I had a confrontation in a supermarket tonight. It was so unexpected and bizarre, I am still wondering what the fuck happened.
For reasons that I will not go into, I was shopping at a "foreign" supermarket tonight. I know the local supermarket like the back of my hand, and could shop there in a blackout if need be without missing anything. However, every supermarket is laid out differently, and carries a different range of goods, so shopping in a new place is always a bit of a challenge and a voyage of discovery.
Here's the scenario. I was lugging an overloaded handbasket down an aisle. About midway down the aisle, there were two young women standing in front of the shelves, presumably talking about what to buy for dinner. Coming the other way was a woman in perhaps her late 40's, carrying a loaf of bread. We both couldn't make it past the two women, so the woman coming the other way gave way to me.
I have to say, this supermarket was very uncrowded by the standard of my usual supermarket. On my usual nightly shopping journey at the local, I'll have to wait or give way at least half a dozen times because of the density of traffic up and down the aisles. You just give way and move on. Simple.
Not for this woman though. When I was about 10 feet beyond her, she launched into a loud tirade about how I could have at least said "thank you", and she just went on and on and on. I was scanning the shelves intently at this point, looking for something or other on my shopping list and wondering where the hell I'd find it (even if this particular supermarket stocked it), so it took me a few seconds to realise that her loud rant was aimed at me.
I decided to deploy the non-commital but tolerant stiff upper lip and moved on. I thought that if I ignored her, she'd run out of steam and give up.
No. She was like a pitbull with its jaws clamped around a bone, and she wasn't letting go. So I decided to make eye contact and gave here a small smile, which said, "You can rant all you like, but it's water off a duck's back - you aren't going to make me feel miserable and unhappy through your abuse".
For that is what she had set out to do. If she had been polite about it, I would have said sorry for being impolite, and thanked her for letting me through, but she was not being polite. She started angry and went into abuse without swearing in just a few seconds, calling me fat and stupid and many other things.
I just smiled again and kept moving. I figured that if I opened my mouth and said something, it would just give her ammunition to keep going.
Was she a raving nutter? No, she was dressed professionally and well groomed - like a lawyer or a manager in the public service. But she had these piggy little eyes, and a mean look. Either angry and loud was her default setting, or she had been getting stuck into something at the office Christmas party.
Incidentally, she was American - and that shocked me. Every Yank that I have ever met has been polite and courteous, but she was cantankerous and anything but polite. She was a really pushy and annoying cow.
She was making enough racket for everyone within earshot to turn their heads to see what was going on. It's not the sort of thing you see or hear in a supermarket every day.
When I got to the checkout, there was a bloke in front of me. Cow turned up and pushed in front of him and removed three big bottles of diet cola from the checkout conveyor. She'd put them there, then gone wandering around the supermarket for more stuff, which is where she'd run into me. She gave me another serve and a nasty look with her piggy eyes, then took her shopping off to another checkout. She dropped her stuff off, then went off to gather more from another aisle, giving me another serve as she went by.
The lady running my checkout was smiling quietly, and she sort of apologised to me (don't know why) and said that the cow was a "very angry lady, and she didn't know why". Clearly, the sympathies of at least some of the people in the supermarket were with me. Maybe she was a known quantity, and I was just the latest victim.
But I had some revenge.
When I had finished paying, she was still doing her angry thing at the checkout closest to the door. When I got to her, I bellowed at the supermarket, "Merry Christmas everyone - may you have a better time than this bitter old cow".
I then gave her a smile - and she flashed her piggy glare at me and said something like "Oh, good one fatso" - and I walked out.
The effect was spoiled somewhat by me having a frog in my throat (I think I fried it on my fast ride yesterday), but it completely startled everyone in the supermarket. I don't think anyone was expecting retribution - we are too polite and laid back as a nation for that sort of thing.
I hope she gets deported back to Obama-land.