I had picked up way more than one should at the small-ish corner shop; in all honesty I was too lazy to go to the supermarket. When I approached the till there was a long queue forming. It was a Friday afternoon, and a sunny one at that, two factors that bring shoppers flocking.
Teenagers buying ice cream on their way home from school, workers picking up beers and snacks for the park, other mums trying to shop for the weekend with kids in tow. And just as I got to the till, the second shop assistant announced it was 4pm and she was done for the weekend; hurrah!
As the line behind me continued to grow, I threw my heavy, overflowing basket onto the counter and saw the look of terror on the poor boy’s face. He was likely not yet 18, no doubt working his first job, in a uniform that he was positively drowning in. Despite his heart visibly sinking when he saw how much I was purchasing he smiled and, in a very well spoken accent that seemed out of place, welcomed me to the store.
“What a sweetheart,” I thought as I scrambled to get my – literal and metaphorical – shit together. Canvas shopping bags out of the buggy, wallet out of the nappy bag, credit card at the ready. Trying to pack as fast he was scanning, I sensed all eyes on me in the queue behind me, and thus did what I always do when I feel so – commonly – flustered; I drew attention to the fact THAT I’M TRYING TO SHOP WITH A ONE YEAR OLD AND IT’S NOT EASY so please cut me some slack, Mr Huffy Puffy standing behind me. And I began talking loudly, in baby language, to the baby.
“Oh Georgie,” I said, as I tried to work out how I was going to get all this shopping home. “Do we have enough bags, Georgie?” As I rummaged around the nappy bag I announced, quite loudly, “I should have brought more with me.”
“Well if you need anymore, that’s not a problem at all Madam,” said the nice check out boy. “You just let me know.”
What a sweetheart!
And as I tried to cram the third cartoon of juice into a bag I made another declaration. “Ahhh, Georgie, I don’t think this one is going to fit!”
“Well, Madam, how about trying to put it at the bottom of the buggy? There’s some space there.”
Utterly impressed by the helpfulness of the assistant and his willingness to engage in conversation with my mutterings, I did indeed place the heavy juice cartons in the buggy. Feeling sheepish and incompetent, I continued flapping and scrambling until everything was finally packed away.
Having almost achieved grocery procuring success, I made one final announcement to the baby as I realised that I couldn’t locate my previously identified credit card.
“Ah Georgie, now where’s my credit card?!”
“Madam, you had it just a minute ago, is it in your pocket?”
Why this boy, barely out of school, was such a gem! He really and truly understood the plight of the modern, knackered Mother. And he was right – I had indeed slipped the card into my back pocket whilst I was packing!
After what can only be described as a somewhat manic and highly stressful shopping experience, the silver lining had been this angel of a check out boy. As I picked up my bags and took my receipt I glanced at his name tag so that I could tell the shop manager what a star he was employing.
‘George’ it read.
I left very quickly.