If you read this blog on a regular basis, you’d be under the impression that I spend a fair amount of my time at the supermarket. I’ve been lost in there. I’ve witnessed lost love. Today, I left inspired.
I know. From the supermarket. There’s more to Fibrotown than meets the eye.
It all occurred at the checkout. Again. (Really, you’ve got to spend more time there.)
My checkout chick and I were making small talk. Laughing at the holiday-makers who’d just spent $978 for a weekend’s worth of food.
“$978!” I shrieked. “Were there 20 of them?” She laughed. No, just the four.
“They made me feel kind of bad about myself, actually,” she confessed, eyes down, scanning away. Blip, blip, blip.
I looked at her. Fresh-faced. About 18. We’ve spoken before. She’s always bright, friendly and perky. And always, it seems, there.
“How so?” I asked.
“Oh, just in that talking down way that people have with us sometimes,” she replied, waving one arm around to indicate her fellow workers. Blip. Blip.
I channelled Eleanor Roosevelt. “No-one can make you feel bad about yourself unless you let them,” I said. She smiled and looked at me like I needed to get out more.
Our conversation moved on to how those crazy holidaymakers should have shopped with a list. “Do you always do that?” she asked.
I responded in the affirmative, outlining all the reasons why a list is a good thing (I don’t write finance stories for no reason, you know).
“I try to do that,” she said, setting me up for EFTPOS. “I cook a lot of my meals all at once and then freeze them. It’s hard to fit them in with studying for my HSC and working here, otherwise.”
I looked at her. She froze them? She must have seen the questions in my face. “I live by myself,” she said, still smiling. “I go to school, work here and then go home and study for my HSC. I’ve always wanted to be a police officer.”
Suddenly I remembered a previous conversation we’d had. Six months ago, she’d taken her pre-HSC police exam. I remembered her telling me, incredibly enthusiastically, how it would save time when she got her exam results. She’d be able to go straight off to the Academy. At the time, I admit, I listened with one ear, smiling and nodding, as she relayed just a little too much information. (Now I realise that maybe she told me because she didn’t have anyone else to tell.)
She’s all of 18. She’s doing it on her own. She’s still smiling.
Next time I see her, I’ll ask her how those exams are going.