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A shopping incident

Mid-morning yesterday – after taking a dog to the vet – Christine, my better half, and I stopped off at our local example of a well-know supermarket store so that I could nip in to buy my preferred national newspaper, some pet food and lastly three loaves of a specialist sour dough bread (boasting seeds and cranberries as ingredients) that we had first come across when having a recent picnic lunch with some friends of ours.

I entered said store, picked up my copy of The Times, visited the “Pets” aisle and then finally went on the “freshly-baked bread” area to the far (back right) of the building.

In less than ten minutes, having completed my shop, I made my way to the check-out stations. Seeing that they were all quite busy – and not wishing to be delayed longer than I needed – I took a deep breath and made my way to the “self-service” check-out area.

The deep breath was taken because, in every supermarket I have ever visited, my record of successfully completing a shop purchase by using “self-service” tills has been patchy at best.

I don’t know why, but whenever I try to use one, I find that, having presented the first item’s bar code to the ‘tally’ window … either nothing happens … or, even if the ‘tally’ works correctly, I later find that afterwards I have invariably then put the item on the wrong surface beside the check-out machine (i.e. the left side when it should have been the right, or vice versa).

On this occasion, I couldn’t even get my first item’s “passing the bar code past the ‘tally’ window” action to work.

Frustrated, I moved to the next station and tried again. That one wouldn’t work either.

By now irritated, in a bit of a huff, I decided to give up trying to “self-check out” and instead return to the main “check out” stations and take my medicine by joining the back of whichever queue seemed the shortest.

Dear reader, I never made it.

As I attempted to depart the “self-service” checkout area by marching to the near end of the area and turning right to follow the route out into the supermarket proper, I inadvertently came across an obstacle that I hadn’t realised was there – a substantial metal box-type grid in which were contained a large stock of “own brand” supermarket shopping bags.

I tripped over its corner.

If, like me, you have played physical contact sports – or even if you haven’t, but you have at some point unexpectedly slipped or tripped (just basically fallen) – you may be familiar with the sensation of being the subject of an unexpected disaster suddenly occurring (and indeed your brain’s reaction to it) that I experienced yesterday and will now relate.

It wasn’t that Time stood still – because, let’s face it, it doesn’t – but immediately upon impact, my still-working instinctive survival senses kicked in as they always have done.

Although in reality what happened next took no more than a fraction of a second from start to finish, for me it seemed as though it lasted much longer than that.

At the point of impact – and then at the beginning of the graceful arc of my fall forwards over the top of the metal “box” – I had been carrying my intended purchases, not in a shopping basket or trolley, but simply (there being so few of them) gathered in my hands against my chest.

As I “took off” into the air in a flight that I might best describe as a large but flattish parabola, realising that I wouldn’t have time to both cast my purchases aside and then thrust my arms forward in an attempt to cushion – or take the brunt – of my fall, the gist of the one thought that occurred to me was “Ooops, this isn’t going to end well …”

And it didn’t.

Still clutching my shopping baggage, in effect I head-butted the floor – my nose to the fore – on the far side of the metal box with a loud, dull thud and sprawled forwards, immediately spraying a stream of blood in every direction. It was quite spectacular.

I didn’t lose consciousness at all, but I obviously needed assistance. It arrived in the form of two members of staff, one of whom tended to me (held a large roll of tissue paper to my nose) whilst the other got on her radio mike and called for the (presumably on-call) duty paramedics.

I was soon sitting in a chair whilst around me the staff cleaned up the floor as best they could and directed other shoppers not to use this particular exit of the “self-service check out” area.

The staffer with the radio bellowed into it trying to speak to a gent who was another, more qualified, paramedic: “Arthur? Arthur? Where are you? …”.

Eventually Arthur called back, very relaxed and unconcerned. “Arthur …” said the staffer, “…get here NOW!!”.

Thirty seconds later he joined us and took charge of stemming the flow of blood from my nose/head. By this time I was supplying my personal details, including whether I was on medication, e.g. blood-thinners etc., which I wasn’t.

[I would wish to record here that the attention given to me by the supermarket staff could not be faulted – they had obviously been well-trained, knew exactly what to do, and were generally most supportive and helpful].

Although they were concerned that I had lost consciousness and/or suffered concussion, I was able to assure them that I was quite sure I hadn’t.

My next move was to call Christine, who had been sitting all the while in the car park minding the dog that had been to the vet and waiting for me to complete my shop.

She was soon beside me – clearly concerned but joshing with the staffer with the radio mike (some form of supervisor) about the fact that she couldn’t even leave me to do some simple shopping without making a Horlicks of it.

This morning I am feeling a little battered and bruised. The one issue that had been concerning us – that the bleeding inside my nose hadn’t stopped (we’d been told to go to a hospital A & E if it didn’t) by the time we had eaten our evening meal last night, but I put my foot down and suggested we wait and reviewed the situation today.

I’ve got a vivid scar upon my swollen nose – and am waiting to find out if I’m going to get a pair of black eyes – but am nearly ready to meet my public, starting with the couple who are coming to dinner tonight.

Ho hum – that’s my life as an oldie.




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About Arthur Nelson

Looking forward to his retirement in 2015, Arthur has written poetry since childhood and regularly takes part in poetry workshops and ‘open mike’ evenings. More Posts