Arsehole



In the supermarket I found myself in the queue behind a guy in a suit. He was young, maybe thirty, short black hair, smelled of something expensive. I don’t know what he’d come in for, but all he was going out with was a bottle of Diet Coke.

He was talking to a woman, a little older than him, in one of those sensible, conservative work dresses. She had a lot of folders and papers with her. She clutched them to her chest and moved her weight around on one heel. Signs of preoccupation. She asked him how his work was going.

One question was all it took.The young guy had just got a promotion. He was managing something now. I couldn’t catch what because at that moment some kid nervously asked me to move so he could take a tower of baskets from underneath the checkout.

When I refocused, the guy in the suit was still talking. New responsibilities. Departmental problems. People he was dealing with who weren’t pulling for the company. His face glowed as he relayed all this like a dad telling someone about the trophy his daughter won at sports day. Except he was the dad and the daughter.

Paying for the Diet Coke with a twenty pound note, he asked the shy, rheumy-eyed woman at the till to give him his change in specific denominations and certain quantities of different coins. “I’m not being very helpful am I?” he asked, stylishly, half-winking at his companion.

It was my turn at the checkout next. I was buying breakfast cereal, some chewy bars and a new journal. The cost of this princely haul £4.99. I gave her a fiver and thought about asking her to give me my change in one penny coins. But she looked too hassled to appreciate my satire.

On the way out of the supermarket I saw the man and the woman again. She was waiting for him as he argued with his mobile phone. He paced up and down, palming a cigarette, meeting his own floating clouds of cologne every time he retraced his irritable steps.

I had to pass close to them because they were so near the doors. She looked like she thought he was a total arsehole.

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