness is my nemesis (even if it is arguably not actually a word… is it a word?!). Walking behind a casually ambling pedestrian is likely to cause steam to puff out of my ears, especially if they’re zig-zagging so I can’t even overtake. Argh! I once heard a rumour they were going to create a fast-lane for pedestrians on Oxford Street – wow, I am totally down for that, where do I sign?!
One of my absolute bugbears? Even more than slow wifi, slow talkers and slow walkers? – the slow shop assistant. I swear to god…
The other week I happened to find myself in a big Tesco superstore in Hounslow. The girls and I were on our way to Hounslow Urban Farm for a fun day out and I swung in to the supermarket to pick up some bits for a picnic lunch.
“We’ll just pop in and grab some foods for lunch quickly before we reach the farm” I announced to the girls, with optimism in my voice, truly believing that on a Wednesday morning around 10.30am that surely it was possible to dash in and out of a Tesco in Hounslow in under ten minutes.
What a fool I was.
It wasn’t that it was busy, nope – the aisles were fairly deserted in fact. It wasn’t that the children played up – nope, they were as good as gold sitting in the trolley as we whizzed around supermarket sweep stylee. Was there some sort of store-based siege? a person collapsed in the yoghurt aisle awaiting an ambulance and causing normal service to be interrupted? Nope and nope. So what was the root of the delay you ask…
A slow check-out lady.
It wasn’t that I was in a rush – it was my day off, we were on an outing to the farm but we weren’t meeting anyone, the pigs and cows were unlikely to be tapping their wrists asking “what time do you call this” as we pulled up to the gates. But that’s not really the point is it? I wanted to be in and out quickly and efficiently, is that too much to ask?
Apparently it is.
So I approach the check-outs and scan the scene before me. It is here I make my first mistake. I opt for a queue that has a mere one person standing in it – not one person behind the person being served, just one person. One person only, already being served, off and away, up and running, action stations.
I watch as the check-out lady continues to beep beep her way (slowly) through the woman’s shopping, not a care in the world, beep beep, la la la, beep beep.
I start to get a bit fidgety, I’ve already been there at least a minute and I’m beginning to suspect that there is no sense of urgency with either the customer or the check-out chick.
They are engaging in casual and idle chit-chat. I start to hop from one foot to the other and sigh loudly and repeatedly to express my annoyance. They ignore me.
A man joins the queue behind me, “don’t join this queue” – I exclaim loudly – “I’ve already lost 5 minutes of my life that I’m never going to get back!” He looks at me bemused and grimaces nervously. I fear he may be glad of the company.
She can’t have had more than 15-20 items on the conveyor belt thingy. HOW IS THIS TAKING SO GODDAMN LONG?!!!????!!!
I huff and puff a bit more.
“Are you happy mummy?” Allegra asks me from the comfort of the supermarket trolley, as Claudia hits her over the head with a pack of Dairylea Lunchables (don’t judge). “We’ll darling,” I say, “I’m a bit frustrated we’ve been standing in this queue for soooo long!” (approximately 7.5 minutes by this point).
I am ignored.
Then the customer pipes up with a question: “how much does that come to so far love?”
Check-out lady: “what?”
Customer: “what’s the total so far?”
Check-out lady: “the total you’ve spent? so far?”
Customer: “yeah, how much does it come to love?”
Check-out lady: “ummmm let’s see, oooh £14.53 so far…” – she pauses with the beeping.
Customer: “in which case, I think I’ll leave the Turbo DVD and the packet of chocolate buttons”
Check-out lady: “what’s that?!”
Customer: “the Turbo DVD and the chocolate buttons, I’ll leave those behind, I won’t get them today…” *points quite clearly at the items she no longer wants*
Check-out lady (looking confused at the remaining array of items she has yet to beep through the till), *looks up and smiles, picking up a handful of DVDs that were sitting on the conveyor belt* – “shall I just show you them one by one and you can tell me which ones you want and which ones you don’t?”
Kill. Me. Now.
“The Turbo one, the Turbo one, THE TURBO DVD!!!! She doesn’t want the Turbo DVD or the packet of chocolate buttons!!!” – I
yell say, pointing with emphasis at the rejected items.
The customer and the check-out girl look at me surprised with an air of “who rattled your cage?” about them. I get no show of solidarity from the man behind.
What?!? I am merely trying to be helpful! So I eyeball them back, I may even have had my hands in the “tragedy!” by Steps position.
“Oh dear god!” I exclaim as I reverse out of the queue with more under the breath / not quite under the breath frustrated muttering.
I go to the neighbouring check-out, should have done that sooner but clearly I’d invested too much time to leave by that point! My second mistake.
I declare my annoyance to the new check-out lady. She looks at me blankly and frankly non-plussed.
But I’m in and out of there in seconds and march with purpose past the other check-out, the lady still beeping, the customer still idly chattering.
I feel I have secured a small victory by being first to leave the store.
I realise that impatience is not exactly a virtue, but seriously… SERIOUSLY!!!
Impatient of Richmond.