Tamara took an instant dislike to Fay, the girl behind the checkout. Her hair colour was too brash, she had too much eyeliner on and her multi-coloured fingernails were way too long to do anything practical. But then Tamara hadn’t wanted to do her food shopping in Tesco in the first place. It was only because she’d won £100 of Tesco vouchers in the school’s Sportathon Fundraiser raffle that she felt forced to visit the supermarket and spend them.
Fay took an instant dislike to Tamara when she mentioned the rice,
“You’ve got a very limited selection of risotto rice. I had to get Arborio when I really wanted Carnaroli.” Fay decided Tamara had probably gone into the new Cath Kidston shop in town, bought most of the contents and was now attempting to wear them all in one go while she visited Tesco. She was a walking explosion of ditsy prints.
“Does your bakery do fresh croissants? I could only find the pre-packaged ones,” said Tamara as she unloaded the contents of her trolley onto the conveyor belt, “And this pesto doesn’t appear to be ‘alla genovese’, at least it doesn’t say so on the jar…”
Fay smiled weakly and took a deep breath as she waited for Tamara to finish unpacking her trolley,
“Do you need any bags?”
“No thank you, I brought my own.” Tamara pulled out several Waitrose bags from her Cath Kidston shopper and placed them in the packing area. Fay grabbed a carton of freshly squeezed orange juice with bits and started to scan. Very quickly.
Low-fat houmous, sesame seed crackers, chorizo, sparkling mineral water, organic oatcakes, rocket and watercress salad, feta cheese: Tamara struggled to pack everything into her bags in time. A backlog was building up and was helped out by the bulky packets of granola and Swiss muesli with extra hazelnuts. Fay could see a faint look of panic in Tamara’s face as she hurled the buffalo mozzarella, brie and Roquefort cheese in her direction. When the jalapeno stuffed olives were added satisfyingly to the pile, Fay started to feel confident she could win this one.
Tamara felt small beads of perspiration on her forehead as she worked as quickly as she could to pack the food into her bags. She couldn’t believe the speed things were hurtling into the packing area, and she swore the pancetta was almost thrown directly at her. She glanced at Fay and caught the venomous look in her eye, it was clear that Fay meant business. And Tamara was no pushover: she wasn’t going to be swamped by her own weekly food shop quite so easily. She’d spent three months of her gap year packing asparagus in a factory in Indonesia and she knew how to work fast when she had to.
Goose liver pate, polenta, cornichons, salted capers and rye bread: Tamara was now tucking these items speedily into her bags. She saw Fay tentatively reach for a Tesco carrier bag, but in response she produced another Waitrose Bag for Life which she’d kept out of sight. Plonking it in the packing area she swiftly stashed away the ciabatta, wheat bran and Pinot Grigio. And then Tamara stood back for a breather as Fay hit the fruit and veg.
Fay hadn’t reckoned on the fruit and vegetables slowing her down so much. As she swiftly tried to identify types of apple and melon, she could see Tamara relaxing a little,
“Those are Jerusalem artichokes in case you were wondering,” commented Tamara, “I’m surprised you had them here actually.” Fay knew full well what they were and punched the relevant entry on her touch screen before chucking the vegetables in Tamara’s general direction. And then there were the salmon fillets: reduced to £3.99. Fay had to scrape off the ‘reduced’ sticker before she could scan the pack. This was wasting valuable time. And wasn’t good for her nails either. Tamara almost had everything packed, Fay was certain she heard her emit a faint chuckle.
But Fay’s fortunes turned. The last item was a pot of organic Greek style yoghurt with ginger and lemon. But it wouldn’t scan properly so Fay called the supervisor over. The supervisor was already loaded down with four other items from other checkouts which hadn’t scanned properly so she was going to be some time finding out the prices,
“I think it’s 79p or something like that,” said Tamara hoping it could be sorted out very quickly,
“It’s not showing up on here. My supervisor will find out,” Fay crossed her arms and sat immobile in her seat. Tamara was going to have to stand there and wait.
Tamara placed her fully packed Waitrose bags into her trolley and re-tied her Cath Kidston scarf. She checked her phone, got her purse out ready to pay and smiled at the grumpy elderly couple who were scowling behind her in the queue.
“I tell you what, I’ll just leave the yoghurt,” said Tamara,
“Too late, supervisor’s gone to get the price now,”
After an inordinately long length of time which was probably only three minutes, the supervisor returned,
Fay tapped at the touch screen and Tamara was ready to pay.
“Do you have a Clubcard?” asked Fay,
“No, I never normally shop here,”
“What did you say?”
“Yes you did! You used a swear word just then. In fact, your entire manner has been very rude. I could tell from the moment I first arrived at this checkout that you didn’t like me,”
“And I could tell from the moment you first arrived at this checkout that you were looking at me like I was a piece of shit on your shoe,”
“Did you swear at me again?”
Tamara grabbed a baguette and brandished it above her head, “Just you swear at me one more time and I won’t hesitate in using this, it’s 10p cheaper than in Waitrose,”
“Can you put the baguette down please madam. I won’t have you threatening my staff with bakery items,” a spotty faced store manager arrived.
“Fine,” Tamara couldn’t be bothered to argue any more. She replaced the now bent baguette in her trolley and handed over the vouchers to Fay in silence, “I really think you need a wider range of risotto rice,” she said to the store manager.
“Thanks for the feedback.”
Tamara swept out of Tesco with her trolley and a slight smile on her lips. Perversely she’d actually quite enjoyed herself.
She decided to try Lidl the following week.