I'd just finished serving a lovely customer. She'd chatted to me about the weather and about when she worked in a supermarket. I'd pulled faces at her children, helped her to pack and had just seen her off with a friendly goodbye.
So up pulls the next customer.
"Hiya!" I chirp. We have to greet customers with a smile and some variation of the word 'hello'. Fair enough, but it only opens the avenue for rude customers not to reply which creates tension. This lady doesn't reply but merely pauses for a moment to stare at me.
I begin scanning her items through whilst she piddles about trying to open a carrier bag. By the time I've got ten items scanned I can see her, from the corner of my eye, getting ratty with her carrier bag, which she still hasn't succeeded in opening. I stop and take off another few bags and flap them open for her to use.
"There you go, they're a bit stubborn sometimes," I say, trying to lighten the already deteriorating mood. She just tuts and snatches one of the bags. How very rude.
By now I've given up on this woman and decide to scan her shopping through and send her packing as quickly as possible. She continues to pack slowly, tutting and huffing all the time. By now I'm exchanging facial expressions with the next person in line who, like me, is getting irritated by her slow pace and lack of manners.
When we're finally done, and I've announced the amount due, she tosses her credit card at me. It won't swipe. I try again. Nothing. So on to the old trick: wrap the card in a carrier bag and swipe it through that - works every time.
The woman suddenly discovers her voice: "What on earth are you doing, that's my card!"
"It's just a trick we use to get them to swipe when they won't work."
"Excuse me but it DOES work. Are you trying to say I'm some kind of card fraudster?"
"No, the card hasn't been declined, it's just because the strip we swipe is dirty, the machine reads it better through a bag." and I'm thinking: here we go.
"Dirty? I've never known anything like this is my life." she roars. She tosses the last item into her last bag and hurls in onto her trolley before tapping her fingernails on the end of the checkout.
Once the payment is complete, this 'lady' starts fiddling around putting her card away and ratching through her handbag. I've done my best to remain as perky as possible to make sure she can't say I was rude. I hang back for a few seconds, but realise she isn't going away, so I start on the next lot of shopping, scanning the items straight into a carrier bag.
From the corner of my eye I see the creature I've just finished serving flinch. "Excuse me, I'm not finished! You might as well throw me out of the shop! And why is this woman getting a service you didn't give me?"
"I'm sorry?" Trust me to get lumbered serving the biggest drama queen since Mariah Carey.
"Why are you packing this customer's shopping when you didn't pack mine? This is a disgrace!"
By now there's a definite 'I'm fed up of you now' tone developing in my voice: "I'm only packing while you're still here, so as not to rush you."
"But you are rushing me. What's more, the service has been dreadful. I am going to report you to your superiors." With that, Margo Leadbetter stomps off to the Customer Service Desk and, no doubt, gives poor Tracey an earful too.
A few customers later, somebody points out there's a cooked chicken sitting on the end of my till, out of sight behind the carrier bag holder. Oh good God it's hers, I just know it. I wait for a quiet moment and take it back to the rotisserie for them to keep hot.
About an hour later I look up and my heart sinks when I see her storming back towards me.
"I have just got home and unpacked all my shopping, and I'm missing the cooked chicken I purchased."
I slap the smile on: "Yes, we did find it after you'd left, but I've taken it back to the hot counter. I'll get a supervisor to fetch it for you." I ring the bell to summon Annette.
"Is that all?"
Oh what the hell is it now? "Sorry?"
"Isn't it customary to apologise?" she barks at me.
Sod being nice, she's done it now: "I don't have anything to apologise for. You left it behind, nobody noticed. These things happen."
When Annette arrives to see what I want, the beast starts off on the biggest, most dramatic, rant you've ever heard. Could even match one of mine. She screams about poor service. How I deliberately started hurling the next customer's shopping down the chute when she was still there and how she'd gotten flustered and forgotten her chicken. Annette just nods politely and promises to 'have a word'. She never does of course. Well, not about me.
So, if you're reading this now and you know you once made a scene in Food Place about a cooked chicken and attempted to get a cashier into trouble because you'd been feeling rather tense lately - I hope you feel very bad about yourself.
There's one Hall of Shame volume told. Many more to come...