Today I realized the full extent of my distrust of supermarket store assistants to find me anything I wanted, or could possibly ever want.
It happens every time. I blab on about tampons or Turkish delight or baby corns, ‘you know, they look like little mielies, like little baby corn on the cob thingys’ (gesturing the love child of a box of matches and a minuscule party hat). The store assistant slumps in front of me, unmoving, hair net squashed lazily on their head. I see their impassive eyes glaze over. I don’t know what they’re thinking and a few options flit through my mind (…I want meat) but I fear it may really be Nothing.
Every time. Yet against my better judgment I ask anyway, interrupting her mid-tea-creamer-pack.
“Hi, sorry, do you know where the red food coloring is?”
Why am I sorry? It’s her job, right? Why ‘sorry’? Excuse me… Excuse me is better perhaps, yeah that works. Through this silent monologue I notice she’s twirled around a few times (left, right, left again) and is now gazing at a particular shelf with her fingertips to her lips.
Her name is ‘Delight.’
“Is it not here?” She opens her arms out and motions to the entire shelf.
No, I think, probably not in the curry powder section.
“Um, no. Sorry… food coloring.” Sorry again, what am I saying? “You know, for baking?” I gesture crushing a baby’s milk bottle, emptying it out onto the floor.
Her eyes flail desperately for an answer. “Um I don’t really know what you want…” Why have I put her through this?
“Baking… Maybe over here.” She scuttles off down the aisle and veers into the next one, like an eager hobbit. I lope behind, a bemused smile on my face. It’s like a game. What will I get? She’s trying, I’ll give her that.
It’s around this time that I spot the ‘Baking Aids’ sign three aisles down and so I try to flag her down. She’s raced off, the little bugger. I halfheartedly jog down the aisle. “Uh… Delight.” This stranger shop assistant’s name tastes funny in my mouth. “Deli-… Delight!” No confidence in this call. “I got it, never mind, I see it over there.”
“Oh you do?” Her surprised eyes gaze wide into my jaded ones.
“Yeah, sorry, thanks.” ‘Sorry’. Fuck.