Home » Musings » Mad Person Magnet

trolleyBeing (sorta) a writer us creative types look everywhere for inspiration, I hope I am not betraying any secret writer’s code here when I say that the real jackpot of mirth-source is the humble supermarket. Wow. Forget the Star Trek enterprise, the real cross-section of characters is right there in your local market of superness.

I had to stock up on the usual (onions, chocolate orange, actual oranges, mint chunky kit kats, Sunday Times (for Priscilla), and maybe a couple of bottles of gin). I was in the genius that is ’10 items or less’ lane (whoever invented that is obviously a genius, I often wonder what else that person invented, were they also responsible for other initiatives, was it the same person that came up with the five-colours-biro multipen for example?). The man in front of me had two baskets, wayyyy more than ten items. You’d think this joker would be laughed out of the queue, out of the whole shop, no sir, not today. This fella was welcomed with smiles, jokes, oh he was the man of the moment, when my turn came that all changed. “Hello Hello” I began, nothing, no smile, I tried some banter “Poor chap was obviously bad at maths, still, fair enough” I tried jovially, nothing. Hmm. Now here’s the funny thing, as the lovely charmer scanned the Sunday Times she started to read it. Seriously, she was reading it, they’re bananas this lot. First she flirts with Mister-break-the-10 items-or-less-law, then she totally switches off her human-ness when it comes to me (normal person with less than the ten items), and then she takes the craziness further by stopping to read the paper – that’s my paper lady and I would like to read it. Man. Don’t get me wrong, am loving this. Where did this angel come from? Does she indeed own the supermarket? Who knows, what I do know is that she is above the law here, she can do anything she wants, and if she wants to set fire to the paper and insert it into my person she is (in her world) more than allowed to go ahead and do this. In fact, I count myself lucky that she chose simply to read it rather than assault me and everyone I’ve ever met should she chose to do so.

I actually love the supermarket for more than just creative inspiration, my love and fascination stems from childhood. I recall being shepherded around the supermarket a lot when I was a little Skate. A lot. Not only was it a source of entertainment of seeing all kinds of crap covered in chocolate, but the anticipation on getting to the biscuit aisle, wow, I would happily be dragged around for months just to get a shot at the biscuit aisle – all the winners were there, too many to list here (but Kit Kats obviously was a big deal, even then, oh and Clubs & Viscounts – I think Viscounts have sadly died out, but I hear Club is still going as strong as ever GO ON CLUB MATE, nice one. The ultimate though in the supermarket dragarama was the checkout then too, the conveyor belt was every bit as entertaining as the game-show it featured on every Saturday night  – The Generation game – it was our favourite thing in the whole world, to play along and guess what would come next to pass you on the conveyor belt. We played it (I am sure to the mutual happiness of the checkout peeps and the patient shoppers in the queue too) for real at the checkout, what’s next mum I would say eyes closed ‘I bet it’s cheese, is it cheese, ohhhh no, Rennies, let me try again’. Happy days, I highly recommend playing.

Being a mad-person-magnet, I only have to be in a supermarket for literally 10 minutes or so before they find me (same on the trains, although on the trains it is within 10 seconds before they home in on me and start breathing tenants extra all over me). Yesterday I saw a loony (that’s what they like to be called) sidling up to me, he was dying to be totally weird, trust me, I know the signs.

“They’re right aren’t they” he opened with.

That was the moment I should have just walked away and out of the supermarket, but I was in the queue, he had me, I was at the conveyor belt of wonder, I was a trapped audience.

“Ye-ahhh” I what I thought was a non-committing fashion.

“What’s your handicap then.”

Okey dokey, it was going to be like this was it.

“Oh I don’t really play golf” this was clearly the worst thing I could have possibly said, and also my biggest of errors. One I had broken the cardinal rule, never ever ever ever evvvvvver engage, and two especially do not negate whatever it is they are rabbiting on about. Idiot (me). He thusly launched into (what seemed like a ) 20 minute routine on how to start playing golf, why golf is fundamental to human nature, why golf is essential to the wellbeing of every man, loony, and frog (green, blue, or otherwise) on the planet.

“Amateur,” he then decided to shout at me. “AMATEURRRRR,” oh god, I’ve really done it now. All I wanted to do was stock up on some essentials (less than ten), now I am in the crazy zone, with of course no “security” guards around, of course not, why would they be there at the actual moment when you clearly need one. It was going to get physical – like I said, trust me on this, I know the signs, when you’re a seasoned mad-person-magnet like me, well, you get to know the form pretty quickly. He pulled me from the neck of my t-shirt to emphasise a very important announcement.

“Amateurs my friend, are the scum of the earth” I agree. I would have agreed if he told me tesco’s value was better than tesco’s finest, in fact I would have agreed with him if he said golfers are more important than life itself. Jeez, there was no way out of this, there really wasn’t. All I think of was that the check out lady would somehow save me from this clear act of craziness.

“You know what else is wrong with this world don’tcha”

“Umm” was the best I could do.

“Blair” he says. Blair!? Not only had I entered the Twilight zone, but we had time travelled backwards too.

“Yeah” I laughed. Again praying this was the safest route. It wasn’t. He went berserk. He picked up his aubergine and slammed it down onto the floor. Oh God, it was quickly escalating into something very ugly. They’d need a clean-up on aisle-loony pronto.

Just at the point where it couldn’t get any more nightmarish, a cleaner appears from nowhere and starts to care for the poor innocent aubergine that never hurt anyone and who’s only intention was to grow good and plump and ripe so that it could be enjoyed by the non golfing amateurs of the world. Then of course the announcement over the tannoy said something like “Everybody stop what you are doing at look at this”. Great now the whole supermarket was watching, looking at me as though I was the mad one. How did I get here I was thinking, if only this was some kind of Jeremy Beadle (google him) moment, although suddenly I felt very sorry for all the people that had ever been pranked, although alas I felt sorry for myself too, this wasn’t a prank, this was just plain awkwardness.

A supermarket supervisor came over, finally an end to this. “What are we up to now, did you throw that on the floor?” Ms jobsworth demanded. Oh god. I almost felt sorry for him and was going to say that it was me, when to turn up the madness another notch, Mr Nutjob spontaneously burst into tears. You couldn’t make it up, what next, a giraffe singing Sinatra perhaps? Ms Jobsworth thankfully took care of the whole deal. She didn’t speak to me of course, no, that would be too much like actual customer service (probably I would have to go to the Customer Service desk for Customer Service). She could have said “Sorry about that, that’s just Mr Jenkins, he’s a regular” or “cor we get em all in ‘ere,” but no, she felt it much more amenable to ignore me, much more important to coax the loony elsewhere than to actually talk to a normal customer.

“That happens to me all the time that” I said to the check-out girl, nothing. I forgot she was above the law and not part of what I thought was society. Anyway, the moral of the story I pondered at the time was that I really should try and play golf, I’ve always felt this. One – the madman and me probably would’ve had a giggle two – two, he would have been one aubergine better off, and three – everyone seems to play except me. Note to self – learn golf and maybe stay away from the ’10 items or less’ queue, it’s a hotbed bunker full of peril. I might try staying indoor more to avoid the mad people, butttt they’d only find me on facebook instead. Kirk out.


3 thoughts on “Mad Person Magnet

  1. Hi Martin, we’re friends on facebook and we took your offer to check out your blog. Glad we did too because we found it fun & lighthearted, putting us in a better mood by making us laugh right away. The story, though insane sounding is believable to us. We’ve ran into a few “crazies” in our lifetime unfortunately & oh how they leave their lasting mark. lol.

    It’s no wonder why they say “Life is stranger than fiction.” It is!! Sometimes we wonder if everyone in the world’s going mad and then we read something like your blog & say to ourselves….Hey, there’s other folks out there, just like us…trying to survive the “crazies”.

    Our advice? Well, we’ve found peace in Isle 2 of Ingalls (our supermarket). Another suggestion would be, the next time someone says that to you. Place your hand over your eyes, look past them and scream to the tops of your lungs…..FOUR!!! Then deck him! LOL

    Love the blog & will be back for more crazy tales from the Supermarket!

  2. Beth Teliho says:

    hahahaha! I find your humor most charming. I giggled throughout the entire post, but your last paragraph really “got me”. The fact that your take away was to play more golf – LOL. And I love how the checker was above the law because she read your newspaper…omg…GOLD.

    My friends that accompany me from time-to-time to the store have marveled at my ability to attract the crazies as well. What is it about us magnets? I dunno, but it does provide great story inspiration….

    1. Martin Skate Martin Skate says:

      Thanks Beth, that’s super cool of you to say so. It is true about me being a loony-magnet, I have so many instances of this happening! Loving your post too, I can identify with everything about your under the apple tree post, I love that, I had forgotten about the broccoli-kettle incident until then!

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