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Almost an impatient patient

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Just the other day I was almost hospitalised because of those snacks and gadgets

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Shopping has become hazardous of late. Not so long ago it used to be frustrating when staff at the stores were apathetic and unhelpful, or when they interacted with customers whilst chewing the cud, but lately I have found myself dodging “busy” staff in supermarkets as they bustle through the aisles.

Sometimes they’ll be pushing carts of items, on their way to restocking the shelves; while at other times they are just walking and as far as they’re concerned, they have the right of way.

If you don’t see them coming with their packed carts you can get hurt, or run over at the very least.

I realise that I have written about this before, but just this past week I started wondering if emergency lanes should not be marked out on the floors of a store where there is a danger of you being rammed while scratching to find that packet of brown onion soup.

With marked-out service lanes, shoppers would be out of the way of staff doing their rounds, and it would save the store managers the effort of having to train their workers to be more courteous.

Even more importantly, I think emergency lanes should be marked out in those queueing lanes leading to the tills where all the snacks and gadgets distract shoppers on their way to pay for their shopping.

Just the other day I was almost hospitalised because of those snacks and gadgets.

There I was with my three items on the way to the till, and there he was, a well-dressed young man with his shopping basket.

However, he was interested in the pretzels – so he paused for a few seconds; then two steps later he saw the lozenges, and paused again.

But when he paused to look at the chewing gum display, just two steps further on, I rolled my eyes and thought I might as well overtake seeing as he was so busy holding up the line. So I pushed past him, and I assure you that I said, “excuse me” as I did – thinking back, maybe I should have disturbed him to ask if he was done shopping.

As far as I was concerned I had every right to make a beeline to the till. But he had other thoughts, because he left what he was doing and approached me. At first, I didn’t know that he had moved up behind me because most of the time I am daydreaming anyway.

But when I heard the heavy breathing behind me I realised that someone was not happy.

It was as if Darth Vader was about to unleash the Dark Side of the Force on me right there in a shopping queue.

I should add that he looked fit and strong and I doubt that I could have even gone one round against him in a fight; he could fold me like a napkin and we both knew it.

I thought that our “altercation” was all over after I had left the store, but a minute or so later he strode past me and he was glaring at me. Then after he’d passed by, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that he turned around a few times to glare at me some more. I doubt that we’ll ever be such good friends like we were a few minutes earlier when I was behind him in the queue.

What has become of us? This young man was irritating me when he was ahead of me, delaying me, and yet when I got ahead of him, I felt as if he had no right to be upset with me. Our conflict was over one space in a queue, which probably translates into 15 seconds if you really think about it, and yet we left the “battlefield” sworn enemies.

Yet, if you think about it, life is so short, and if we realise that as mortals we are all heading in the same direction – mortality, shouldn’t this make us more considerate? Instead of fighting for superiority I wonder how different things would be if we used our energies to help each other and make our fellow travellers’ journeys a bit easier.

As Clarence Darrow said: “It should bring a closer kinship, a better understanding, and a deeper sympathy for the wayfarers who must live a common life and die a common death.”