Generally on a Tuesday evening I can be found ambling up and down the aisles of our local Sainsbury's, daydreaming of doing something considerably more interesting than loading up a trolley full of groceries. I sometimes find things to amuse myself along the way (see here, here and here.) and, usually, the whole experience is just made a little less tedious as a result. No harm, no foul.
Sometimes, however, things go wrong. Badly wrong.
I was on the home run on this particular occassion, bakery behind me, heading for the freezer section and my boredom ratio was already well into the danger zone when she hove into view. She was a thirtysomething lady who we'd spotted earlier, heading towards us and carrying a fancy handbag. I know it was fancy because Mrs A had commented as such, but I could have probably taken an educated guess as she was carrying it on her arm (rather than it being slung in the trolley with the couscous) in the manner of ladies that are pleased with their handbag. That strange walk with the bag slung in the crook of her arm, wrist up and outwards to the side as though she was carrying an invisible tray. Every time I've seen this walk performed before the person involved wasn't having to control an errant shopping trolley at the same time, which was clearly a tricky skill to master.
I know this because I had a go myself after we'd passed her (sans fancy handbag) and almost ended up putting the shopping trolley into the frozen peas. As I said, boredom levels were dangerously high by this point.
Mrs A gave me a playful dig in the ribs, told me to behave and I chuckled my way to the end of the aisle where I waited as she grabbed some stuff from the freezer.
There was a noticeable determined click-clack of angry high heels along the aisle that we'd just come up and, with hindsight, this was the point at which I should have abandoned the shopping and run.
Mrs Fancy-Handbag had come back. And she was cross.
I stood very still, hoping that her vision might be movement based*, but apparently not. She asked if I made a habit of taking the rise out of people in the supermarket and gave me a really first class telling off. I did the only thing I could do under the circumstances - I apologised.
This just made her madder.
She embarked on quite an impressive rant that culminated with her telling me to grow up and calling me a dick. I half heartedly told her that there was no need to use that kind of language and that was that. She click-clacked angrily away towards the bagels.
Mrs A looked disappointed and the moral of this sorry tale hit me with blinding clarity. A moment of epiphany to rival Saul on the road to Damascus:
Never stop for fishfingers.
* - Well, it worked with the velociraptors in Jurassic Park