August 20, 2007

The floor is wet

I’m out of work these days. The internship at Quintus was excellent, but I was hankering for something more financially rewarding, so quit three weeks ago and now have a new internship lined up. Arguably the worst thing about unemployment is that you lose track of days. It happened yesterday.

I’d run out of milk. As I cannot physically leave the house of a morning without having drunk tea, I needed to replenish my fridge so at about 7 I stepped out into the miserable August evening and headed off to Sainsbury’s, planning to use this opportunity to purchase some more obscure items. It was only when I was halfway up the street that I remembered it was Sunday – said supermarket would be closed at this late hour. So I decided I would buy my semi-skimmed at the Costcutters on the way.

The lights were on and the door was ajar, so I entered and set about locating the dairy products. A teenage girl was mopping the floor. Clearly they were winding up the day’s business – I was just in time. The girl said, “the floor is wet”. The floor was merely damp, but glad of her concern for my traction, I said, “okay”, and continued searching in vain for the milk.

“Excuse me,” she said. I turned. She was staring at me with disgust, as if I’d been the one at her cousin’s wedding who got a little too drunk and exposed himself and propositioned her mother and should have understood that he was no longer welcome in her shop.

“Sorry, are you closed?” I asked. Girl said nothing and continued to stare with inexplicable fury. There was another girl, behind the counter. I turned to her for an answer – all I got was a dead-eyed disdain and silence.

Girl 1 suddenly raised her voice, “please leave!” I detected a foreign accent which may have explained the – how can I put this? – lack of British-style customer service, but the command nonetheless rendered me lost for words for a moment or two. She continued, “the floor is wet”, as if it were common knowledge that a floor’s dampness is indicative of a customer’s right to be in a shop. I wasn’t going anywhere without some kind of closure, so I rephrased my question: “so you’re not open?”

“No.” I left, bemused. The girl sounded east European so I can only assume that they were expecting a visitor from the KGB and “the floor is wet” was their codeword. When I didn’t reply with “here, use my towel”, they knew that I didn’t have the secret microfiche containing the embassy blueprints and urgently ushered me out in their unorthodox style.

I did manage to get some milk in the end.

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Very entertaining Mr. Wilson Craw! Oh, and while I’m here, I’ve never taken to the Bourne franchise either. I always feel as if there is some interesting backstory of which I should already be fond (sounds like I’m missing the point here, but no, believe me, I’m not) and interested in finding more about. Yet alack, there clearly isn’t…

    27 Aug 2007, 10:37

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