Tuesday, April 29, 2008

16.43 On Time
There were three of us in the queue at the Post Office.

The chap in front of me was so busy on his mobile that, just as she was being called to Cashier Number Three, he walked right into the back of the woman at the head of the queue. RudePhoneChap was so agitated by his call that he couldn't keep still. Instead of waiting tidily at the 'please stand here' sign he veered off and bumped into the shelf of go-on, impulse-buy-me, you-know-you-want-too gel pens, treasury tags and rubber bands.

I hung back, to give him a wide berth.

Cashier Number Four became free. RudePhoneChap (still on that call) made no move towards the window himself, but was successfully blocking my path. Cashier Number One looked up, caught my eye and inclined his head towards Number Four, giving me actual permission to queue jump and adding, somewhat unnecessarily, "He's on his phone."

I made to edge around RudePhoneChap and it was only then that I noticed the white stick.
I stopped, half edged and suddenly uncertain ... I mean, he was still 'on his phone', but pushing in before 'ObliviousBlindMan' is a different kettle of fish from 'FuckingIgnorantGluedToHisMobileAndNeverMindTheRestOfUsChap'.

What should I do? What's the protocol? Cough discreetly and say "Cashier Number Four is free"? How would he know I was talking to him? How would he know where Cashier Number Four was? Hadn't I seen him bumping into things already? What if he didn't know he was in the Post Office even?

How about touching his arm, telling him it was his turn and guiding him along to Cashier Number Four? Me?Touch a stranger? Yeah, like that's going to happen...

By this time, a fraction of a split second had passed and all four cashiers were free. I looked at Number One and whimpered "But he can't see" while Number Four saved the day with an authoritative "Would you like to come down here Sir?"

I bought my stamps and fled. City life is going to be more complicated than I expected.

Trouble Is Real - Johnathan Rice


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