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The vegetable shop was empty.
Well, almost empty. I could see one lady at the checkout counter getting the vegetables in her plastic basket weighed. My heart skipped a few beats and suddenly, there was an extra spring in my step.
The tiny shop inside our condominium is packed like a can of sardines on most days. Residents, domestic help, nannies, chauffeurs – all of them jostling each other as they eye, poke and pick at the assortment of fruits and vegetables that the truck drops inside the building every morning. It’s a battlefield and one is lucky to get out of there on a busy morning, unscathed.
I hate vegetable shopping. Actually, I hate shopping. Period. I hate walking down aisles looking for things that are either too high up on shelves or not there at all. I hate banging into errant carts and trolleys on the way. I hate waiting at the counter behind people. Hate, hate, hate. You get the drift.
So you will understand the adrenaline rush I felt when I realized that I wouldn’t have to wait. The woman looked as though she was almost done. I couldn’t help but congratulate myself on my superb timing. I hastily threw a few things inside my basket and took my place politely behind her. The young fellow at the counter was holding out the bill.
The woman reached inside her bag for the money and then paused for a heart-stopping moment before reaching behind me to pull out a huge cabbage, narrowly missing my skull in the process.
“How much is the cabbage for?”
Her shopping was not done evidently. The boy sighed and proceeded to weigh cabbage.
“And spinach? Oh, and how much are you selling the apples for?”
For the next fifteen minutes or so, she kept adding things to her basket. The old bill was discarded and the boy went back to weighing.
What on earth was she stocking up for? The Apocalypse? Her basket was overflowing!
My temper had started to flare and my eyelids were twitching like Herbert Lom. Now I’ve been working really hard to keep my anger issues in check but this woman at the shop was not helping. Why on earth had she come to the counter without finishing her shopping? I see people doing this all the time in shops and malls and it is really bad etiquette. One of the reasons I hate going out in the first place. The app keeps my blood pressure in check.
I mustered all the self-control I could manage so that I didn’t whack her with my shopping basket. I turned purple with the effort.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, Apocalypse Aunty had finished and I saw her yelling for someone to help her lug her shopping. I heaved a sigh of relief and handed my basket to the chap. Just as he was about to weigh the potatoes, woman comes back and shoves a bundle of coriander leaves under my nose.
“You didn’t add this,” she told the boy accusingly. “You should have given this to me for free.”
The boy shook his head. “I can’t give you that much for free, you’ve taken too much already.” I could tell from his face that he was exhausted.
She gave him a dirty look. “This is not done,” she grumbled. “Well, how much is this much for?”
He mumbled the amount.
And then she had the gall to ask me. “Are you done with your shopping?”
I would have vaporized her on the spot with my glare.
She threw a five rupee coin on the counter, dumped the coriander in her bag, ordered her coolie to lift it, held up a floral umbrella and walked off, waddling her butt in the process. A butt I really wanted to kick.
Well I never!