next in line

The girl at the coffee shop counter told the man in front of me, a regular, how this was her last day working there and she was leaving to do something else, which I didn’t catch.  He was very positive and enthused for her, wished her the best of luck several times.  I’d already been waiting for five minutes behind him, the only person waiting in the otherwise empty shop.  He was waiting for buttered toast and four rounds of coffee to go.  There was another man with a suspiciously subtle nose-stud scuttling back and forth into the kitchen and back.  I didn’t know what he was doing.  Preparing the butter?  I just wanted a coffee.  She’d said she’d be with me in a sec, five minutes before.  His order wasn’t wildly complex.  There was two of them allegedly serving.  I wanted some of that coffee in that jug over there poured into one of those mugs there.  That was all.  His credit card predictably failed to work the first time.  Seven or eight minutes now.  Starbucks could’ve served about twenty people in this time, I was sure.  Still she spoke about her new job and how good it would be, still he enthused.  As she battled fixing a lid onto one of the coffees I hoped she was a lot fucking better at whatever it was she was going to do than what she was doing here.

In M&S to pick up my Mum’s Christmas present of a pink dressing gown.  Super-fast collection service, it had been advertised as, or some such.  Three people were in front of me, not being super-fast.  Not collecting anything, it appeared.  The first old lady was simply describing an item she thought they had, or should have.  A lumbering young ginger man loomed over his monitor for something matching her description, umming and ahhing.  Before, no, it definitely didn’t exist sorry.  That took about five minutes.  I should have just paid the three pounds extra for delivery.  I regretted that now.  To the side of the queue was a small bench where a well made-up old lady was flirting vaguely with an old man around her age, who was waiting for his wife.  They’d lived close to each other their whole lives, it appeared, and kept finding places in common.  Gwent Avenue?  Now that sounds familiar but where is that?  They’d never met before but she kept touching his arm.  He bashfully turned away, mindful of his wife.  He explained all the different places in the same small area where he’d lived.  Ooh, moved around a bit haven’t you? she said.  Just go where she tells me to tell you the truth.  She earns the money, see.  Another old lady in front of me protractedly ordered an item and was told to come back later.  When finally my turn came, the ginger man returned an item which wasn’t mine and would have let me walk away with it had I not inspected it closely and found it was a brown coat for someone of a similar name, not a pink dressing gown, for me.

The delay meant I was late back at the flat and had missed the unpredictably timed post.  This meant a trip down the post depot to collect the expected parcel.  In front of me here was a man who sounded like a colleague of the older man over the counter.  The younger postal worker was apparently also moving on, for better pay mate see.  You gotta take the opportunity while it’s there like see, if you wanna get on.  The two men had a cyclical sort of conversation in which neither was paying much attention while the older man completed paperwork to do with his colleague’s first class delivery.  When handed a ten pound note for the one pound thirty fee, the older man waived the charge as he didn’t have any change.  He’d come back and pay him later when he had it, all right?  Yeah.  I finally reached the counter and handed over my form.  The older man returned and said that the postman hadn’t arrived back to the depot with my package yet, so I’d have to come back later on.

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