Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Don't do anything I might find out about...
"Look at this. 'Humon Resources'. I ask you. 'Humon'! How do they expect to get a job when they can't even address an envelope without making a spelling mistake?" So started a rather surreal conversation in Sainsbury's this morning. A rather cute in-a-military-kind-of-way security guard had been watching me since I first walked in on my way to work. He had waited for me to queue up with my chicken hickory Be Good To Yourself instant meal and then without warning just started talking at me. The envelope in his hand was apparently from a recent job applicant. Quite why he had it or indeed felt the need to show it to me was as yet a mystery.

"You take my sister. I got an e-mail from her yesterday. And you know what? It had sixteen spelling mistakes in it. She spelt wool W-U-L." I eyed him slowly. He was dressed in the typical gold trimmed brown trousers and jacket that is often the standard apparel of supermarket security personnel. His highly polished black shoes and crisply ironed shirt gave him the appearance of a door-to-door Mormon or a fresh young accountant bright-eyed ready for their first job interview. I smiled and nodded thinking that maybe he would leave it at that. Making no eye contact I shuffled forward one place in the queue that now seemed to have slowed to a snail's pace. I looked straight ahead and mused. Maybe he'd been driven mad by the inanity of his job? Perhaps banging on to complete strangers somehow was keeping him in touch with reality, I thought. Then he surprised me by talking almost directly in my ear.

"Did you have the strap and the cane at school?” he said. My eyes looked around nervously wondering whether I was part of some elaborate prank. No one else seemed to be looking at me or smiling in my direction so I just thought it was me who was overreacting. Maybe he was hitting on me and I'd got the signals wrong from the start? I turned and smiled. I'd chance it and with a nod said, "Yes." Big mistake. Huge.

Without pausing for breath, permission or further response he held me up, and the rest of the queue, with such wistful pronouncements as, "We had assembly every morning at school, didn't we?” and “We had to say the Lord's Prayer and behave while we said it, didn't we?” Not only was I getting late for work but also beginning to feel slightly uneasy. Why was this man talking to me? Didn’t he need any feedback when he spoke? I studied him for a while. He had steely blue eyes and almost perfect tanned skin. His short-cropped dark hair was slightly greying at the sides. His lips where slight but betrayed a permanent smirk. Still he was banging on, “We had to dress smart and look smart. They don't do that anymore, do they?"

Saved at last by Mohammed on check out number three I finally managed to turn away from my rabid talker and to quickly pay for my food, stuff it in a thin plastic bag and make for the door. Just as I was about to secure my escape he called after me, "Don't do anything I might find out about!”

Quite surreal.

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