I missed an anecdote a couple of blog posts ago; The tale of the worst possible type of customer. I wandered into Tesco Metro on Burton Road, Didsbury a few nights back to stock up on beer and pork scratchings, and in the queue was the oddest looking man I ever saw. I would guess he was between forty and fifty, shoulder length hair, general scruffy demeanour, and wearing the biggest baggiest technicoloured woolly jumper. He struggled under the weight of a basket with not much in it. Instead of standing upright and proud he slouched and cowered, hunched over a stack of beer crates.
I thought little of him, other than noting he was the sort of person to avoid eye-contact with. I wandered around choosing my items, and then returned to the till. By this point he was being served by the friendly young lady with the Scandinavian/Germanic sort of accent. She had an unsure expression, as though curiosity was about to turn into fear. His shopping consisted of a small random selection of beverages; a can of this, a bottle of that. His empty rucksack sat open on the counter in front of him beside his wallet. At first I thought he was studying the contents of his wallet as he was still hunched.
Leaning right over, hands firmly placed on the counter to steady him he wobbled and stammered, “The water. Get me the water.”
“Which water?” the cashier asked nervously.
“The water,” he barked. “The tall one.”
She quickly stepped out from behind the tills and returned moments later with a bottle of water.
“No, not that one. Get the man.” His tone was world weary exasperated, but getting increasingly junky-desperate. The poor girl was getting annoyed, and no doubt scared.
This customer didn’t seem to have any sort of mental or physical disability, and so I feel it’s probably fair to mock him. Really he just seemed to be a fussy dickhead who couldn’t remember his shopping list or communicate reasonably to shop staff. Having said that there was something really strange about the way he continually hunched over.
She returned with a male member (tee hee) of staff, but before either of them could speak, our weird friend spoke, “Not him... the tall one.”
Eventually the tall one came over and luckily seemed to be aware of this special customer’s special water requirements. He presented with a bottle of soda water.
By this point ol’ hunchy was in the middle of barking more incomplete thoughts.
“Where’s my cigarettes?”
“What cigarettes?” she reasonably asked, as there had been no prior mention of them.
“The strong ones.”
“errrr,” she looked at me nervously and I noticed her increase her distance from him.
“What are the strongest cigarettes?” he demanded of the tall one.
“Maybe Marlborough,” the tall one supposed.
“No it’s Benson and Hedges. Where are they? 20.”
She got them quickly from the shelf.
He spent an incredibly long time retrieving notes from his wallet, packing his shopping into his rucksack and putting his change away. Then he dragged himself, still in his bent double posture, over to the trolleys between the tills and the door.
I quickly paid for my goods, hoping to make it out of the store before the strange man. I didn’t want to get stuck walking the same direction as him, in accidentally close synchronicity. As I went to leave he was still hunched over the trolleys, his rucksack on the floor beside his feet.
“Are you ok?” I asked.
Then he turned to the counter and shouted “Get me the chair.”
“What chair?” said cashier lady and the tall one.
“The one I sat on. Over there.”
The tall one brought over a kick-stool; presumably the chair in question. He placed it on the ground but it remained un-sat in.
Out of curiosity and concern I was still watching the proceedings, but out of self interest edging out the door, and peering in through the window. I made the decision to leave it to the good staff of Tesco. I reasoned that my curiosity would never fully be satisfied without resorting to consulting his medical notes and psyche evaluation. And that if he was having some sort of episode then the Tesco manager would have a procedure to use.
Off I went, and now I’ll never know who this odd man was, and what his strange malady was.