Sunday, 8 February 2009

Shop Girl and Fallen Goods

I’m on the phone to mum when a man comes into the shop with a pile of Guardian newspapers.
Late 40’s, cross-eyed and grey-haired; he’s wearing a blue anorak with a name badge around his neck.
Except it’s not a name badge because it doesn’t have his name on it.
In fact it looks like he’s cut out a piece of cereal box and laminated it himself with sellotape.
“Mum, I’ll call you back.”
“I’m selling for the children,” he says in broken English, putting a newspaper down on the counter in front of me.
He runs his finger under the typed price.
“90p, very cheap,” he says.
I look at the paper for a clue but I don’t get it.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m doing for the church.”
“What are you doing for the church?”
“I get money for children. I am charity.”
“What charity?”
“For the church.”
“I don’t understand. Who are you?”
He touches his chest, “I am...” he pauses, struggling with the word that comes out sounding very French, “Volontaaaire.”
“But why are you selling The Guardians for charity?”
Usually people come in with a badge and a money collection tin and we give them something because it’s quicker than not giving them something.
“It’s good,” he says, nodding, “got sport section...”
“I know what The Guardian is,” I say, frowning, “but why are you selling it to me for charity for the same price as Costcutter?”
“For the children. I am charity.”
“Yes but...”
“For church...”
I can see I’m not going to make much headway in my investigation so I end up buying a newspaper and giving him 60p over the odds.
I check that it’s today’s date, which it is, and call Mum back.
“I think I’ve just bought a stolen Guardian.”
“Ah,” she says.
“I don’t really know how it happened.”
I never knowingly buy things that have fallen off the back of the lorry because it would be like encouraging someone to steal from my shop. This is South East London and goods are forever falling off the back of vehicles. Presumably that’s why there are so many traffic jams.
Watches, fake Louis Vuitton bags, cameras, bubble bath, mobiles, Ipods and now The Guardian.
Only last week someone tried to sell me a king-size bed.
“I over-ordered,” the lad said.
Apart from the fact I can only just fit a single bed in my room, I couldn’t help thinking how implausible it sounded.
You’d think you’d take the bed back to the shop, wouldn’t you?
It’s not like an extra pair of tights that you end up keeping because you know they’ll come in handy sooner or later.
“I don’t need one, thank you,” I said, “But good luck.”
Good luck? I thought to myself after. Why on earth would I wish him good luck?
But I worry if I’m not super polite the next thing they’ll be trying to flog will be my chandeliers, and I’m quite happy to do that by myself, thank you very much.


Oli Benet said...

hahah, sickerlich.

G. C. Burkin said...

Well done, Emily - another great quirky character in your shop this week - good luck with writing the Shop Girl novel!