She was firmly positioned in the poor people’s queue. Some respite was to be had by leaning her upper body over the barriers, in a blatant display of exhaustion and boredom.
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A woman with learning disabilities tried to engage her in a lurid conversation about her mother and her boyfriend. Her mother had been taken ill, she said -- and had been forced to wait two hours for the ambulance to arrive.
She was having great difficulty in accessing her mother’s bank account, she confided, to disinterested ears. Her boyfriend had ruined her new bed, by stabbing it with a knife. Other customers were discussing the tags around their ankles and laughing. It was business as usual in the South Street Post Office.
She gazed with glazed eyes at the wall-mounted telly which always showed an endless loop of advertisements. That Kate Middleton and her prince smiled down at her from a commemorative stamp promotion. Parasitic free-loading b******s, she thought -- and felt that they were mocking her with their perfect smiles and all of their stolen wealth, as she stood in line with her leccy key and one precious, crumpled fiver to charge it with.
After completing her pathetic transaction, she left the disgruntled (but not quite revolutionary) human centipede of a queue behind her.
She headed to the Tesco Metro. It was a fairly quick trip round the aisles, as she had f***-all money. She reached the checkout and realised that, if she didn’t put any items back on the shelf, she would be walking home. Her family couldn’t do without bread or cheese. She couldn’t put back the Tesco Value vodka, that was for sure, but neither could she return the little chocolate cakes she had bought as a treat for her daughters.
It was late afternoon. She had started her shift at work the previous day and had finally finished an hour ago. She was deeply tired and had her heavy rucksack and her sleepover bag to carry, even before the shopping was taken into account.
However, her bitterness about the local bus company’s fares -- and her resentment of the greedy oligarch who owned the monopoly -- strengthened her resolve. She walked the miles home, realising upon the way, just how heavy the bags were, how much her back and shoulders hurt and just how not waterproof her trainers really were.
When she got home, she gave her husband a hug. He turned his head away from his computer, just for a moment -- and coughed in her face. Pig, she said -- sadly unsurprised -- and left the room.