Quote Of The Day

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

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Reissue: Don't do anything I might find out about...

"Look at this! 'Humon Resources'. I ask you. 'Humon'! How do they expect to get the job when they can't even address an envelope without making a basic spelling mistake?" So started a rather surreal conversation in Sainsbury's this morning on the way to work. A rather cute in-a-military-kind-of-way security guard had been watching me ever since I first walked in the sliding double doors. 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 to at me. An 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. I counted them. She spelt 'wool' W-U-L." I eyed him suspiciously. He was dressed in the typical gold trimmed brown trousers and jacket that is often the standard apparel of supermarket security personnel. He was quite muscular and had a chiselled jaw. 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 saying nothing - thinking that maybe he would leave it at that. Making no further eye contact I shuffled forward one place in the queue. A queue that now seemed to have slowed to a snail's pace. As I looked straight ahead I 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. Then he made me jump by whispering almost directly into my ear. I'd not noticed but he had moved closer. Much closer.

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

Without pausing for breath, permission or further responses from me he held up not only me, but the the rest of the queue, with a stream of 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 increasingly late for work but was 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?"

After what seemed like an eon I was saved at last by Mohammed on check out number three. "Next please!" I'd finally got an excuse to turn away from my rabid talker. With a single movement the food was scanned, money was in Mohammed's hand, I'd stuffed it into a thin plastic bag and was making for the door. I was free. I'd made my escape. Well, I thought I had. Just as I was heading out throught the doors he called after me, "Don't do anything I might find out about!”

Quite the most surreal trip to Sainsbury's I'd ever had.

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