Old enemies

Have you ever ‘bumped’ into someone from your past, recognised him or her instantly in that one flicker of a second when your eyes meet (although both of you have changed considerably in appearance), but instead prefer to pretend you did not at all?

I knew who she was the instant I saw her, and I think she did me as well. We were standing in line to pay for our baby things, mine for my ridiculously expensive pair of Freego shoes and an oversized frayed denim hat for Raeven, she and presumably her hubby with either their own baby’s bed quilt or a gift.

Service was excruciatingly slow, particularly when I had wanted to rush off. For some reason, I did not want to meet her eyes again, give her that second look that would send a telepathic message that said yes, we were acquaintances from a distant past, which would ensue a long conversation about our respective dispositions in the last 13 years, our current occupations (or lack thereof), our brief introductions of our respective spouses, our polite references to our cradled purchases to answer errant questions brought on by mildly annoying nosiness. Plus I just wanted to go home because it was going to be 6pm and there would be a jam.

And so, we stood in the queue of two, she with her mate, me with my baby things that did not really go with my facade so that must mean I’m buying them for a niece or a nephew or a friend’s child when really it’s for my own. The cashier took his time changing the roll of receipt paper on his cash register, his colleague talking to him about something she had for lunch.

And then she spoke.

“Why are they so slow?” she whispered but not too softly so that I could also hear, not caring what my feelings about the issue were.

“Is there a cure for their slowness?” she asked her spouse.

“Yes. It’s called farming,” he answered, without skipping a beat. I trained my eyes on the cashier and his colleague. They did not seem to notice. I could feel her eyes on me, though. The remark escaped her.

“What do you mean?” she asked, after a second.

“Means they should just be farminglor,” he answered patronisingly.

I could not listen anymore, for fear of all hell would break loose if the cashiers DID in fact know a little English. To hasten the process, I kept my credit card and paid with cash, walking away as quickly as I could.

I guess some things just refuse to change.


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