There was a woman in Ealing Sainsbury’s Local yesterday. She was pushing her shopping trolley around, and asking, “Is this the bread?”
I laughed. There’s nothing funnier than a woman walking past some Dolmio, squinting suspiciously, and asking “Is this the bread?”
What made it even funnier – to my mind – was the utterly unfriendly way she was barking it at no-one in particular. She didn’t look like she wanted an answer, she seemed perfectly self-contained and willing to walk up and down the two small aisles forever.
Then she changed her tactic. “Excuse me, I can’t see. Can you tell me where the bread is?”
Well, that explained something. She wasn’t insane, just a grumpy blind.
I followed her briefly, hiding behind things and being as stealthy as you have to be, when you’re following blind people. She found the bread, and woofed “Is that the bread?”
The man standing between me and the fierce woman looked awkward, and said “yes, it’s just there”.
“Where?” she demanded, her gracelessness intact. “I can’t see. Is it Kingsmill?”
This was Sunday evening in an understocked Sainsbury’s Local. There was only one loaf of bread left, on the centre of the shelf. It was, to the man’s relief, a Kingsmill, and he told her so.
The woman lunged at it, and squeezed it into her face. The man and myself stared at her – my mouth had opened by one finger – and she threw the loaf down and said “That’s Kingsmill GOLD. I don’t want Kingsmill GOLD. Is there any down there?” She gestured at the area around me.
I walked off. If you’re going to rely on the kindness of strangers, don’t expect people you treat like mere tools to happily tell you whether that is a packet of six bagels or a loaf of Kingsmill. I skipped around the shop, happy with my observations, to find my companion, who – lacking a compulsive interest in watching cuntish behaviour – was actually shopping. I quietly said things like “rude bitch”, hoping that her hearing had been enhanced by the blindness. I am a grown-up.
Here she is, in a blurry picture that is probably what bread looks like to her –
The rest of our shop was punctuated by an arrogant but helpless voice. No-one was helping her; she’d only got lucky with the bread man because I was blocking his escape route. When we got to the checkout, she was still walking around the shop with her combination shopping trolley / laptop bag. She had nothing in her basket – and fuck knows how long she had been there before we arrived – and she was shouting to the air in front of her.
“Where is the manager of this shift?”
After ignoring her for as long as possible, and acknowledging the growing sense amongst the customers that someone should say something, one of the staff said “he’s by the spirits and wines”. So she carried on walking around, now shouting “where are the spirits and wines?” This didn’t help her cause at all, as she now just looked like a mad, rude alcoholic.
It was vaguely and shamingly satisfying to see someone getting absolutely nowhere by being rude.
The puddle of goodness in me wanted to feel pity for her. It wanted to look past her attitude, and see the circumstances that had made her who she was. But I couldn’t. It would have taken something special to feel anything human towards this aisle-roaming Dalek of a woman. I wanted her to collapse. I wanted her to shrink into a pitiful, helpless wreck. I wanted to hear her sobbing “it’s difficult… for me… especially since Henry died… I don’t mean to be rude, it’s just how it… comes out…” In short, I wanted her to stop being a cunt and start being human, so that I could stop feeling like it was my civic duty to push her over and run off.
But we’d bought flapjacks, and I was quite hungry, so I left her to it.