Queuing at the supermarket to pay for a sandwich, I become frustrated by the person who seems to be taking an age to pack and pay for their shopping. Don’t they know that I have a limited amount of time to get my sandwich bought, eaten and get back to my desk?
Imagine my increasing indignation when the next person in the queue also takes what seems like a millennium to get anywhere near putting a relatively small amount of food and a pack of toilet rolls in his backpack.
“That’ll be £21.47 please,” says the cashier.
The man then takes another 2 minutes to tap every pocket about his person, check every compartment of his wallet and every section of his backpack. Save me from this person, stealing increments of my lunch break by dawdling in front of me!
“You might as well cancel it. I haven’t got enough,” the man says.
I start to feel like an idiot.
“How much is the pack of toilet rolls?” he asks the cashier. The cashier confirms that the large multipack is just over £7. “Just take that off the bill,” the man suggests.
“That’s £14.38,” says the cashier.
The man fumbles again with his wallet, searches through a small amount of change in his pocket and eventually manages to count out £14.30.
Now I just feel a mix of shame at my own selfish thoughts, and compassion for this man struggling to pay for basic essentials that most of us take for granted.
“You haven’t got another eight pence, have you?” asks the cashier.
I reach in to my own pocket and find a ten pence piece that I try and hand to the cashier. It’s too little, too late, but I hope that it will make a small amount of difference. Goodness knows I can afford to give this man ten pence to make his life that tiny bit easier.
The cashier looks me in the eye, pauses, smiles, and suggests that I keep my ten pence. I am perplexed.
The cashier re-scans the large pack of toilet rolls, by now confusing both myself and the man who has just asked him to take it off the bill. The till rings up £21.47 again.
That’s when the cashier reaches in to his shirt pocket and produces his own staff discount card. He swipes it through the till, no doubt breaking every rule that he signed up to when he accepted his job and took receipt of the card.
“That’ll be £13.93,” says the cashier.
The man leaves with all of his shopping, and I leave apologising to God for my own failings.