Even if the usual supply of rude customers is running short, there's one person that can always be relied upon to make a fuss about nothing and ruin your day.
A Late Opening at Food Place
Kick off - one minute past eight. The terminally bad tempered old fool who lives next door to Food Place is the first person to duck under the shutters as I open up. He glowers at me, tapping his watch. I pretend not to notice, keeping him standing there playing charades for just a little longer, and when I think he's looked like a Disneyland showpiece for long enough, turn and smile. He doesn't smile back; he wouldn't know how to.
"What time is it, please?" he droans.
I check my watch. It's one minute past eight and I'm not in the mood for a debate centering around his watch being radio-controlled and mine being wrong, so I tell it like it is. "One minute past."
"And what time do you open please?"
"Eight o'clock," I sigh, resigned to defeat. However small the defeat may be, it doesn't sit well when you're still recovering from waking up.
"Good day," and he walks off into the shop.
Now this man annoys me for more reasons than I can count. How else would he acquire such a 'new-name' from me? He isn't actually called Mr Foole (which I think is pretty obvious), I just have a habit of giving ridiculous-sounding names to people I don't like.
The most pressing issue I have about Foole is his the way he sees himself. He walks around with his nose in the air, talking down to everyone and, generally, being a snob. You'd think he was a professor. Ask him what his profession was, before retirement, and he'll say he was a civil servant. Half truth. He worked for British Telecom and, I've learned, this used to make you a low-grade civil servant.
When Food Place was built, back in 1996, he was one of about four people who opposed the store. He tried to rally support but failed miserably; there was no disguising the fact that our area of town was lacking a grocery store. He just didn't want it next to his house, evidently preferring to live next to a derelict school. You'd think that somebody who was so against the place from the outset would avoid shopping there. But no, he's at the door at five to eight every morning to get his newspaper and breath mints. Interestingly, he also argued that Food Place would hurt independent newsagents - so why doesn't he buy those two items from the paper shop across the road?
And then there's the things he does once inside the store. He stands at the newscube (that's techno-shop-speak for newspaper rack) and reads the red-tops. He reads The Sun, The Star and the Mirror from cover to cover, then moves onto the Telegraph, which he pretends to read for a few minutes, before settling on his Daily Mail. He was an Express patron until it turned into the Daily Diana. There's only so much you can read about a dead princess.
So he makes a total mess of the newspapers before going to the tills and joining the longest queue. He does this on purpose to enable him to whinge about the waiting time. He also does his best to be served by Jean. She's a bit of a battleaxe; he doesn't like her, she doesn't like him. I've fielded ever manner of complaints about Jean from him:
"She didn't smile!"
"She momentarily looked away whilst serving me!"
"She crinkled my Express!"
"She didn't open a bag for me!"
Oh just shut up and go away. In fact, no don't. Because if you did, we'd be lost for somebody to giggle at each morning.